With a 19-6 win over Louisville Saturday at Alumni Stadium, the Boston College women's lacrosse team finished off a second straight undefeated regular season at 17-0.
For this group of Eagles, however, the season is really just beginning. Each of the last two years have seen a thrilling ride come to a disappointing finish in the national championship game, losing 16-13 to Maryland two years ago at Gillette Stadium and 16-15 to James Madison a year ago.
BC will host the ACC tournament beginning on Wednesday, a championship that has also proved elusive with North Carolina serving as the Eagles' nemesis the past two years including in last year's title game.
The postseason run starts with a quarterfinal contest against Louisville before the semifinals on Friday evening and the title game Sunday afternoon. The 28-team NCAA field will be announced on May 5 with the final set for May 26 in Baltimore.
"I think the girls know the work starts now," said BC coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein, who is 108-36 in seven seasons and has had the Eagles in the NCAA tournament each year. "We're celebrating, we're trying to treasure the day, but that's about it and tomorrow we have to get back to work."
Of the eight teams in the ACC, seven are included in the IWLCA rankings including five of the top seven with No. 3 North Carolina, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 5 Syracuse and No. 7 Virginia all chasing BC. It helps keep the Eagles focused on the immediate task at hand.
"ACCs is something we've never accomplished yet so we have to focus on the first game before we get to the championship," said senior attack Sam Apuzzo, last year's Tewaaraton Award recipient. "We're going to take it step-by-step and hopefully we continue on our roll and continue to keep focusing on the things we need so we do succeed when we get there."
With 71 goals and 25 assists in the regular season, the West Babylon, N.Y., native is closing in on her third straight 100-point season. Earlier this year she became the school's all-time leader in goals (260) and points (369) to go along with her top spot in draw controls.
Apuzzo has a solid chance to take home a second straight Tewaaraton, something she insists is the farthest thing from her mind.
"She's looking to be the leader of the offense, to win the draws -- that's her No. 1 job -- and then trigger the offense and make everyone look good around her," Walker-Weinstein said.
Apuzzo is just one member of a nine-player senior class that has gone 66-18 in its four years.
"Where we're really successful is we cover all ends of the field and one person's weakness is another's strength and we really pick each other up," said senior midfielder Brooke Troy of Westwood.
The nine are spread out across the field with Apuzzo, Kenzie Kent, Dempsey Arsenault and Taylor Walker four of the team's top five offensive producers while Troy, Elizabeth Miller, Christina Walsh and Hannah Hyatt shore up the defense. Goalie Lauren Daly, who played nearly every minute as a junior, made seven saves Saturday in her first start since Feb. 23, having missed about six weeks with an undisclosed injury before making relief appearances in the previous three games.
While Daly was sidelined, sophomore Abbey Ngai filled in admirably, including a 12-day stretch that included wins over North Carolina, Virginia and a 14-save performance against Notre Dame.
"Lauren was amazing today, and Abbey has been amazing, so we're going to continue to compete it out," Walker-Weinstein said. "I'm just proud Lauren had such a great game and Abbey is so incredible to support her. The two of them are remarkable, their genuine, authentic support of one another. So we'll see." ___