Kent Returns to Star-Studded Boston College Better than Before

PHOTO BY GREG WALL

Kenzie Kent is back for the Eagles after last playing for them as the 2017 Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA women’s Division I championship, the first player in NCAA history to earn that honor despite not playing on the winning team.


US Lacrosse Magazine released the Nike/US Lacrosse Division I Women’s Preseason Top 20 on Jan. 2. Team-by-team previews will be unveiled on uslaxmagazine.com through the end of the month and will also appear as part of the magazine’s NCAA preview edition in February. 

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No. 1 Boston College

2018 Record: 22-2 (7-0 ACC)
Coach: Acacia Walker-Weinstein (7th Year)
All-Time Record: 91-36
NCAA Appearances: 6
Final Fours: 2
Championships: 0

You want the bad news first, or the worse news?

The bad news — if you’re anything but a Boston College fan — is that Kenzie Kent is back at full speed for the Eagles, a team that has played in each of the last two national championship games.

Kent, you may recall, was the leading scorer on BC’s run to the 2017 title game, not just for her team, nor just for that year’s tournament, but in any NCAA tournament in history, men’s or women’s. She tallied 37 points in the Eagles’ playoff drive, 10 in the final against Maryland. The all-time record had been 26.

Expected to be a dominant force in 2018, she instead redshirted, devoting herself first to playing for the BC hockey team and then to simply recovering for a year.

Here, though, is the really bad news, according to Kent:

“I’ve learned more about lacrosse than I have in my entire life,” she said.

Without hockey soaking up her late summer and fall, Kent spent more hours and days playing lacrosse than she ever had before.

“It’s a completely different mindset for me, because I had so long to prepare for [this season]. In hockey, you can go out for an extra hour after practice, doing extra shots and working with coaches,” she said. “That’s how I developed in hockey, and that’s what I was missing in lax.”

In other words, Kent believes she’s not just back, but far better.

“I’m excited to let myself go, lacrosse-wise,” she said.

The team she has stepped back into is a virtual laboratory for lacrosse offense. Kent rejoins All-American teammates Sam Apuzzo, the reigning Tewaaraton winner, and Dempsey Arsenault. Though both are seniors, this fall was the first time Kent and Apuzzo teamed in offseason play. Watching Apuzzo’s endless repertoire of moves, Kent said, has been revelatory for her own game.

“I learn from her every day,” Kent said. “Like going up from X, faking shooting around and then pulling back and shooting behind the back. I was like, ‘Oh, I can use that.’”

And if every lab needs a mad scientist, Boston College has second-year assistant coach Kayla Treanor. The former three-time All American at Syracuse, Kent said, has spotted tiny holes in her techniques that she didn’t even realize were there.

“Some are so basic, it’s sad that I didn’t realize it before, stuff I had no idea that everyone does,” Kent said. “Like working on my footwork or more one-on-one stuff. Or no-look passes. When I pass, I’m just staring at my girl. We’ve been working on looking away.

“We don’t do that in hockey."







The Case For Boston College

Talent. Boston College returns the nation’s top player in all three field positions: attacker Sam Apuzzo, who scored 88 goals and won 163 draws as the 2018 Tewaaraton winner; Elizabeth Miller, the 2018 National Defender of the Year; and midfielder Dempsey Arsenault, who scored 64 goals and won 111 draws as a first-team All-American. BC adds to the mix 2017 NCAA championship MVP Kenzie Kent.

The Case Against Boston College

Pressure and history. In each of the last three years, a team opened the season with a roster that, on paper, was head and shoulders better than any other in the country in both talent and experience. None won titles. Maryland in 2016 and UNC in 2017 were both senior-heavy defending champs and the Eagles themselves came into 2018 loaded with All-Americans after a championship near miss. Also, for all its recent success, BC has yet to win any hardware. Along with losses in the last two NCAA finals, they lost in the 2018 ACC final.

Path to the Playoffs

There is no rematch with James Madison, but Boston College travels to Chapel Hill to take on UNC on March 23. The Tar Heels, though hit harder by graduation than BC, beat the Eagles in the ACC title game last year. As always, games with Syracuse, Virginia, Duke and Notre Dame also await.

Players To Watch

Sam Apuzzo, A, Sr.
88G, 55.3 SH%

Walker wants the 2018 Tewaaraton winner to improve to better than 60-percent shooting, which will mean scoring even when draped by elite defenders. Apuzzo will also likely be asked to create opportunities for returning teammate Kenzie Kent as often as score.

Dempsey Arsenault, M, Sr.
64G, 111 DC

Fast and tall, Arsenault dominates the middle of the field for Boston College. With Arsenault in the middle, BC was almost unstoppable on clears, succeeding 94 percent of the time. Her draw controls and scoring are second best among returners to Apuzzo.

Lauren Daly, G, Sr.
9.71 GAA, 41.8 SV%

With dominant defenders, BC had the best goals-against stats in the ACC in 2018, but Daly’s save percentage was just middle-of-the-pack. It’s the nature of lacrosse that, even with All-American teammates, a team will eventually rise and fall with goalkeeping.

National Rankings

Category

Rank

Value

Offense 12th 15.71 GPG
Defense 15th 9.67 GAA
Draws 6th 16.38/game
Ground Balls 38th 19.33/game
Caused TO 71st 8.21/game
Shooting 15th 46.1%
FP Shooting 59th 41.4%
Yellow Cards 26th 34

Power Ratings (Scale of 1-5)

Offense
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Defense
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goalkeeping
⭐⭐⭐

Draw
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

24

In the national title game loss to James Madison, Boston College took only 24 shots, their lowest total of the year. The Eagles shot 30 or more times in all but five games, and their fast pace, high-octane offense works best when they are firing shots. 

Enemy Lines

"Hungry program that returns big names like Kenzie Kent."

"Return of Tewaaraton winner and add Kent — dangerous on offense."

“They’ve got three of the most elite players in the country in Apuzzo, Arsenault and Kent. For sure, they’re a frontrunner. Everyone’s chasing them."

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