Belle Smith (5) leads the celebratory charge as BC storms the field after a 16-10 win over Syracuse in the NCAA championship game at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

They Did It! Boston College Captures Elusive NCAA Championship

TOWSON, Md. — Boston College’s national championship purgatory has ended. Syracuse’s suffering continues.

In an NCAA women’s lacrosse championship game between teams perennially on the cusp, the Eagles used a second-half surge and a record-setting performance by Tewaaraton Award finalist Charlotte North to defeat the Orange 16-10 and capture their first national title in front of 5,405 fans at Towson’s Johnny Unitas Stadium.

“We had a dream a long time ago that we were going to win a championship, and people told us we were crazy,” Boston College coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “We just did it.”

Playing in its fourth straight final, BC got a Texas-sized performance from North. The Dallas native and Duke transfer scored six goals, eclipsing Stony Brook’s Courtney Murphy for the NCAA single-season record when she scored her 101st goal on a free position with 16:39 remaining.

They’re the only two Division I players — male or female — ever to reach the century mark. North finished with 102. She came to BC after the Eagles fell to Maryland in the 2019 NCAA championship game, their third straight year falling short in the final.

“From the first phone call with Acacia in June 2019, I felt it right away,” North said. “I could feel the passion and the culture and the bond.”

North’s arrival helped offset the graduation of BC’s “Big Three” of former Tewaaraton winner Sam Apuzzo, 2019 WPLL MVP Dempsey Arsenault and two-sport star Kenzie Kent.

“We were destroyed by it temporarily. But we picked up the pieces,” said Walker-Weinstein, who found solace in the words of BC men’s ice hockey coach Jerry York, the winningest coach in NCAA history. “He said to trust the process. And at some point, at the right time, divine timing will come in and things will fall into place. Charlotte was a blessing to our program.”

Walker-Weinstein could be seen stifling her smile even after North scored on an empty net with 1:11 remaining to ice the win. North did the same, chomping on her mouth guard before the ensuing draw.

“We were just focused,” North said. “Locked in the whole game.”

“We had a dream a long time ago that we were going to win a championship, and people told us we were crazy,” Boston College coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “We just did it.”

The first half featured everything you might expect in a game between heavyweight offenses and conference rivals facing each other for the fourth time this season. BC and Syracuse exchanged blows, the lead changing hands five times to go with six ties and three yellow cards — including two that sidelined Orange attacker Emma Tyrrell for the remainder of the game.

Sunday marked the first time in the history of the sport that two teams met four times in one season.

“They like us have gotten better throughout the season,” said Syracuse goalie Asa Goldstock, who surpassed Liz Hogan as the school’s all-time saves leader. “I can’t say that we lost because we played them four times. I think that they were the better team today.”

The Eagles led 9-8 at halftime and captured the momentum early in the second half. They won the first three draws and scored three goals in a span of 1 minute, 44 seconds to go ahead 12-8. North tied Murphy for the NCAA record at the 25:26 mark with one of her patented righty rips on the run as she curled around the left pipe to punctuate the run.

Already down three starters — most notably Emily Hawryschuk and Megan Carney, both of whom suffered season-ending ACL injuries earlier this spring — Syracuse lost steam without Tyrrell. The Orange’s depth could only take them so far. At one point in the second half, they had five turnovers and just one shot on goal.

BC midfielder Hollie Schleicher created all sorts of chaos between the 30s, causing two turnovers, scooping five ground balls and winning eight draws to lead the Eagles.

“Our offense sputtered when we went down a player. That really made the difference,” Syracuse coach Gary Gait said. “It was tough to rebound from the depth. We just came up a little bit short on the offensive end and then we unfortunately got into a situation where we were pressing it and trying to score. That meant making some bad decisions on our feeding and shooting, and the result is what it was — a 16-10 loss.”

Maddy Baxter, a righty Canadian inserted into Tyrrell’s spot in the Syracuse offense, spun inside and scored backhanded to make it 12-9 with 17:44 left.

But a minute later, North ignited another three-goal BC run with her record-breaker. She toed the first hash on the left, wound up her stick four times and uncorked a rocket that beat Goldstock stick side at the near pipe.

The Eagles (18-3) scored twice more in the next three minutes to pull away. They were 4-for-7 on free positions and picked apart Syracuse’s backer zone defense with precision passing.

“We’ve been scouting this defense for a while now,” said Caitlynn Mossman, a Towson, Md., native who had a goal and four assists. She noted the off-ball work of Belle Smith and Jenn Medjid. “We just worked on the little slips, not the big cuts. Because the [Syracuse] defense, they track back to their spots.”

“They’re just feeding from everywhere, and finishing their shots when they’re getting fed the ball in the middle,” Goldstock said. “They were on today.”


Ninth-year Boston College coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said BC "picked up the pieces" after losing in three straight NCAA finals from 2017-19.

The Orange (17-4) picked up two more yellow cards late in the second half, flipping the script from their semifinal win over Northwestern in which they took advantage of the Wildcats’ seven yellow cards and 49 fouls. BC scored four man-up goals.

“We couldn’t catch many breaks,” Gait said. “Certainly not in the second half.”

Syracuse fell to 0-3 in NCAA finals. Gait led the Orange to their first final four in his first season back in 2008. They’ve since made seven more championship weekend appearances, also finishing as the runner up in 2012 (to Northwestern) and 2014 (to Maryland).

James Madison broke the Maryland-Northwestern-North Carolina stranglehold on NCAA championships in 2018 at Boston College’s expense. Now the Eagles are the new champion, just the 13th team to win an NCAA Division I women’s title.

“It’s fun to be a part of a new chapter. The winners aren’t just Maryland and Northwestern every year,” said Walker-Weinstein, who played at Maryland from 2002-05 and coached as an assistant at Northwestern from 2006-08. “I want to keep going. I’m already thinking about winning another one.”