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Navy fights, but falls to BC in semifinals

Special Contribution to So Much Sports Baltimore
By: Kathryn Leeber

Just a freshman, Kelly Larkin score six goals in the national semifinals against Boston College.

It went down to the very end of their semifinal game, but the history season for the Navy women’s lacrosse team concluded on Friday night at Gillette Stadium as the Mids suffered a 16-15 loss to Boston College.

Both the Mids and the Eagles had their opportunities to become the first unseeded team to reach the Division I championship since the NCAA expanded its seed eligibility in 2005, but Boston College was just able to hold Navy off.

Navy used a four-goal run and an overall 7-1 run in the first half to take an 8-4 lead with 6:35 left before halftime, but the Eagles netted one goal just before the break and continued on to a seven-goal run into the second half to take a lead they would not surrender, despite Navy threatening the duration of the game.

“It was a heck of a game tonight and certainly very proud of our women’s Navy lacrosse program,” Navy Head Coach Cindy Timchal said. “We fought to the very end and came up short and we give credit to the very tough [Boston College] team we fought tonight.”

The game started with two shots from Navy senior Morgan Young, but Boston College goalkeeper Zoe Ochoa was able to stop them both. The Eagles took the first goal of the game courtesy of Kenzie Kent.

Navy followed less than a minute later when Young was able to score a redemption goal to tie the game, but Boston College soon followed with a free position goal from Kaileen Hart. After a Navy turnover, the Eagles scored another goal. This time it was Kayla O’Connor, who brought the BC lead up to two goals at 3-1.

The next few minutes saw a lot of fouls and no goals, but with 21 minutes remaining, Kelly Larkin put Navy back on the board and Larkin went on to score again, her 50th goal of the season, just a few minutes later in a player-up situation. That tied the game at 3-3.

Kayla Harris made it three straight for Navy with a goal less than two minutes later and put the Mids ahead for the first time with 17:40 left in the opening half. Boston College did not let the Mids run away, though. The Eagles ripped off two wide shots, but the third time was a charm as Kate Weeks tied the game back up at 4-4.

That was what Navy rattled off four straight goals. Julia Collins scored unassisted and then dished the helper for a Meg O’Donnell goal. Larkin and Andie O’Sullivan quickly followed to make it an 8-4 game.

Boston College was able to score two of the final three goals of the first half, including one with only eight seconds remaining before the intermission, to make it a 9-6 game at the break, but to that point, the scoreline reflected the shooting disparity in the game. Navy outshot Boston College 26-14 in the first half and the Mids were in a good offensive groove.

But whether it was the late Eagles goal that gave them momentum into the second half or just some various adjustments that were made during halftime, Boston College ended up outshooting the Mids 20-14 in the second half and that too reflected on the scoreboard.

One adjustment Boston College made was a switch in the cage, going from Zoe Ochoa, who made nine saves with nine goals allowed, to Lauren Daly, who finished the game with five saves and six goals allowed. And they also started to win more draw controls. Navy outdrew the Eagles 11-5 in the first half but Boston College held a 9-7 edge on them in the second half. They also went 3-for-4 on free positions goals while the Mids had only one try.

Boston College opened the second half with a free position goal scored by Mary Kate O’Neill. The Eagles then followed with four more goals in a row, all of which saw Weeks playing a role in. Weeks passed off three straight assists, one going to Kayla O’Connor and two more going to Kent. Weeks then scored her own goal, her 74th of the season and second of the game, off a pass from Sam Apuzzo. Weeks’ run put the Eagles up 11-9 just six and a half minutes into the second half.

Navy was able to put an end to Boston College’s six-goal run when O’Donnell scored her second goal of the game to bring the Mids back within one goal, but exactly one minute later Apuzzo scored her 75th goal of the year and response and Kent scored her fifth goal of the game to get the Eagles back ahead by three at 13-10.

Larkin scored her fifth goal of the game with 19 minutes left to play in the game to get Navy back on the board again, but the Mids struggled to string goals together in the second half while the Eagles were and Apuzz extended the Eagles lead back to three with another score.

“It was really the draw controls that had a lot to do with it,” Timchal said. “It’s just the way it went today. We thought we had some good defensive stops but then they got the ball back. Things just weren’t going out way in the second half. … We didn’t really have the ball in the second half, BC had some energy going to the cage.”

Still, Navy was able to fight back and stay close. Jenna Collins was held fairly quiet in the game, but scored her 72nd goal of the year with 16:44 left. Boston College just kept having answers. Dempsey Arsenault scored in response. Collins then assisted O’Sullivan, but Boston College scored again.

The only time during the second half when Navy scored back-to-back goals in the game was the last two scores. Julia Collins scored with 5:25 left and Larkin scored her sixth goal of the game with 70 seconds left. However, Navy never got possession back and the Eagles ran out the clock for the win.

Though the team suffered the loss, Larkin continually said in the postgame press conference that she felt it would just further fuel the team for next season. The Mids will return 10 starters next year. Larkin is one of three starting freshmen for Navy. Navy is slated to return 12 of their top 14 scorers next year, including three players who scored 50 or more goals and five players who topped 30 goals.

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