'Passion Plays' Lift BC to Another 4th-Quarter Comeback Over Syracuse


Jenn Medjid scored five of BC's eight goals in an 8-7 win over Syracuse.

CARY, N.C. — Finish your 1-v-1s. Sounds simple enough, right?

In concept? Maybe. And in practice? Sure. But to execute it to perfection in the biggest game of the season in front of 7,702 fans? Boston College coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein might call it magic.

With the Eagles up by one goal and less than a minute remaining, Belle Smith stared down a charging Olivia Adamson, who beat the BC midfielder off the dodge. Adamson was a few yards from the goal and looking to beat Shea Dolce. Smith recovered and executed a textbook trail check to dislodge the ball. Sophia Taglich picked it up off the WakeMed Soccer Park grass, and after a timeout, the Eagles ran out the remainder of the clock.

That defensive play made Kayla Martello’s free position goal with 3:33 left stand as the winner in an 8-7 comeback victory over second-seeded Syracuse in the NCAA semifinals Friday night. Boston College, the No. 3 seed, will play in its sixth straight NCAA championship game on Sunday at noon against top-seeded Northwestern.

“Jen Kent, our defensive coordinator, she’s the mastermind behind it all,” Walker-Weinstein said. “She’s been saying all year long to finish your 1-v-1s, meaning it doesn’t matter if you get beat. You’re still in it.

“You don’t understand. She says it every day. She’s relentless about it.”

Like Kent, Boston College (19-3) was relentless in the fourth quarter. Trailing 7-5 after Megan Carney scored her team-leading 59th goal for Syracuse with 1:22 left in the third quarter, Boston College hunkered down. The defense didn’t allow another goal, and Jenn Medjid (five goals) scored consecutively 21 seconds apart to knot it at 7 with 9:12 left.

Empty possessions by both teams passed the time until Martello converted the game-winning free position score.

While lower scoring, it followed a similar game script to a game between these ACC powers on April 20. Boston College, trailing by 14-10 in the fourth quarter, came back to beat Syracuse 17-16 and end the Orange’s perfect season.

“I think there’s something very special about our team,” Walker-Weinstein said. “I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet, but I think there’s something very special. It wasn’t our best offensive performance, but there was something very magical about how they pulled it off toward the end.”

Indeed, it was far from the best performance for either team on the offensive end. And Boston College’s comeback came despite being statistically out-performed in a few categories that would normally dictate an outcome — shots (28-17), ground balls (17-12), draws (11-8) and turnovers (20-13).

Much like its loss on April 20, Syracuse (18-3) came out hot. The Orange scored the game’s first three goals and outshot Boston College 12-4 in a first quarter that ended with Syracuse on top 3-2.

The Eagles held Syracuse scoreless for 20:35 after Emma Ward made it 3-0. Medjid finished a feed from Andrea Reynolds to make it 4-all at halftime.

“We’ve been in these situations before,” Dolce, a freshman who made seven saves, said. “I knew that those first two goals couldn’t rattle me because that was going to set the tone for the rest of the game.”

And although the third quarter belong to Syracuse, Boston College didn’t wilt. It had been in this exact spot before. Reynolds, Ryan Smith and Hunter Roman made hustle plays — or as Walker-Weinstein calls them, “passion plays” — late to secure extra possessions, and Smith didn’t give up after getting beaten fair and square in her 1-v-1.

“That’s just what our program is built on,” Medjid said.


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