April 10, 2013

Boston College Visualizing, Realizing Success

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Boston College junior midfielder Kate McCarthy, who is also a starting forward on the Eagles' women's soccer team, has helped BC's draw control game. It was a key part of wins over Virginia and Duke last week.
© Boston College Athletics

In her first year as a head coach, Boston College's Acacia Walker has scored a couple of firsts for the program.

The Eagles recently defeated two nationally-ranked ACC opponents, topping then-No. 9 Virginia, 10-7 on March 30 and then-No. 6 Duke, 10-9 on April 6. The latter was the program's first win over the Blue Devils, and the victory lifted Boston College to a 3-2 conference record, setting a new program mark for ACC wins in a season.

"We're excited. It's been a good week," Walker said Tuesday.

Indeed. Heading into a mid-week matchup Wednesday at unranked New Hampshire, the Eagles are flying high with a 6-6 record. They dropped some early games to Ohio State and UConn, but since then, the young team has hit its stride.

"The thing that was keeping us away from those wins early in the season was discipline," Walker said. "We worked really hard in the last two weeks, maybe harder than we should have, in terms of fatigue. But the thing that brings confidence to the girls is working hard. I think they were ready to win."

On the suggestion of assistant coach Jen Kent, Walker adjusted the practice schedule. Instead of the standard two hours, the Eagles go hard for just an hour and 15 minutes. They also do meditation and visualization sessions in every practice. That's a carryover from Walker's playing days at Maryland, when Hall of Fame coach Cindy Timchal did the same thing with the Terps.

"Visualizing and meditating every day allows the girls to see success in their minds before they see it on the field," Walker said.

In addition to developing their mental toughness, the Eagles have been focusing on the draw to great effect. In the wins over Virginia and Duke, Boston College won a combined 24 draws to its opponents' 14 and took the ground ball battle 22 to 12.

Walker challenged sophomore midfielder Mikaela Rix to avoid watching the ball and get more aggressive on the circle. It worked. Rix had four draw controls in the Duke win to boost her team lead to 39. Rix also is the team's No. 2 scorer (32 goals, three assists) after sophomore attacker Covie Stanwick (38 goals, 14 assists).

Rix gets support on the draw from junior midfielder Kate McCarthy (16 ground balls, 22 draw controls). McCarthy, who Walker calls one of the best pure athletes that the program has ever seen, is also a starting forward for the Boston College women's soccer team.

"We got lucky and she wanted to come out for lacrosse," Walker said. "She brought a different level of intensity to our practice every day."

Defensively, freshman defender Molly Erdle, a Mullen (Colo.) High School grad, has emerged as an important presence. Erdle face-guarded Virginia's Casey Bocklet and Duke's Kerrin Mauer and blanked them both. Bocklet had one shot; Mauer had none.

"Molly's really taken on this face-guard role and she's a very good true defender, too," Walker said. "She learned so much from those girls, because they're both so good. I think playing Bocklet made her more prepared to mark Mauer."

The Eagles have five non-conference games, all against unranked teams, before the ACC tournament begins on April 25 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

"These girls trust each other, and they trust the game plan," Walker said. "We have a lot of season ahead."


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