January 13, 2014

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#LMRanks: No. 20 Boston College Eagles (WD1)

by Sean Burns | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | College Preview 2014

Covie Stanwick returns as a leader for the Boston College women, who hope to return to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season. (Greg Wall)

Next: No. 19 Princeton Tigers

Vitals

2013 Record: 12-8 (3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference)
Coach: Acacia Walker (2nd season)
Record at Boston College: 12-8 

Top Returner

A Covie Stanwick (Jr.)
Set BC's single-season goals record (65) and earned second-team IWLCA All-America honors as a sophomore, starting all 20 games. The anchor of the Eagles' attack, Stanwick demands respect from opponents and makes her line mates better.

X-Factor

A Brooke Blue (Sr.)
A well-respected senior leader, Blue missed much of last year after a knee injury, but has scored 160 goals in her career. A return to form will make the already tough Eagles offense that much tougher to slow down.

NCAA Tournament Trend

2009 DNQ
2010 DNQ
2011 First Round
2012 DNQ
2013 First Round 

What's New?

For a team already on the outside of the 'core' of the ultra-tough ACC, the addition of Syracuse and Notre Dame makes things even tougher for the Eagles to join that upper eschelon. "It's getting more challenging every year," Walker said. "But our goal is to continue to put our thumb print and get deeper into the playoffs every year."

Telling Number

5
Minutes played in goal by anyone other than Emily Mata last spring. The returning starter missed fall with an injury but is expected to hold the starting job while newcomers Zoe Ochoa and Lindsay Reder challenge for the reserve role.  

Enemy Lines

What Rival Coaches Say

"We love being a team fighting for respect [in the ACC]. We play the most incredible athletes and I coach against the best in the game. It's a privilege."

- Head Coach Acacia Walker

"Every year this team gets a lot of hype and they most always get a signature win. But they haven't been able to get the wins when they needed them late in the season and their inconsistency has killed them... Rapidly emerging but a tough slate... Had some key ACC wins and return Stanwick and Rix.  Those two need to have big games every game for BC to have a chance in an even more competitive ACC... Key players on attack that can help outscore opponents.”

2013 Recap

In a Nutshell: The Eagles went 12-8 under first-year head coach Acacia Walker, including a 3-2 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference, good enough to earn the program its second-ever NCAA berth. A tough early stretch had the Eagles at 4-6 in late March, but seven wins in a row closed the regular season, and a win over Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACCs gave them enough momentum to earn an NCAA bid despite falling to North Carolina in the second round of the league tournament. They fell, however, to Dartmouth in the first round of NCAAs.

High Point: Standing at 5-6 as the calendar turned from March to April, the Eagles needed a boost to turn things around. Duke, always a tough program and one that BC had never beaten in its history, was next. Behind four goals by sophomore Mikaela Rix, the Eagles were able to finally get one over on the Blue Devils, topping a second-straight Top 10 team (they beat Virginia in their previous game) and sparking that end of season streak.

Low Point: In the middle of that tough early stretch, BC traveled to Chapel Hill to face the eventual NCAA champions and had its roughest outing of the season, giving up the most goals it would allow on the season and trailing by as many as 13 goals in the second half before acoring the final five of the game.

2014 Preview

Best Case: Things don't get any easier in the ACC, but where there's challenge, there's opportunity - not to mention good strength of schedule numbers for one's RPI and tournament seed. With 11 starters returning from last year's team that won a program-high three league games, the Eagles could be in for a big year. "We carry a lot of similarities from last year's team, but we're adding a lot of new things for this group," Walker said. "We're adding some tactics and the girls are doing well wit picking things up."

Things start tough early with Notre Dame and Syracuse in February, but if the Eagles can upset one of those teams and hold serve against some other tough but unranked squads, there's a realistic chance they'll be in very good standing by the time North Carolina visits Chestnut Hill in mid-March.

Worst Case: Besides the new ACC games in the early season, the Eagles have contests against Ohio State and Connecticut teams that beat them a year ago and New Hampshire, which they toppled in OT. If they stumble out of the gate, it'll take another late-season rally to have any hope of making the tournament, and with Maryland, Duke and Virginia all lurking after Carolina comes to town, that would be a tall order.

Lacrosse Magazine will continue its 2014 college lacrosse preview throughout January and into February, with team-by-team breakdowns of the top teams in NCAA Division I, II and III men's and women's lacrosse. Follow the countdown at LaxMagazine.com/LMRanks and on twitter at #LMRanks.


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