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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Lacrosse: No. 3 Northwestern closes in on Chestnut Hill clash at No. 1 Boston College

Daily file photo by Henry Frieman
Graduate student midfielder Jane Hansen advances the ball upfield against Marquette Feb. 19.

Under Cary, North Carolina’s late spring rain showers, coach Kelly Amonte Hiller’s squad scaled sensational summits to lift coveted national championship hardware on May 28, 2023. Eleven years of near misses, pitfalls and anguish lifted off the veteran coach’s shoulders, as her program once again stood atop the collegiate landscape.

For Boston College coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein, the toll of falling just one game of her team’s ultimate goal for the fifth time in the last six seasons hit home. 

“It’s a disappointment, but I’m also really proud,” Walker-Weinstein said following last May’s national championship. “We did some things that the program’s never done before and I think we moved it forward, which is great for Boston College Lacrosse.”

Seated next to departing Eagle attacking superstar Jenn Medjid in the postgame press conference, both player and coach struggled to hold back tears as they reflected on a championship campaign that wasn’t to be. 

Nine months removed from 2023’s national title game, No. 3 Northwestern will face No. 1 Boston College on Thursday in a rematch every pundit and fan circled on their calendars when schedules were officially unveiled before the new year. 

While the Wildcats (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) took time to iron out early season kinks and place pieces in proper position, the Eagles (5-0, 1-0 ACC) shot out of a cannon since opening day, combining seasoned stalwarts with dynamic talent infusions.

With Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts’ temperatures plummeting into the low 30s, Thursday’s tilt promises to pack significant firepower on both ends.

“It’s really a blessing to have such a great schedule where we’re tested from week to week,” Amonte Hiller said on her State of the Lake Show segment. “We just have to focus on going in there, giving our best effort (and) focus on us. We know they’re gonna come in with a lot of energy and a lot of effort.”

Here’s a preview of what to expect as NU takes on Boston College in a nonconference brawl.

Hosts boast star-studded transfers

Although Medjid’s departure initially left a significant void in Walker-Weinstein’s lineup, the Eagles almost immediately reloaded with high-profile transfer additions with former Virginia attacker Rachel Clark and former Florida attacker Emma LoPinto.

A pair of juniors who combined for 166 points at their respective programs last season, Clark and LoPinto took little time to adapt to their next system.

Through four starts, Clark has tallied 16 goals and two assists on just 22 shots. She’s scored at least a hat trick in every game this season and provides significant ferocity as a finisher in front of the cage.

LoPinto, who Amonte Hiller selected to her U20 Training Team in July, served as the Gators’ program centerpiece during her two seasons in Gainesville, Florida. A dynamic dodger and feeder from the X, LoPinto carries a threat to score or assist whenever she receives the ball in the offensive zone.

First significant test for stacked Boston College

The Eagles seemed to be one of the most complete teams in the nation when they defeated then No. 20 UMass 20-9 in their Feb. 9 curtain raiser, and Walker-Weinstein’s group has looked the part of the nation’s No. 1 team through five consecutive victories.

Boston College goalkeeper Shea Dolce returned for her second season with a bevy of high-caliber experience under her belt, and the Eagle defense has conceded just 24 goals in five games — while the offense has scored a whopping 94 goals.

However, Thursday will present Boston College’s first matchup against a top-10 opponent this season. Meanwhile, the ‘Cats have clashed with two such squads in their first four games, toppling then-No. 5 Syracuse but falling to then-No. 8 Notre Dame.

Player to watch: Attacker Mckenna Davis 

A junior who experienced consecutive national championship losses in her first two seasons, Davis possesses an uncanny ability to find cutters and hand out assists on a silver platter. She posted 62 assists last season — and is on pace to obliterate that figure in 2024.

Davis has tallied a season-high five assists on two occasions, racing out to a nation-high 20 assists and recording six goals. She’s been central to the Eagles’ early momentum, helping flocks of contributors get involved in nonconference play.

In her two matchups with NU last year, Davis dished out five assists and added a goal. With a new flock of talented scorers around her, expect the junior to stuff the stat sheet Thursday afternoon.

If Boston College is to stave off its road challengers, Davis will need room to flourish and showcase her distributive prowess.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jakeepste1n

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