Boston College wins the 2021 NCAA Lacrosse National Championship.
In college athletics, certain schools usually dominate in specific sports. Think UConn’s basketball program, or North Carolina’s 21 national championships in soccer, or Utah’s appearance in every NCAA Gymnastics National Championship. But sadly, with the existence of the perennial winner comes the inevitability of a perennial loser.
In lacrosse, the perennial powerhouses are Maryland, Northwestern, and more recently, North Carolina, who emerged as the team to beat in the ACC after establishing its lacrosse program in the late-90s. Boston College, on the other hand, took much longer to arrive at the upper echalance in college lacrosse.
Boston College’s lacrosse program began in 1992, but the Eagles first NCAA Tournament appearance was not until 2011. The milestone was short-lived as the Eagles would lose in the first round.
Then in 2017, seemingly out of nowhere, the unseeded Eagles made a run to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament finals in what was only their sixth tournament appearance in program history. Although Boston College would come up short against Maryland, the Eagles proved that they were a program on the rise.
Expectations were raised following the Eagles’ miraculous run to the 2017 National Championship, but no one expected them to quickly establish themselves as one of the premier lacrosse teams in the country. Boston College would go on to appear in the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Tournament championship games as well, while boasting a 22–2 record in both seasons. They showed that they were on the same level as teams like North Carolina and Maryland, but the ultimate goal of a championship still eluded them.
In 2021, Boston College found themselves in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth year in a row. The Eagles were being fueled by senior Charlotte North, who was averaging an insane 4.83 goals per game and she was on pace to challenge the NCAA record for goals in a season.
The Eagles easily advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating two unseeded opponents, but the rest of their games would be against familiar opponents—ACC rivals Notre Dame, North Carolina, and Syracuse. Boston College held two regular season wins over the Irish and cruised past them in the quarterfinal, but the same could not be said for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed, regular season and tournament champions of the ACC, and delivered quite the shellacking to Boston College in the regular season, beating the Eagles 21–9.
Boston College clearly did not forget about their regular season defeat when they faced the Tar Heels in the semifinals. North Carolina was able to jump ahead early, but it was the Eagles who had the 8–5 lead going into the half. They continued to build their lead in the second half, and were able to hold off the Tar Heels’ late surge, securing an 11–10 upset of the tournament’s top seed.
Charlotte North scored two goals in the game, bringing her to a total of 96 on the season—a school record. North would enter the championship game needing five goals to break the NCAA season record.
The Eagles went 1–2 against their finals opponent Syracuse during the regular season and the ACC playoffs, so there was not a clear favorite going into the title game.
From the opening minute it was clear that viewers were going to witness a special performance from Charlotte North, who scored the game’s first goal. The two teams would go back and forth before the Eagles began to pull away in the second period. North would score the final goal of the game, her sixth of the afternoon, to seal the victory for Boston College.
North would finish her senior season with 102 goals, a new NCAA record, but more importantly the Eagles were finally able to capture the NCAA Championship on their fourth attempt. The championship is only the sixth NCAA team title in Boston College history, joining men’s hockey’s five national championships. Now the Eagles will have to venture forward without Charlotte North in their pursuit of a fifth straight Finals appearance, which a few years ago seemed unthinkable.