FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Navy women’s lacrosse dream season ended in the quiet underbelly of Gillette Stadium late Friday night, with Boston College’s locker room still screaming in jubilation after a 16-15 win over the Midshipmen. By the time Navy Coach Cindy Timchal found her way to the podium to provide her final thoughts on a season that ended with the school’s first trip to the Final Four, her face showed equal parts pride and disappointment.
“It was a heck of a game tonight. I guess we kept people in the stands,” said Timchal, the Hall of Fame coach who had become a legend on the sidelines at Maryland, the team her Midshipmen (18-5) would’ve met in Sunday’s national championship game had they advanced.
Instead it will be Boston College (17-6), which rallied from a three-goal deficit at halftime and held on through the frantic final minutes. Navy freshman Kelly Larkin scored a career-high six goals, the final of which came with 70 seconds remaining to pull her team within one goal. But the Midshipmen would not get another possession.
“Sometimes, things just don’t go your way,” Larkin said.
Junior midfielder Kenzie Kent finished with five goals for Boston College, which outscored Navy 10-6 in the second half and connected on 16 of 34 shots.
Navy had made a remarkable run through the month of May alone just to reach this point. It rallied for a 9-8 win over Lehigh in the Patriot League semifinals. After it won the league championship against Loyola to secure an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, the Midshipmen squeezed out another one-goal win over Penn in the first round. A 23-11 blowout of U-Mass. in the second round was far from expected, but not nearly as much as last weekend’s historic 16-14 upset of defending national champion North Carolina.
“It just really speaks to the character of our players, and the spirit to want to compete to the very end,” Timchal said.
That breakthrough had turned the Midshipmen into the darlings of the Final Four, with Timchal becoming the main attraction. All three of the other head coaches in the semifinals had played under Timchal at Maryland, including Boston College’s Acacia Walker, who was also guiding her program in its first Final Four appearance Friday.
Unlike the first semifinal, where Maryland’s offense exploded and earned a running clock after going up by 10 goals in the second half against Penn State, the late game between the Midshipmen and Eagles was a back-and-forth struggle for much of the evening.
Boston College jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead, but Navy responded by scoring seven of the game’s next eight goals to take a 9-6 lead into halftime. That burst included three first half goals from Larkin, a Bishop Ireton product who gave the Eagles fits throughout the first 30 minutes.
But even if Navy still felt like it had something to prove Friday night, the mojo that it had captured during its run here seemed to fade by the early stages of the second half. Boston College, which entered Friday night’s game with a program-record 344 goals and 340 draw controls, took charge with six goals within the first seven minutes of the second half.
That included two from Kent and another from senior attack Kate Weeks, who was part of another program record this season when she was one of two players to score 70 or more goals this season.
The other player, sophomore midfielder Sam Apuzzo, scored her 75th goal of the season with 21:03 remaining. Less than two minutes later, Kent struck again with her fifth goal of the game to make it 13-10.
Larkin was resilient, responding with a goal to trim the lead back to two goals. After Apuzzo scored again on a free position opportunity, Navy again answered with a goal from Julia Collins to remain within striking distance. Navy clawed its way back to pull within two goals three different junctures in the second half, then finally got within one goal with 70 seconds left after Larkin scored a free position goal to make it 16-15.
But Kent came away with the ensuing draw control for Boston College, which nearly fumbled the ball away with less than a minute remaining. It only retained possession after Navy committed a foul near its own bench, with Timchal and the rest of her staff visibly upset with the call. By the time the clock had run down, there was nothing else her team could do.
“We fought to the very end,” Timchal said. “We came up short.”