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April 22, 2010

Loch-Down: BC a Force to Be Reckoned in ACC

by Clare Lochary | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Hannah Alley had two sisters who played for, and won championships at, Northwestern. But she wanted something different for her college career.

“I was really ready to be part of building something. I wanted to help a team get to the top and that’s what we’re doing right now,” said the Boston College junior midfielder from Lake Forest, Ill.

When Eagles head coach Bowen Holden arrived in Newton in 2005, she knew it would be a long road to lead Boston College out of the basement of the ACC and into national contention. Holden and her Eagles are edging ever closer to that goal, though. With a 10-4 record, they’ve tied a program record for wins in a season and defeated cross-town rival BU for the first time in five years.

They also took two of the most fearsome teams in their conference and the country – Maryland and Duke – to the wire, falling by a single goal in each game. They’ll have a chance to avenge themselves against the Blue Devils, who’ll they’ll play today at 2:30 pm in College Park in the first round of the ACC tournament.

“This is my first year with all of my own recruits, so that’s certainly going to have an impact,” said Holden. “ It’s been a process from five years ago when we were getting blown out of the water when this year we’re losing by a goal to the top programs in the country. We’ve brought in the right kids and they’ve pushed harder than they’ve ever pushed. They came to BC because they wanted to compete in the best conference in the country and they wanted to build something and make history. They wanted to come somewhere were they could set the table.”

One of Holden’s first recruits was senior Lauren Costello, an attacker out of Levittown, N.Y. Holden originally contacted Costello as assistant at Georgetown, and convinced the star recruit to follow her to Boston College where they could build a program together.

“When I was first starting to look at schools, Bowen was telling me a little bit about her experience [as a college player] transferring from Bowdoin to Georgetown, which wasn’t on the map then, and how much fun that was. So I knew I kind of wanted,” said Costello.

Costello, who currently leads the team with 74 points this season, had five goals and three assists versus BU. The first of those five goals was her 148th career goal, good enough to break a school record. She is currently second on the Eagles’ career points list heading into the Duke match-up. But the record-setting goal is not what Costello remembers best about the BU game.

“It’s felt great to finally beat them because we got smacked our freshman year, and it was ridiculous,” said Costello, of the 18-11 win on April 14.

This year, that winning edge came from more conditioning in fall ball (lots of running around Boston College’s famously hilly campus) and better team chemistry. The Eagles average 13.43 goals per game, and 41 percent percent of those goals have been assisted.

After defeating the Terriers, Boston College almost got caught in a trap game versus Brown on April 18, but Alley scored the game-winner in overtime to lift the Eagles to a 9-8 win. It was their first victory in a one-goal game this season, and gave them insight into how to turn that final corner against the nation’s top competition.

“We just need to play for a full 60 minutes now. We’re just missing a couple minutes of our top BC lacrosse, just missing a couple minutes. That’s what we need to do,” said Alley.

Boston College had a 5-1 lead on Duke in their regular season meeting on April 10, and then slowly allowed the Blue Devils to claw their way back to a 12-11 victory. The Eagles will need to limit their turnovers and stay mentally sharp to take down No. 6 Duke.

If persistence counts, the Eagles have a good head start.

“Building a program is a marathon and not a sprint. It is important to build slowly because ultimately I want to build a program that’s going to sustain itself, not a one hit wonder,” said Holden.

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