Pitt falls to reigning national champions Boston College, 19-12


Hannah Wilson | Senior Staff Photographer

Pitt junior attacker Carlie Leach (7) passes a Duquesne player during a game at Highmark Stadium on Sept. 26, 2021.

By Richie Smiechowski, Senior Staff Writer

Both Pitt and Boston College women’s lacrosse boast a four-time all American on their rosters, but that’s where the similarities end.

The No. 2 Eagles (8-1, 2-1 ACC) have one of college lacrosse’s most impressive lineups, and are coming off their best season in program history, which culminated in their first National Championship. On the other side of the field, Pitt (5-5, 0-4 ACC) came into Saturday’s game still looking to notch its first-ever win in conference play following a series of heartbreaking defeats against No. 8 Duke and No. 25 Virginia Tech.

Pitt threw everything it had against Boston College early, but a strong start wasn’t ultimately enough to hold off the powerhouse Eagles. The Panthers fell to the reigning National Champions 19-12 at Highmark stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers looked poised to play spoiler early in the contest, scoring quickly and often in the first period. Graduate attacker Madisyn Kittell got the scoring started, tying the game five minutes into the contest at one. Her agility and movement behind the goal gave the Eagles defense fits in the first half.

For the next five minutes, the Panthers showed every ounce of their attacking prowess, taking advantage of Boston College’s backup goalie and scoring four goals in a five-minute span. Each of the Panther’s five goals in the first period came from a different player.

With five minutes left in the first, the Eagles managed to cut the deficit to just two, taking advantage of a ground control and then a draw control in their favor. Graduate goalie Paulina DiFatta made sure to keep the Panthers ahead in the scoring column by notching three saves in the first period.

The Panthers gave the Eagles as much as they could handle in the first period, doubling their shot total and holding an advantage in both ground balls and ground controls.

In an afternoon with wildly unpredictable weather, the sun soon turned to heavy snow, getting the second period underway in familiar conditions for the two northernmost ACC teams. The Panthers again found the hot hand early scoring less than two minutes in, on a goal by sophomore midfielder Maureen McNierney.

The Panthers carried the momentum of their sixth goal by winning the following draw control, and storming into attacking formation. As they circled the net, junior attacker Carlie Leach gathered an errant shot, then fired the ball back to Kittell near the crease. Kittel reeled the pass while still airborne, before firing the shot into the back of the net. The acrobatic effort gave the Panthers a 7-3 lead with 13 minutes left to play in the half.

Instead of capturing the momentum provided by the crowd and onslaught of goals, the Panthers began to crack. The defense began to show signs of exhaustion, allowing the Eagles to score two of their next three goals via free position. They would end up scoring five in a row before the Panthers finally managed to equalize, minimizing the damage, and sending both teams into the locker room at halftime knotted up at eight.

The Eagles began to show their strength in the second period, but decided that enough was enough in the second half. Anchored by seven draw controls to Pitt’s two, the Eagles constantly had the Panthers scrambling to defend their attack in the third period. Exhausted, the Panthers yielded four free positions to the Eagles and conceded the first penalty of the game en route to an abysmal 6-2 deficit in the frame.

It quickly became evident that the Boston College front was simply too much for the Panthers to handle. The Eagles outshot the Panthers 16-3 in the third, and appeared relentless in their pursuit of extending the lead.

The downtrodden Panthers stood no chance of a comeback in the final period. A quick strike from graduate attacker Paige Petty brought the Panthers back within three, but a blistering two goals in 45 seconds from the Eagles put the home side out of contention.

The Panthers managed to tack on one more goal in the final minutes of the game, as the Eagles buried any chance of an upset with stark attacking and midfield play. Boston College reaffirmed its position at the top of college lacrosse, 19-12.

Along with holding an early lead against one of the nation’s best, Kittell was a bright spot for the Panthers, notching four goals and clearly pacing the Panther attack. Senior attacker Jenn Medjid led the way for the Eagles with six goals, and last year’s Tewaaraton Award winner and graduate attacker Charlotte North paced the Eagles with four goals and 16 draw controls.

The Panthers will take the field again in two days against Akron at Highmark stadium. Gametime is at 5 p.m.