Boston College attacker Sam Apuzzo was huddled by a laptop with friend and teammate Dempsey Arsenault in a Massachusetts hotel when her named flashed across the screen in big, blue letters.
Apuzzo didn’t know what to expect when she tuned into the live stream of the 2019 WPLL spring draft. There was certainly a hope that she would be one of the 25 players picked that night. But outside of her knowledge of an ESPN television deal and a partnership with the PLL, she didn’t know what to expect.
Whatever her expectations were as league MVP Marie McCool appeared on the screen to announce the picks, being selected No.1 by the Fight was not one of them.
“I didn’t expect to be the first pick,” said Apuzzo, who was the first Boston College player to win the Tewaaraton Award in 2018. “So I was surprised but also super stoked about it.”
Arsenault was selected with the second overall pick by the Brave, followed by fellow Boston College attacker Kenzie Kent, who went to the 2018 league champions Command. Kent, who didn’t watch the stream, wasn’t aware of the news until Arsenault gave her a call.
“I forgot that it was going on,” Kent said. “But then Dempsey called me to say congratulations. I was just excited.”
The trio of Apuzzo, Arsenault and Kent highlight a talented draft pool that features 14 All-Americans, seven NCAA champions and eight international team players. After four years of being critical pieces on one of the most dominant college lacrosse teams in the country, they’re about to enter new phases of their careers.
Although their college careers are close to coming to an end, the connection they’ve developed as friends and teammates has helped mold them into some of the top players in their positions.
It didn’t take long for Arsenault to see that Apuzzo’s unique talent. They first met at a lacrosse camp after they had committed to Boston College, and her lethal ability with a stick was immediately apparent to the New Hampshire midfielder.
“You almost feel bad for the girls (she’s facing),” Arsenault said. “It’s like everyone sees it coming. It’s like, ‘uh-oh, she’s about to strip her.’ She just does it all.”
Fight head coach Shannon Smith even went as far to say Apuzzo is the best at what she does.
“She’s the best player in college lacrosse,” Smith said on the live stream after the pick. “She’s going to automatically make our team that much better. She can things happen with or without the ball in her stick.”
Apuzzo and Arsenault’s friendship grew stronger during their freshman season, but their chemistry as teammates truly strengthened two years later when Arsenault, who had primarily played on the defensive side, started playing more offense.
Switching from a defensive mindset to learning the offensive motions and plays did take some time. But Apuzzo and the rest of the team gave Arsenault the confidence and support she needed, and soon she was just as dynamic on offense as she was on defense.
“She never stops going,” Apuzzo said. “She’s going to do something until she gets it perfect. She’s just so incredible to watch.”
And her teammates admire how well she can play at both sides of the ball.
“Dempsey can do literally anything,” Kent said. “I think she’s the most dominant midfielder in the sport. She plays at such an elite level…for however minutes we’re on the field during a game.”
Kent, who was the ACC Female Athlete of the Year for excelling in lacrosse and ice hockey, took her senior year off from lacrosse to focus exclusively on hockey. After finishing her hockey career with a 30-5-3 record in the 2017 season, she returned to the lacrosse field and posted a career high in assists, points and goals.
“Her ability to see plays before they happen is just so fun to be a part of,” Apuzzo said. “She’s such a good assister and one of the most unselfish people on the field. It’s been incredible to be her teammate.”
Together, the trio played a part in one of the country’s most dominant offensive units. The Eagles are fourth in the NCAA in scoring offense behind Massachusetts, Northwestern and Jacksonville.
The Eagles won 19 straight games before losing in the ACC Championship against North Carolina. And in many games, the score wasn’t even close. But there were games where the team was tested as it was twice against Syracuse and in three-point wins against USC and Virginia Tech.
Arsenault said the chemistry they’ve developed over the years is “everything” in those types of games.
“We all trust each other, and we that we’re all trying our best. We just know that everyone has each other’s backs and we’re all there for each other.”
And when the unit is in top form, they can be nearly unstoppable. Kent points to the 21-9 victory against Colorado in the second round of the NCAA Tournament as an example of what the team’s offensive potential.
“It was the best game we’ve had all year,” Kent said. “It was so much fun. So many people were scoring and stepping up to make huge plays. It was such a great time.”
Apuzzo, Arsenault and Kent combined to score 12 goals in the game with Apuzzo leading the game with seven.
After spending the past four years as vital pieces to Boston College’s success, the next time they step on the field together will be as opponents. The bond they shared as Eagles will still be there, but there also be the reality that they will have to play against each other in the future.
It’s not a prospect that particularly excited any of them.
“I’ve never played against them,” Apuzzo said. “It’s going to be a different feel. I definitely don’t want Dempsey defending me, that’s for sure.”