By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Boston College women's lacrosse has built something extremely special. One of the premiere programs in the country, the Eagles have made a run to the national championship game each of the last three seasons.
The 2020 senior class at BC was looking to finally finish the job and win the school's first-ever national championship. The Eagles began the season 4-3 (0-1 ACC) and were just about to head into the bulk of a loaded schedule which featured No. 7 Northwestern, No. 3 Syracuse, No. 12 Virginia, No. 1 North Carolina and No. 15 Dartmouth. Right before BC's contest against No. 22 Virginia Tech on March 14, the remainder of the NCAA spring season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
For senior defender and Westwood native Jillian Reilly, this was a tough hit. Not only was she robbed of her senior season and a chance to compete for a national championship, but Reilly had just earned a starting spot. After contributing off the bench each of the last three years, Reilly made her first career start in the season-opener against UMass and looked to be a centerpiece of the BC defensive unit in 2020. During BC's 15-12 win against Vanderbilt on February 16, Reilly forced a pair of turnovers and scooped three ground balls. The following week against Brown, Reilly picked up two ground balls and caused two turnovers in a 13-10 win for the Eagles before finishing the abbreviated season with seven ground balls and five CTO's.
On June 8, Reilly, a two-time state champ (2014, 2016) and All-Scholastic recipient at Westwood High, announced that she will be returning to BC to complete her master's degree in sports management, as well as play one more season of lacrosse. The Boston College women's lacrosse Twitter account tweeted a video of Reilly expressing her thoughts on returning. Reilly also wrote an open letter and blog post to announce the news. Click here to read it.
This year has brought about unprecedented challenges and hardships. For athletes like Jillian Reilly who've woken up early every day and had to grind for success, this year serves as a reminder that nothing is given and every moment needs to be cherished. Your season and your entire athletic career could come to an end at any given moment. For many of Reilly's 2020 senior counterparts, playing another year in 2021 was not an option, either due to logistics or eligibility issues. Next season, Jillian Reilly will not just play for herself and her own pride, but also for the pride of others who lost that chance to compete. It will be something special to watch.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as game highlights, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.