Samantha Apuzzo helps Boston College women’s lax reach Elite Eight

May 19, 2017 GMT

If you’re looking for one of the better comeback stories of the year, stop by tomorrow’s Boston College-USC women’s lacrosse Elite Eight matchup and check out sophomore sensation Sam Apuzzo.

Apuzzo arrived at The Heights a year ago with a plethora of credentials and immediately began to carve out her niche. But nine games into the season, during a 13-8 victory against Syracuse on March 19, 2016, Apuzzo tore her left ACL, abruptly ending her season. Apuzzo underwent surgery in early April at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and an arduous 10-month rehab schedule followed.

“It happened in one of our biggest games of the year against Syracuse. Fortunately, we won the game,’’ said Apuzzo, who had three goals and an assist against the Orange before sustaining the injury. “I took my time with rehab. The trainers told me there was no need to rush. I had 10 months. I wanted to strengthen my legs because a lot of times, people coming back from ACL injuries are susceptible to calf injuries.’’

Her totals from that curtailed freshman campaign showed 21 goals and four assists on 42 shots in just nine games for the No. 14 Eagles (15-6). This year, a healthier and stronger Apuzzo has rocketed to stardom, establishing BC single-season marks for goals (72) and points (107). Her efforts resulted in her being named to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-America first team.

Apuzzo has averaged 5.1 points per game (sixth-best in the nation), highlighted by six-goal outbursts against Boston University and Virginia. Through 21 games, she has taken 134 shots. To say she is back in fine form is an understatement and a testament to all her hard work in the face of adversity.

“So coming into the year, I definitely focused on getting mentally better because I think you can struggle when you’re coming back from an injury like that,’’ said Apuzzo, who is majoring in appplied psychology and human development. “I think it’s definitely great to come back and be able to accomplish something like that (records), but I couldn’t do something like that without the help of my teammates.’’

BC coach Acacia Walker said Apuzzo’s teammates respect her both as a player and as a person.

“She is an incredible athlete. She’s really mentally tough. She is really great about overcoming adversity, whether it’s a tough opponent, the weather or her knee. That ability helps her play, too. She’s an incredible kid, a humble kid. Her teammates love her.’’

Apuzzo started out as a soccer player, but she switched to lacrosse, and by the time she graduated from West Babylon (N.Y.) High School, she was a bona fide standout. Lacrosse coaches nationwide were calling.

“I probably started playing lacrosse in about the fourth grade, although at the time, I was more interested in soccer. A lot of my friends in the neighborhood said I was athletic enough to play lacrosse, so I tried it. Our teams at West Babylon High were not necessarily powerhouses, but we were pretty solid,’’ Apuzzo said. “I was torn between three schools: BC, (North Carolina) and Hofstra, which was near home. I came here, and I liked it. It was far enough away from home, but at the same time, it was close enough in case I wanted to go home. I liked the spirit of the school, too.’’

Walker said once Apuzzo popped up on BC’s radar, the coaching staff intently monitored her.

“We knew. We knew she was a superstar. We tracked her ever since we saw her in high school,’’ Walker said. “Oh gosh, of course. She is one of the best players ever to play in our program. She’s getting better with her skills. She’s doing an amazing job. She’s just getting going, I hope.’’

A win against No. 7 USC (18-3) tomorrow by Apuzzo and company would send BC into the Final Four at Gillette Stadium on Memorial Day Weekend.