With the sudden resurgence of Birdball and their unexpected landmark year, we at BC Interruption have been wondering: Which Boston College sports seasons are coming out of nowhere?
We’ve ranked the top 5 teams that had disappointing seasons one year and then exploded to an incredible run in just 12 months (or less). Express in the comments your fondest memories of these teams and let us know if we missed any.
5. Soccer 1986
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In 1985, Boston College found itself in a chasm it hadn’t seen in nearly a decade. Despite many successes in the early 80s that saw BC win up to 10 games led by Heisman winner Doug Flutie, the Eagles fell back to earth in 1985 when they won only 4 games and committed one of the worst offenses in college football. . They got blasted by Miami, Army and Syracuse while QB Shawn Halloran threw almost twice as many INTs as TDs.
But in 1986, head coach Jack Bicknell got it again for what would be BC’s last great season of the 1980s. Shawn Halloran became a much better QB in his final year, leading all college football in completions. Troy Stradford rushed for over 1,100 yards and over 400 receiving yards, while BC great Kelvin Martin himself led the team with over 500 receiving yards. Bill Romanowski and Steve Williams also led a defense that rebounded well from their difficult season and held most of their opponents to 20 points or less.
The team started a rough 1-3 before going on to earn 8 straight wins that culminated in a Hall of Fame Bowl win over #17 Georgia. BC finished the season ranked 19th with a bowl win over a formidable SEC opponent and significant rivalry wins over Holy Cross, Syracuse, Army, Temple, West Virginia and Maryland. It wasn’t exactly an ‘out of nowhere’ situation, as a group of these players had been very successful a few years earlier, but it’s one of the biggest one-season turnarounds in history. British Columbia football.
4. Women’s Basketball 2002
Cathy Inglese was undoubtedly one of Boston College’s finest coaches in its athletic history. She took over a young program that had never been to an NCAA tournament and took them there 7 times in 8 years.
That year it didn’t make the playoffs, that was 2001. The Eagles went below .500 and the Inglese team fell below anywhere in the last 5 seasons, finishing 7th in the Big East.
But she rallied the troops for the following season and the team soared as high as they had ever done. BC made it all the way to the Big East Championship game before losing to perennial powerhouse UConn. They entered the NCAA Tournament as the 5th seed (rebounded in the first round) and they finished the season ranked 21st in the nation. The team was led by a deep roster that included 5 players who scored over 9 points per game: Amber Jacobs, Clare Droesch, Brianne Stepherson, Nicole Conway and Becky Gottstein. Gottstein was lost early in the season to injury after making the All Big East 2nd team in 2001, so this team may have soared to even greater heights if not by bad luck .
The turnaround from ’01 to ’02 is the best the WBB program has ever seen and it set up the rest of the 2000s for much success. Inglese remains the only coach in program history to take WBB to the NCAA Tournament.
3. Baseball 2023
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Boston College baseball is on absolute fire this year, seemingly out of nowhere. They’ve had a terrible season in 2022, going 19-34 overall with a terrible 5-25 record in the ACC. Their pitchers were some of the worst in the country and they constantly got smashed by their opponents left and right. Many BC sports netizens were clamoring for head coach Mike Gambino to be fired and were disappointed when new TD Blake James failed to make a change when he arrived on the pitch.
Then in 2023, Birdball got off to a good start. And… it kept… going. They won their first series. They have won 8 in a row. They beat No. 2 Tennessee and extended their winning streak which eventually ended at 10. Fluky, right? It cannot be supported.
Then they won their series against No. 10 Virginia Tech. Then won a series against #21 Florida State. Then ANOTHER series against #24 NC State. The Eagles weren’t slowing down. Boston College had the hottest start in program history, 21 wins and 6 losses, while launching the national rankings at 9th, the highest ever in program history. Led by superb hitting from Nick Wang, Joey Vetrano and others, BC Baseball was flying higher than it had ever done before.
The Eagles cooled off a bit in the second half of the season, but they still managed to earn a 6 seed in the ACC Tournament, their highest seed ever. This conference tournament is now underway as of this writing and BC has a real shot at making the semifinals and building momentum to potentially host a regional in the NCAA tournament. Regardless of how it ends, it was an incredible run that came completely out of left field.
2. Women’s Lacrosse 2017
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When head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein took over the program from Boston College in 2013, the Eagles had appeared in only one NCAA tournament (2011) since the program’s inception in 1992. Now, in the 10 seasons under AWW, BC was successful in at least the first round.
But the real turning point for Boston College WLax came in 2017. They had been a regular in the NCAA Tournament but usually bounced back in the first or second round and only reached the quarter-finals once. losing in 2014. The turnaround changed in 2017. BC won their most games in program history (17) and fought their way through the tournament, winning by at least 6 goals in each of its first three rounds to reach the first Final Four in program history.
The Eagles defeated Navy in the semifinals but ultimately fell to Maryland in the NCAA Championship Game, 16-13. That team was led by a two-headed monster in Sam Apuzzo and Kate Weeks, who each had over 75 goals to their name and over 100 points. The NCAA does not have a complete record of this season’s statistical leaders online, but in 2023 those numbers would have placed them 2nd and 4th overall in points nationally. Just a group of incredibly skilled players who put BC women’s lacrosse on the map and started their streak of success that continues to this day.
1. Men’s Basketball 2001
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The year is 2000. Boston College men’s basketball hasn’t played in an NCAA tournament in the three seasons since Al Skinner took over. They bottomed out in 1999, winning just 6 games overall, and improved to just 11-19 this year. Freshman Troy Bell is playing out of his mind and junior Xavier Singletary is doing well, but they have no assists and the offense is one of the worst in the nation. Things look bleak for the future of this program.
So what is BCMBB doing in 2001? They just go out and win the Big East.
Led by Bell, who is now Big East Player of the Year and averaging over 20 points per game, BC opens the season on an 11-game winning streak and won no games by less than 9 points until January. . They beat No. 7 Syracuse in February and ride to a 23-4 regular season record, finishing 1st in the Big East. They enter Madison Square Garden and win 3 games by 14, 27 and 22 points to win the conference tournament convincingly. Eventually, the Eagles would fall to USC in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finish 7th in the national AP poll.
Bell was obviously the highlight of this team, but stellar performances from Xavier Singletary, Kenny Harley and sixth man Ryan Sidney all propelled the Eagles to one of their best seasons in program history which was largely without injury. That year, Skinner and company set up a period of sustained success from 2001 to 2009, in which BC competed in the NCAA Tournament in 7 of 9 seasons, again winning the Big East regular season title in 2005 as well.