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With three minutes left of the 2017 National Championship, Boston Colleges Kenzie Kent pressed Maryland’s Nadine Hadnagy. When Hadnagy launched a deep pass, Kent checked his cane, secured the ground ball and darted toward the 12-yard line. She passed to a rear Sam Apuzzo for the easy finish.
Despite the final title-game defeat, Kent’s 10 points brought a career goal. Just three months earlier, Kent had led all the goal scorers with a season-high three points for the Eagles’ ice hockey team in a 6-0 NCAA quarterfinal victory over St. Louis. Lawrence for sending BC to his seventh Frozen Four appearance.
From 2014-19, Kent, now assistant coach of the Syracuse women’s lacrosse program, starred as a double athlete at Boston College, reaching a total of five Final Fours across the two sports. In 2017, she was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s female athlete of the year and ranks No. 4 and No. 10 in all-time career points in BC lacrosse and hockey, respectively.
“A lot of people say it’s the same thing, but the stick is in the air and I definitely think she used it to her advantage,” said Katie Crowley, Boston College’s head coach for women’s ice hockey. “It looked so much like watching her play lacrosse and playing hockey.”
Kent said she initially thought she should only play lacrosse in college until she started reaching her “peak” in hockey as a sophomore in high school.
During his recruitment process, Kent looked at other schools like North Carolina to play lacrosse only, Crowley said. Kent said she struggled to make a decision, but the ability to play both sports at Boston College was a key factor in her decision.
“The draw for us to try to get her to BC was that she would be able to play both sports,” Crowley said. “It was definitely possible. We wanted her to play both.”
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Because the end of the hockey season overlaps with the first month of the lacrosse season, Kent missed several lacrosse matches each year. In 2018, she red-shirted the entire lacrosse season so she could play an entire season the following year.
Although she practiced two sports, Boston College had to abide by the NCAA’s rule of not allowing players to participate in athletic activities for more than 20 hours per week. Kent did not practice physically with the lacrosse team, but instead sought to gain an understanding of certain games and movements.
Kent was also required to take a day off each week from college, she said. In high school, she had some commitment to at least one sport every day of the week. Kent had a simple mindset of it – and thought to herself that she was “in season” all year.
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On the ice, Kent helped facilitate one of the best lines in the country, with Olympians Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa. Kent put Carpenter up with good opportunities to score goals because of her “elite” vision, Crowley said. In 2015-16, the trio led the Eagles to a 40-1 record, with their only loss coming in the national championship to Minnesota, and second place was the best in the program’s history.
“It definitely took a special kind of player to get in touch with them, and she was the playmaker on that line,” said Makenna Newkirk, Kent’s hockey teammate at Boston College.
Kent was also an integral part of the power-play and penalty-killing units. Defensively, Newkirk said Kent had an “innate ability” to intercept passes because she could see her opponent’s game develop before it occurred.
To open the scoring in a 6-0 attack against St. Lawrence in the quarterfinals, Newkirk skated down the right side of the ice before launching a cross-ice pass. Kent received it right in front of the goal and slipped the puck into the left side of the goal on the power play. And on the final goal against the Saints, Kent stepped a pass between two defenders to Newkirk, who received the puck with equal space enough to cover the goalkeeper, and fake to the right to shoot to the left.
“She can always read her teammates and I think that was one of her gifts both on the field and on the ice,” Newkirk said.
When the hockey season ended, Kent immediately jumped into the lacrosse and took no more than a few days off. Physically, the transition was fairly easy, but the hardest part was adjusting mentally and emotionally to the new culture, Kent said.
Kent said Crowley was more laid back and just let the team play as the sport is back and forth, but BC women’s lacrosse head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein had more strategy involved with sets of moves and offenses.
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On the field, Kent had similar traits to what she showed on the ice, especially with the ability to read the field and find other attacks for goal-scoring opportunities, Crowley said. She added that she thinks Kent washed the puck more out on the ice. Apuzzo said she thinks Kent looks like she’s skating when she’s on the lacrosse track.
“She’s floating on the grass,” Apuzzo said.
During her first three years on the lacrosse team, she never played more than 12 games because the hockey season stretched far into the off-season. After redshirting as a senior in 2018, however, she only played lacrosse in her graduate year. Despite not seeing any action for over a year, Kent looked the same as she was before, Apuzzo said. Kent was named an Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association first-team All-American and advanced to the Final Four.
After graduating, Kent stuck to lacrosse and became the assistant coach of the Harvard women’s team before being hired by head coach Kayla Treanor and Syracuse last season.
“It’s weird I liked hockey more in college, but now I like lacrosse more,” Kent said.
Asst. digital editor Henry O’Brien contributed to the reporting of this story.
Published on April 10, 2022 at 23:48
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