A potential Cinderella run cut short and a missed chance at history have all been left in the wake of the COVID-19 spread across the world, which has forced the NCAA to cancel its winter sports’ playoff tournaments and the entire spring sports season.
The NCAA made its announcement to cancel all sporting events on March 12, just one day after the Boston University men’s basketball team captured its first-ever Patriot League title and its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2011.
On the women’s side, the team was scheduled to play in its first-ever Patriot League semifinal game, and was set to tip-off just over four hours after the Patriot League announced that it was canceling the conference tournament.
Women’s basketball head coach Marisa Moseley was not shocked by the Patriot League’s decision to cancel the tournament, but she said she was hoping the league would at least finish up the three games left.
“I kind of had an idea because prior to our shoot-around because the Big 10, American and SEC had theirs,” Moseley said. “I had an inkling that we would potentially follow suit. I was hoping that we could potentially make it through the weekend and at least finish out the championship.”
Once the decision was made, Moseley addressed the team and broke the news about their season being over. When she told the team about the season, Moseley said she called out the seniors and thanked them for their contributions before the team came together for one final embrace.
“It was really emotional and I got a chance to thank our seniors specifically, “Moseley said, “and everyone embraced. There’s not a whole lot you can say in that moment.”
Senior forward Nia Irving, who had helped lead the program to its first Patriot League semifinal despite a nagging injury, said the team was shocked when they heard the announcement because they thought they would just have to play the game with no fans in attendance.
“We were all in shock for a few hours after we found out,” Irving said. “We were scheduled to play that game with open attendance … if anything I just thought they would announce ‘oh we’re just going to close the games off from spectators.’”
Losing a chance at the Patriot League title was a gut-punch to Irving and her team, but the three-year starter said she understands why the season had to end. She added that she was happy to have created a positive impact on the team over her four years.
“[Senior guard] Vanessa [Edgehill]’s and my goal was to always leave the program in a better place than when we first got there,” Irving said. “After speaking with the rest of the team and the coaches after we found out the season was canceled I really felt like we were able to do that. All the hard work we’ve put in over the last four years has really translated both on and off the court.
The men’s hockey team’s playoff run was also cut short. The Terriers were scheduled to travel to the University of Massachusetts Lowell before Hockey East officials agreed to cancel the conference playoffs.
Spring sports were not spared from the NCAA’s decision either, as both BU lacrosse teams and the softball team have had their seasons canceled.
Despite their seasons already being in full swing, the NCAA has offered spring sport athletes a reprieve by allowing spring sport athletes to receive another year of eligibility — athletes are only allowed to play four seasons in college — once the organization works around current eligibility rules in place. It has not been decided if basketball, hockey and other winter sport athletes will be granted another season of eligibility.
The softball team carries two seniors on its roster, pitchers Lizzie Annerino and Kali Magane, who will be the most affected by the cancellation.
Both BU lacrosse teams will be more greatly affected by new eligibility rules, as the men’s and women’s teams each carry seven seniors on their 2020 Spring roster
Women’s lacrosse coach Laura Morton had two things come to mind when asked about her initial reaction to the season being canceled: shock and heartbreak.
“Shock is one of the biggest things. Certainly it shows how grave a risk this is from a national and international standpoint,” Morton said. “Heartbroken for all the people who are suffering from it and on the small scale, I’m really heartbroken for our seniors.”
Morton said she was able to set up a day for the team to honor their seniors before the team left campus.
“We had an impromptu senior day our last day we were together,” Morton said. “Just to honor them. They’ve all played really big parts in the program … we had a chance to connect with them.”
Despite the sad situation, Morton said a time like this can help the team put things into perspective, and allow her players to spend time with their loved ones and bond with one another.
“You always have to keep the bigger perspective of what’s going on in people’s lives,” Morton said. “[They] can appreciate the unexpected time with their family.”
“We talked about maintaining relationships,” Morton said. “When you are able to be at each other’s weddings and to celebrate each other … those are the memories and opportunities they’ll have down the line just maintaining those relationships now.”