Fuel to the Fire


ield hockey runs in Margo Carlin’s veins. 

With a mother who played field hockey in college and an older sister who also took up the sport, Carlin joked that she’s had a stick in her hands since she was born. As such, it’s no surprise that she would lead Boston College field hockey to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament in her first collegiate season. 

Carlin dominated the turf from her first minute on it, and her record-breaking performance all year long earned her the title of The Heights’ Breakout Female Athlete of the Year. 

When Carlin was in eighth grade, she came up to Chestnut Hill for a summer field hockey camp at BC. Despite having only played field hockey for a couple of years, Carlin showed exceptional talent that gleaned attention from a former assistant coach, and she got to know head coach Kelly Doton. Following the camp, Doton asked Carlin to stay for a little longer so she could give her a full tour of campus. It was during that extra time with Doton that Carlin fell in love with BC.

“Obviously, I was only in eighth grade so it was way too soon [to commit],” Carlin recalled. “I went to BC a few times, and I went to other schools, then I would come back to BC and would just be like, ‘This is the place that I want to be.’”

From that point on, Carlin was even more focused. In addition to playing for her high school field hockey team, she joined a club team, the WC Eagles, to compete in local and national club championships. 

Carlin’s passion and commitment to field hockey was clear to those around her. Carlin’s former high school coach Gretta Ehret described Carlin as a natural leader, stepping up and connecting to each of her teammates even when she was unable to be on the field.

“What sets [Carlin] apart from everyone else is not only that she’s so talented, and [while] some people can kind of rest on their talent, she just also works so hard,” Ehret said. “And I think that elevates the kind of player she is and the kind of leader she is.”

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In the spring of her junior year, Carlin tore her ACL playing lacrosse in her offseason, dashing any hopes of closing out her high school career with a strong field hockey season. But rather than sitting on the sidelines and creating distance between herself and the sport, Carlin served as her high school team’s captain and helped coach the team alongside her sister, who was an assistant coach.

“Even though she tore her ACL, she was obviously still really committed to being part of this team,” said Ehret. “Because she was [already named] a captain, we were like, ‘We will absolutely use you to develop our players and help with coaching and to help build connections amongst the team.’”

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espite being a two-season student-athlete during high school, Carlin was nervous about being able to balance the responsibilities of being a college student and a Division I athlete in college. But what she was most nervous about was the impending season. 

And yet, Carlin’s performance on the field would prove to be the least of her concerns, as she more than proved her talent in the team’s preseason scrimmages and, finally, the first game of the season. 

After Providence opened the scoring in the 2019 season with a goal in the first period, BC junior Fusine Govaert quickly fired back with a goal of her own to tie up the score. The Eagles and Friars would remain in a deadlock for the middle two periods. But early in the final period, Carlin set herself up in front of the net and, after receiving an incredible pass from Govaert, expertly tucked the ball past the Providence netminder to secure her first career goal in her collegiate debut.

“It was very nerve wracking,” Carlin recalled. “We had a few scrimmages before we had an actual game, and those definitely nerve wracking, but it kind of felt like we were just practicing with our scrimmages getting ready to go to the games. … I was so nervous, but our team is so close, and we were all so ready.”

Once Carlin notched her first goal, nothing could stop her. Appearing in each of the team’s 23 games, Carlin scored 20 goals for the Eagles and secured six assists, earning herself a .87 goals per game average. The next-highest goal scorer was Govaert at eight goals and Charlotte von Huelson and Elizabeth Warner with five goals each. 

But even though the Eagles’ season ended in a historic fashion, it didn’t exactly start out that way. While Carlin soared, BC struggled to find consistency. Following their incredible comeback win over Providence, the Eagles lost three straight games—two of which were against ranked opponents. All the while, Carlin continued to prove herself, making an impact and fighting to keep the Eagles in each of their games.

BC eventually found its footing, going on a three-game win streak to recoup the losses, but the Eagles were unsuccessful in keeping up the confidence after losing two close games to Louisville and St. Joseph’s. Carlin cited these two losses as the turning point in the season.

“We definitely had a rough start to the season, and we all realized that and as a team, especially our seniors were like, ‘We need to sit down and figure out what we need to do, what do we want,’” Carlin said. “Everyone decided we want to win, we want to win a championship.”

After the team changed its mindset and motivations, everyone took everything much more seriously, according to Carlin. They were determined to chase their goals.

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nce that switch had been flipped, the Eagles were on track to go the distance. 

BC took off, going on a six-game win streak, taking down ranked and unranked opponents alike. All the while, Carlin took matters into her own hands, scoring or assisting another in almost every single game, even scoring four goals of her own in BC’s shutout of BU. The Eagles fell only to No. 1 UNC, the team that would soon prove to be their demise time and time again.

Quickly after the Eagles’ streak was cut short by UNC, they faced Duke for the final game in the regular season, a game that was incredibly crucial for the team’s postseason hopes. As the Eagles were on the edge of NCAA Tournament contention, a win against Duke could propel them into an appearance on the national stage. 

“We were nervous in the locker room, but we were all like, ‘We know how good we are. We know we can do this,” Carlin said.

The contest began with high tensions that were not quelled for the entirety of the matchup. Neither team could secure the opening point, leaving the scoreboard empty throughout the first three periods of play. 

But as the clock hit the midway mark in the fourth period, the Eagles struck gold. Carlin secured a penalty corner for the Eagles with 10 minutes remaining in regulation and set up Govaert for a perfect shot. Govaert wasted no time, sending the ball past Duke’s goaltender and taking the win for BC.

As the regular season wrapped up on a high, all that was left was the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. With Carlin at the helm, the Eagles breezed past teams that had previously given them difficulty, sending them to the ACC Championship on their home turf. But despite a late effort to tie up the game, the Eagles fell to UNC in the finals.

The Eagles fought tooth and nail through the first two matchups of the NCAA Tournament, coming out on top due to late game goals that secured the victory. Carlin delivered the final blow against Louisville in the quarterfinals, scoring the shootout game winner to avenge the Eagles after their loss to Louisville in the regular season.

Carlin’s game winner did more than just secure a win for the Eagles, it sent BC to its first Final Four in program history. But with the good comes the bad, as the Eagles were set to face their kryptonite, UNC.

Carlin opened the scoring, securing a goal less than a minute into the game then again just minutes into the second period. And yet, despite her  efforts, the might of the undefeated UNC team was too much for the Eagles to overcome. 

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arlin has raised the bar for how successful the Eagles can be. In just her rookie season, she has secured her place in the Eagles’ record books, scoring the fourth-most goals in a single season as well as the fourth-most points by a single player. The last Eagles to score 10 or more goals in a single season were Lucy Lytle and Brittany Sheenan during the 2016 season, scoring 12 and 11 goals respectively.  

Her regular season and postseason performances earned her the honor of ACC Freshman of the Year and a position on the All-ACC First Team in addition to being one of three BC players named to the NFHCA All-America First Team.

But for Carlin, there are still ways for herself and the team to improve. She said she believes that if the mindset of the team is enough to completely turn around the season, it should be something worked on from the beginning of the preseason, not something picked up midway through a rough patch.  

“We had a great season, but we want to do better,” said Carlin. “We’re not going to be satisfied with how we ended last year, and we’re going to start from day one and all the way to the last day, and hopefully get that championship that we want.”

All Images by Bridget Clark / Heights Staff 

Olivia Charbonneau

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