Freshman Margo Carlin comes from a family of field hockey players, and the game is an integral part of who she is—a determined, passionate, and humble team player. Sidelined with an ACL injury during her senior year of high school, Carlin didn’t stop growing in her sport. She spent the season as a coach, mentoring younger players, learning the game from a new perspective, and putting in the mental and physical work of recovery.
When it was time for her to take the field as a freshman at Boston College, Carlin says, “I was definitely a little nervous because it was my first college season. I was also worried that people might think I wasn’t playing as well as before the injury.”
But her teammates helped Carlin feel at home at BC. “All the upperclassmen were so welcoming and so nice, right off the bat. We have a great dynamic, and I really love the team.”
The season began with some disappointing losses. “We had a rough start,” says Carlin. “But the coaches never stopped believing in us. They knew how good a team we were and eventually, the whole team could see that. We knew we had to take it game by game.”
And game by game, the team picked up momentum. They had a historic run, with a 15-8 record, a second-place finish in the ACC Championship, and a trip to the NCAA Final Four. With 20 goals, Carlin was BC’s leading scorer. She was named NFHCA First Team All-American, ACC Freshman of the Year, All-ACC First Team member, and NFHCA All-Northeast Region First Team.
“It was an amazing experience,” says Carlin. “But as a team, we were not satisfied with how it ended and looking to the future, we want to change that result.”
Field Hockey Coach Kelly Doton firmly agrees. “When I think about winning a championship,” Doton says, “I know that we will have to outwork every other team in the ACC—not because we want to, but because we have to. I wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s what makes me invested in the program: knowing that I have a real impact by coaching this team, and knowing that we are working hard to achieve our goals.”
With only two dedicated full-time personnel—Doton and assistant coach Mark Foster—the field hockey staff is one of the leanest in the ACC. “That’s just the nature of it,” says Doton. “We could sit and talk about everything we want, but that certainly doesn’t take away from everything that we have.”
One significant advantage, she says, is the enthusiasm of Eagles everywhere. “We could really feel the support of the BC community as we gained momentum this season. I was getting emails, texts, and phone calls from alumni around the world.”
“People who had never been involved with field hockey called to wish us luck and tell us they’re behind us. BC is a special community like that. BC alumni, whether they played sports or not, want success for every program. It’s so special for the players to feel that. It’s so important for them to feel the support from the entire University, and that really made a difference for us at the end.”
Doton, Carlin, and the team are determined to pursue a national championship next year. But for now, Doton is concentrating on recruiting.
“I’m looking for great people that are great field hockey players, in that order.” She struck gold with Carlin, a natural leader who is committed to working hard, who cannot imagine life without field hockey, and who has ambitions of becoming a developmental psychologist.
“I also tell recruits that we’re not field hockey 24 hours, seven days a week, because life is just not like that. I want them to have balance, and being at Boston College really influences that aspect of my coaching and recruiting,” says Doton.
“BC is a special place for student-athletes because it has three pillars: you can get a fantastic academic degree, you can compete for a national championship, and you can become a better person through serving the community. No one pillar is higher than the other and you don’t have to sacrifice one to get to the other. At the end of the day, balance in life is key,” says Doton.