WWLL Champ Santa Clara a Clear No. 1
by David Ely | Special to Lacrosse Magazine
LOS ANGELES – For nearly the entire US Lacrosse Women's Division Intercollegiate Associates (WDIA) season, the talk has been about parity.
Anyone in the top-10 can beat anyone on any given day. It’s a standard cliché coaches like to spew to make sure their players don’t take anyone lightly.
WDIA coaches around the nation were adamant that it was true this year.
But then No. 1 ranked Santa Clara had to smash that conventional wisdom to pieces this weekend during the WWLL tournament at UCLA.
A week after easily dispatching No. 2 Lindenwood 11-5 at the Lindenwood Invitational, the Broncos smoked No. 3 UC Davis 16-8 in the WWLL semifinals and then outscored No. 5 UC Santa Barbara 8-2 in the second half in a 12-6 title-clinching win.
So much for parity, at least at the top.
There’s a favorite heading into May’s US Lacrosse WDIA National Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Santa Clara made that abundantly clear.
“I would say they’re hands down the No. 1 seed,” UCSB coach Paul Ramsey said moments after his club lost to Santa Clara.
It’s easy to understand why Ramsey would be that sure in his thinking.
UC Santa Barbara (12-3) had advanced to the final game in a loaded WWLL tournament, and the Gauchos played well in a first half that ended tied at 4.
But that’s when the Broncos (18-1) kicked into a higher gear that UCSB wasn’t able to match.
Santa Clara scored two quick goals to jump to a 6-4 lead. UC Santa Barbara briefly cut the game to 6-5 on a goal by Ashley Antoon-Algeria, but then Krista Shaw scored two of her four goals in a span of about 30 seconds and the rout was on.
“We knew that if they got their whole feeding and cutting offense started it was going to be a problem for us,” Ramsey said. “We did a pretty good job taking care of it for about 25 minutes of the first half -- definitely not the first five -- and we got back and made it 4-4
“I don’t know if that took too much energy just to come back or not but we were there and we had the break at halftime and just could not stop their offense in the second half.”
Despite his team’s second half dominance, Santa Clara coach Brendan O’Brien was quick to say that the Broncos could have played better.
“We didn’t play a good game today,” he said. “Santa Barbara plays us really tight and they play us well and they take us out of our game. It wasn’t until the second half that we started settling down.”
“ … I guess you’re never pleased unless you play a full 60 minutes, so that’s our goal.
That might sound like a harsh assessment considering that the Broncos were on the better side of the 12-6 outcome, and O’Brien did later concede that it was a nice weekend for the program.
“Heck of a weekend,” O’Brien said. “We avenged the (UC) Davis loss. You gotta be happy, that’s our first WWLL championship for Santa Clara.
“They played well. They played well in Lindenwood. They played well this weekend. Let’s hope they can maintain that and carry it to Arizona.”
As to if Santa Clara is the favorite heading into the nationals, O’Brien was noncommittal in his answer.
If he feels that his club is the team to beat, he isn’t going to let anyone know that.
“I would rather be the underdog,” O’Brien said. “But I’ll enjoy winning the West and wherever they seed us, we’ll take that.”
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