Perfection: Unbeaten Chapman Wins US Lacrosse WCLA Division II Championship
by Brian Logue | LaxMagazine.com
Anjali Thota made 15 saves, including two in the last 15 seconds, to lead Chapman over Towson Club 9-8 for the US Lacrosse WCLA Division II National Championship.
© Cecil Copeland
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Anjali Thota might drive her coach crazy sometimes, but Chapman’s Brian Eisenberg had little to complain about after his sophomore goalie made 15 saves, including two huge ones in the final 15 seconds, to lift the Panthers over Towson Club 9-8 in the 2011 US Lacrosse Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) Division II National Championship game.
Trailing by one, Towson’s Hannah Gutcher took an inside pass and fired a no-look over the shoulder shot that Thota blocked. The Tigers got the ball back and off of an indirect free position attempt with six seconds left, Julia Townsend fed Beth Ann Jancuska just to the right of the goal. Jancuska fired a hard shot, but Thota again came up with the stop and the Panthers took home the national title, completing a perfect 18-0 season.
“It’s really surreal,” said Thota. “I think I blacked out at the end and I really don’t know what happened.”
Instinct took over and Gutcher’s shot wasn’t a complete surprise to her.
“The guys shoot on her all the time and we pull behind the back tricks all the time,” said Eisenberg. “For the Towson player to do that was such an amazing shot, and for A.J. to be there was even better.”
Now, if he could just get her to stay in the cage.
“She likes to get involved,” said Eisenberg.
“I’m so bad at staying home because I want to be a field player sometimes,” laughed Thota.
Thota was the difference maker in a great game that saw Towson make a gritty comeback, despite being down three players for the final 26 minutes of the game. Towson was issued five yellow cards during the game, forcing them to play with just eight field players for nearly half of the game.
“They were an amazing team and the fact that they were three down and they played like that was phenomenal,” said Thota.
The game was tied 3-3 at the half, but Chapman scored three times in the first seven minutes of the second half to go in front 6-3. Towson chipped away and finally came back to tie the game 8-8 with 5:16 remaining when Emily Holmes scored off a pass from Beth Ann Jancuska on an indirect free position.
It looked like overtime might be in the cards, but Chapman’s Allie Kontny shot from the left side and scored her third goal of the game with 1:24 left to give Chapman the final 9-8 edge. Kontny also had a pair of assists for the Panthers and senior Julia Hunsaker added three goals.
Gutcher, Holmes and Elizabeth McIntosh all had two goals for Towson.
In consolation action on Saturday, Utah avenged two defeats from earlier this season, beating state rival Westminster 15-10 in the 3rd place game. Haley Poulson scored the first three goals of the game for the Utes to stake them to an early lead and she finished with four. Laura Hunter led Utah with five goals. Lisa Webber and Lindsay Mark each had three for Westminster.
Southern Methodist scored the first nine goals of the game and went on to beat Minnesota-Duluth 11-4 in the 5th place game. Mary Liz Tuttle led the Mustangs with four goals and Maddie Holmes made seven saves. Kate Strassman led Minnesota-Duluth with two goals.
Oakland beat Wisconsin-River Falls 11-9 in the 7th place game. Ashley Krisfalusi had three goals and two assists for Oakland and Desiree Messina also had three goals. Blair Benecke and Phuong Le each had three goals for UW-River Falls and Amanda Mikelson made 14 saves.
US Lacrosse WCLA Division II All-Tournament Team
Julia Bales, D, Chapman
Julia Hunsaker, A, Chapman
Anjali Thota,G, Chapman
Nicol Schmitz, D, Minnesota-Duluth
Ashley Krisfalusi, A, Oakland
Jackie Gamper, D, Southern Methodist
Hannah Gutcher, A, Towson Club
Beth Ann Jancuska, M, Towson Club
Elizabeth McIntosh, M, Towson Club
Baylee Fox, D, Utah
Heather Hunter, M, Utah
Haley Paulson, M, Utah
Chelsea Farrell, A, Westminster
Amanda Mikelson, G, Wisconsin-River Falls
Championship Game Most Outstanding Players
Most Outstanding Player – Allie Kontny, Chapman
MOP, Attack – Julia Hunsaker, Chapman
MOP, Midfield – Beth Ann Jancuska, Towson Club
MOP, Defense – Hanna Zanti, Towson Club
MOP, Goal – Anjali Thota, Chapman
Team Sportsmanship Award