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May 9, 2014

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15th-Seeded BC To Take On No. 1 Pitt for WCLA D1 Crown

by Paul Ohanian | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Boston College - seeded 15th - advanced to today's WCLA National Championship against Pittsburgh with a victory Friday over Ohio State. (Sam Owens)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (May 9, 2014) – There's a classic script now in place for the 2014 US Lacrosse Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) National Championship Game, to be played Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex Stadium. It'll be the heavy favorite, No. 1 seed Pittsburgh, against the surprising underdog, No. 15 seed Boston College, with the Division I title on the line.

Pittsburgh defeated No. 5 seed UCLA, 11-7, in Friday's first semifinal game, while BC continued its string of upsets by taking down No. 3 seed Ohio State, 13-9, in the other semifinal, setting up Saturday's showdown.

For many years, Pittsburgh played the underdog's role, but the Panthers have turned from hunters into the hunted this season and carry a 19-1 record into the championship game. A seven-goal run that overlapped the end of the first half into the first 10 minutes of the second half was the difference in Friday's game.

"That's the way we play," said Coach Gary Neft. "We need those runs, and we got it."

After three early tie scores, UCLA took its only lead of the game with 4:31 remaining in the first half on a goal by Samantha Fletcher. That's when the Panthers started their run. Kellyn Warren scored at 2:58 to knot the score once again, then Samantha Myers scored with 27 seconds left to send Pitt into halftime with a 5-4 advantage.

Five goals to start the second half, capped by Allison Tizio's tally on an assist from Julie McKay, pushed the score to 10-4 with 20:21 remaining and put the Panthers firmly in control. Freshman Kelly Dudley countered with back-to-back goals for UCLA to briefly provide some hope, but the Bruins couldn't sustain the rally.

Christa Laustsen, Lia Winter and Tizio led a balanced Pittsburgh offense with two goals apiece, while senior goalie Katherine Sullivan (11 saves) and the Panther defense kept the Bruins at bay.

"She (Sullivan) played out of her mind," said Neft, who also cited defenders Erica Wilkerson and Julia Lauritzen for keeping UCLA in check. "Our defense gets all the credit in this one."

Pitt is now one win away from becoming the second straight No. 1 seed to win the national championship, but will have to avoid Boston College's magic ride which already includes victories over No. 2 seed Florida and No. 3 seed Ohio State.

The Eagles spotted Ohio State an early 1-0 lead in Friday's second semifinal game, then scored seven straight goals over a span of 14 minutes to seize control. Senior Meghan Conley fueled the run by scoring all four of her goals during that stretch, with many coming in transition.

"Speed has been a big factor for us all season," said Coach Suzanne Aronowitz.

Trailing 13-6, the Buckeyes tried to mount a late rally. Goals by Katie Graf and Tara Benninger pulled OSU to within five at the six minute mark, but by the time Ohio State scored its final goal with 1:27 to go, Cinderella knew she'd still be dancing on Saturday.

"This may be a great underdog story, but we don't feel that way," Aronowitz said. "We just feel like we've come into the tournament at the right time. We've played our three best games of the season."

Conley led all scorers with four goals, with senior Nicole Wei adding three and juniors Jennifer Racanelli and Caroline Connolly scoring two each. Freshman goalie Marina Guigli anchored BC's defense with 11 saves.

Graf and Benninger led Ohio State with two goals each.

Friday's Consolation Bracket Game Scores
Georgia 15, Michigan 5
Santa Clara 12, UC Santa Barbara 11 (overtime)
Virginia Tech 23, Oregon State 6
Colorado State 13, Colorado 8
Towson 14, Texas 7
Florida 20, Delaware 15


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