North Carolina Club Wins WCLA Division II Title
by Paul Ohanian | LaxMagazine.com
|North Carolina Club's Sarah McCullough scored the game-winning goal with 1:53 remaining to lift the Tar Heels to a 10-9 victory over James Madison Club in the WCLA Division II championship game Saturday. (Sam Owens)|
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Top-seeded North Carolina Club capped an undefeated season by rallying for a 10-9 victory over No. 2 seed James Madison Club to win the 2014 US Lacrosse Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) Division II National Championship at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex Stadium on Saturday. The Tar Heels scored the game's final three goals to secure their second national title in three years.
Trailing 9-7, UNC player-coach Mary Morgan Bitler, named the tournament's most outstanding attacker, recorded her third and fourth goals of the game to pull the Tar Heels even with 4:56 to play. After the teams traded turnovers, junior co-captain Sarah McCullough decided to call her own number on an isolation play and tallied the game-winner with 1:53 remaining.
James Madison, the defending national champion, had one more possession to tie the score in the final minute, but mishandled a pass in the offensive zone.
"I called that play to relieve some pressure off Mary," McCullough said. "JMU was doubling on the iso pretty quickly. I was surprised that the double didn't come, so I shot."
It was a case of déjà vu for both teams. McCullogh had also tallied the game-winner in overtime when UNC defeated JMU in the Mid Atlantic Women's Lacrosse League final played on April 13. UNC won that contest 15-14 in overtime.
"This is a great feeling because our goal has been to win the nationals since we started on September 1," Bitler said. "We have worked hard to not only get to the final, but to win it so that we can have this feeling."
Neither team led by more than two goals in the closely contested game which featured seven ties and four lead changes. That was not unexpected.
"I told our team that today's game would probably be like playing a thousand mini-games with lots of momentum changes," said Bitler, who finished with a game-high four goals.
Bitler tallied three goals on free position shots. Both teams finished with four free position goals in total. Goalie Madeleine Loeb finished with eight saves for the Tar Heels and was named the tournament's most outstanding goalie.
Junior midfielder Catherine Flood paced James Madison with two goals and a game-high four assists. Flood, who also recorded four goals in yesterday's semifinal victory, was named the tournament's most outstanding midfielder. Teammate Kelsey Weathers was named the tournament's outstanding defender.
Despite the loss, James Madison established a new record for most goals scored in a tournament, with 73 goals in four games.
Saturday's Game Scores
3rd Place Game: Loyola Club 21, Duke Club 11
5th Place Game: Utah 14, Oakland 7
7th Place Game: Denver Club 12, St. Benedict 9
9th Place Game: Cortland Club 20, SMU 16
11th Place Game: Gonzaga 21, UC San Diego 12
Kristen Koa, UC San Diego
Katarina Habelt, Gonzaga
Mary Liz Tuttle, SMU
Courtney Haas, Cortland Club
Amanda Dvorak, St. Benedict
Susie Meskill, Denver Club
Nina Grubba, Oakland
Haysun Choi, Utah
Caroline Blackburn, Duke Club
Erika Burns, Loyola Club
Meaghan Aylward, Loyola Club
Gabrielle Costabile, Loyola Club
Jennifer Perry, James Madison Club
Catherine Flood, James Madison Club
Ellen Keel, James Madison Club
Claire Scott, North Carolina Club
Katie Rodriguez, North Carolina
Mary Morgan Bitler, North Carolina Cluc
Keeper of Lacrosse Team Sportsmanship Award
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