Pittsburgh Edges Boston College to Take First WCLA Title
by Paul Ohanian | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter
|Pitt celebrates after capturing its first WCLA title, earned with a 12-11 victory over Boston College in Saturday's final. (Sam Owens)|
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (May 10, 2014) – This season has been unlike any before for Pittsburgh, with number one national rankings and a first-ever top seed for the US Lacrosse Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) National Championships. But the Panthers didn't have anything in hand to commemorate their special season – until Saturday. With a 12-11 win over Boston College in the Division I final at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex Stadium, the Panthers now have some hardware to display as a permanent keepsake from the 2014 season.
"Our girls wanted this so bad and the focus has been there the whole season," said Coach Gary Neft, who guided his team to a 21-1 overall record.
Trailing upstart Boston College, the number 15 seed, 3-1 after the opening six minutes, Pitt used a five-goal run over the next nine minutes to claim a lead it would not relinquish. Senior midfielder Clare Sherry scored two goals and assisted on a third during the run, and senior Samantha Myers added two goals. The Panthers carried a 9-7 lead into halftime.
With upsets of No. 2 seed Florida and No. 3 seed Ohio State earlier in the tournament, Boston College never played like the number 15 seed they were given, and Saturday was no different. Fueled by three second half goals by senior Meghan Conley, the Eagles stayed within striking distance and pulled to within one, at 12-11, with 3:10 remaining on Conley's fifth goal of the game. BC controlled the ensuing draw, but failed to manage a potential game-tying shot. Pitt effectively controlled the ball for most of the final two minutes with excellent spacing and passing to avoid BC's double-team efforts.
"We knew that BC wouldn't go away. They are a great team and play a lot like we do," Neft said. "In that situation, we want to hold the ball, but then you risk losing your momentum. Should we go to goal or not? It's a tough decision."
Having an experienced team, led by 11 seniors who were appearing in the national championship tournament for the third time in four years, eased a bit of Neft's stress.
"They didn't panic under pressure and did a great job of keeping their poise," he said.
Senior midfielder Grace Gallagher said that having a cohesive group that shared a single focus helped lead the Panthers.
"Everybody had the same goal because we've been dreaming of this since last year," she said.
Myers led Pitt with four goals, while Sherry finished with two goals and two assists. Senior Kellyn Warren, named the tournament's most outstanding midfielder, added two goals and one assist in addition to stellar work on draws controls. Sophomore Courtney Brown, named the tournament's most outstanding defender, and goalie Katherine Sullivan, who made 7 saves, anchored the defense.
BC's Conley led all scorers with five goals and two assists, and was named the tournament's most outstanding attacker, while sophomore Kaitlin Brown added three goals. With 10 saves in Friday's semifinal victory over Ohio State and 11 saves against Pitt, BC's freshman goalie Marina Guigli was named the tournament's most outstanding goalie.
"I'm very proud of this team," said BC coach Suzanne Aronowitz. "They played their hearts out all week."
The Eagles finished the year with an 11-3 record.
Saturday's Game Scores
3th Place Game: UCLA 17, Ohio State 16
5th Place Game: Georgia 12, Santa Clara 8
7th Place Game: UC Santa Barbara 13, Michigan 8
9th Place Game: Towson 12, Florida 11
11th Place Game: Delaware 13, Texas 7
13th Place Game: Virginia Tech 12, Colorado State 9
15th Place Game: Colorado 15, Oregon State 14
Simone Thornton, Oregon State
Hannah Hilden-Reid, Colorado
Kenzie Bear, Colorado State
Rachael Pascale, Virginia Tech
Kim Khourie, Texas
Hannah Grant, Delaware
Katya Ruszczyk, Florida
Morghan Posko, Towson
Ellen Manson, Michigan
Katie Hubbert, UC Santa Barbara
Brooke Betts, Santa Clara
Sarah Biondich, Georgia
Eve Tranchito, Ohio State
Martine Erlich, UCLA
Samantha Fletcher, UCLA
Gretchen Kiep, UCLA
Nicole Wei, Boston College
Sydney Esiason, Boston College
Marina Guigli, Boston College
Julie McKay, Pittsburgh
Clare Sherry, Pittsburgh
Allison Tizio, Pittsburgh
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