Peyton Romig Draws Up UIndy's First-Ever National Championship

PHOTO BY SOPHIA SCHELLER


Midfielder Peyton Romig scored just two goals in Sunday’s Division II women’s NCAA championship game, but she was easily the deciding factor in leading Indianapolis to its first national title with an 11-9 victory over East Stroudsburg in St. Charles, Missouri.

As the nation’s premiere draw specialist, the All-American midfielder dominated the game, finishing with 16 draw controls to help the Greyhounds control possession throughout. That translated to a massive 34-15 edge in total shots for UIndy, a significant difference in what proved to be a two-goal game.

In recognition of her impact and superiority, Romig was selected as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

UIndy head coach James Delaney clearly had these types of performances in mind when he spoke about Romig during a preseason interview.

“Peyton is an incredible talent and our most impactful player,” he said at the time. “Her ability to control the game all over the field is massive. She’s just such a huge piece of what we do on the field.”

Romig, a fifth-year graduate student from Carthage, N.Y., has been a force for the Greyhounds since arriving as a freshman in 2018. Sunday’s game was a culmination of a record-setting season in which she finished with a career-high 259 draw controls, tops in the nation.

“Knowing this was my last game, I just wanted to go out playing my hardest, and that’s all I was doing,” Romig said. “Get this ball, some way, somehow. That’s all that was going through my mind. I knew we needed the possessions to go down on offense and score.”

Despite the advantage in shots and possessions for UIndy, the score was tied at 7 as the third quarter was coming to a close, a credit to an opportunistic East Stroudsburg team and the brilliant play of senior goalie McKenzie Gaghan, who finished with 14 saves.

But a late goal by UIndy’s Sarah Klein, who beat Gaghan on a bouncer with 10 seconds left in the third quarter, would move the Greyhounds ahead by one heading into the final stanza.







Klein then added her fourth of the game just 67 seconds into the fourth quarter, and All-American Abigail Lagos (three goals) scored on a laser shot from the 8-meter arc three minutes later to cap a four-goal run and extend UIndy’s lead to its largest of the game at 10-7.

Making its first championship game appearance in the program’s 58-year history, ESU battled back to within one with four minutes remaining on consecutive goals by Gianna LeDuc and Kiki Fitzgerald. But the Warriors never got a shot attempt for the equalizer.

A man-down goal by UIndy’s Quinn Malcolm with 1:40 left provided the insurance for the Greyhounds, who capped the season with a school-record 17 game winning streak and finished 22-1 overall.

“I’m blessed to have one of the best players in the country and the greatest draw taker,” said UIndy head coach James Delaney. “Peyton Romig is the definition of a winner, on and off the field. She’s cool, calm and collected. When you have her on your side, you just know you’re going to win the next draw. Good things are going to happen.”

Delaney, named UIndy’s head coach at the start of the program’s third season in 2018, has led Indianapolis to four straight NCAA tournament appearances, and now, to the second NCAA title in school history. UIndy’s only other NCAA title was in women’s golf in 2015.

“It’s been a long road over five years, and it still doesn’t feel real,” Delaney said. “I am just so lucky to coach these girls who are absolute warriors, who battle and put it all on the line to be called national champions. I’m not an easy coach to play for. We challenge the kids every single day, and they rise above the challenge every day. They sacrifice a ton to be in this position and to call themselves national champions.”

Lagos caps her career as UIndy’s all-time goals scoring leader with 213 goals, including a nation’s best 93 goals scored in 2022.

“We’ve had some tough losses on this field [Hunter Stadium on the Lindenwood University campus], and that was kind of in the back of some of our minds,” Lagos said. “We came in with the mindset that we didn’t want to lose again on this field. We had so many of our alumni here today that were supporting us. We capitalized on the energy.”

All-American sophomore midfielder Emily Mitarotonda finished with a team-high three goals to lead East Stroudsburg, despite being hounded throughout the game by UIndy’s All-America defender Kara Antonucci. Mitarotonda established new ESU single-season records for goals (89) and points scored (111) in 2022. East Stroudsburg finished the year with a 20-2 record.

“It’s hard to walk away right now feeling super great,” ESU head coach Xeni Barakos-Yoder said. “We overcame a lot of adversity this year, losing six of our players to ACL injuries, and yet everyone continued to step up. I’m so proud of them.”

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