Saturday Wrap: Conference Champions Crowned, Tickets Punched

PHOTO BY KEARA CHAPERON / CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Central Michigan is the champion of the MAC for the first time.


Nine conference tournament champions were crowned today in Division I women’s lacrosse, each of which earned an automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament.

AAC: No. 7 FLORIDA STORMS PAST VANDERBILT

Fueled by a seven-point, six-goal effort by Danielle Pavinelli, No. 7 Florida handled third-seeded Vanderbilt 18-7 to claim its third-straight American Athletic Conference title. The win Florida’s ninth conference tournament crown since bursting onto the Division I scene in 2010.

Emily Heller scored four goals and added an assist, and Emma LoPinto tallied two goals and two assists. Emily Reznick stopped nine shots for Florida (15-4). Paige Gunning made 20 saves for Vanderbilt (11-7).

Heller scored with five seconds remaining in a closely contested first quarter to put the Gators in front 4-3. It was as if she flipped a switch.

Vanderbilt committed six turnovers in the second quarter as Florida went to work on offense. Pavinelli scored at 12:59, and LoPinto followed at 10:02. Defender Catherine Moriarty’s first career goal game with 5:48 left in the first half and put the Gators ahead 7-3. Shelton Sawers capped the 4-0 run at 3:47. Bri Gross got Vanderbilt back on the scoreboard with 2:17 left, but Heller scored at 1:49 to give the Gators a 9-4 halftime advantage. Florida scored the first three goals of the third quarter, taking a commanding 12-4 lead when Ashley Gonzalez scored at 3:40.

NEC: MOUNT TRIUMPHANT IN FINAL NEC GAME

Mount St. Mary’s and Bryant shared the NEC regular-season title, but the Mountaineers stand alone as tournament champions. The second-seeded Mount edged top-seed Bryant 15-13 for its second conference title in a row.

Dani Donoghue scored seven goals, and Madison Bradley made 15 saves for Mount St. Mary’s (15-4). Alexa Weber led Bryant (12-5) with a hat trick, while Sam Centofante stopped 12 shots.

After playing to a 6-6 tie in the first half, the Mountaineers used a 4-1 third-quarter run to go up 11-7 on a Beanie Colson goal with 1:38 on the clock.

The Bulldogs didn’t go quietly. Weber scored 30 seconds into the fourth quarter, and Chamberlaine Bell drove to the cage to cut the deficit to two, 11-9, with 14:07 left. Kenna Kaut wove through traffic and scored to bring the Bulldogs within one at 12:39. Kaut had a chance to even the score with a free position shot about three minutes later. Bradley made the stop, but Maggie Adams was there for the ground ball and put back to tie the score at 11 with 9:26 left.

The teams traded goals for the next five minutes, with Donoghue scoring twice for the Mount and Skylar Simmonds and Emily Diaz burying shots for Bryant.

Zoe Hurlburt broke the tie at 13 with a free position goal at 3:08, and Donoghue sealed the game by ripping a low shot for her seventh goal of the afternoon.

The meeting was the final between Bryant and Mount St. Mary’s as conference foes. The Bulldogs are headed to the America East, while the Mount will play in the MAAC.

ASUN: JACKSONVILLE CONTINUES DOMINANCE

For the fifth time in a row and seventh time in program history, Jacksonville is the Atlantic Sun tournament champion. The top-seeded Dolphins used an 11-3 second-quarter run to topple second-seeded Liberty 20-12.

Four Dolphins scored multiple times. Alyssa Arnold tallied a game-high six points on four goals and two assists. Grace Hobson (three goals, two assists), Sarah Elms (two goals, three assists) and Lauren Craft (four goals, one assist) tallied five points apiece for Jacksonville (13-4).

Cami Merkel netted a hat trick for the Flames (11-8), who are tournament runners-up for the third consecutive season.

With the score knotted at 2 early in the second quarter, Jacksonville seized control. It started when Jenny Kinsey found Morgan Prescott for a goal at 13:41. Arnold, Hobson and Craft followed to put the Dolphins in front 6-2 with 10:28 left in the half. Jordan Baerga scored from the eight-meter to cut the score to 6-3 at 9:18, but Jacksonville got right back to it when Elms scored at 8:41.

Two more from Hobson and one apiece from Arnold, Miya Scanlan and Craft gave Jacksonville a nine-goal cushion at 12-3. Each team found the back of the cage in the final minute, with Cami Merkel scoring from the eight-meter for Liberty and Molly Brock putting Jacksonville back up by nine, 13-4, with 47 ticks on the clock.

MAC: CENTRAL MICHIGAN MAKES HISTORY

Central Michigan is headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time in the program’s six-year history. The Chippewas, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, pulled away in the second half and downed second-seeded Robert Morris 20-10.

Brennan Paddy posted a game-high seven points on five goals and two assists. Kendall Hoyt had five goals and one assist, and Kelly Hoyt scored five times for Central Michigan (12-7). Erin Owens made 16 saves. Chelsea Coleman led Robert Morris (9-9) with two goals and an assist.

CMU took a 5-3 lead when Audrey White found Kelly Hoyt for a goal at 12:24 of the second quarter, but RMU scored the next four to go up 7-5 on a Colleen Tifft goal with 6:08 left in the first half. Maggie Diebold and Paddy scored for CMU to even the score at 7 at the break.

The Chippewas continued to seize momentum in the third quarter. Paddy scored back-to-back goals. The Hoyt sisters netted the next three — two for Kendall and one for Kelly — to cap a 7-0 run that extended CMU’s lead to 12-7 at 6:22.

Jerica Obee broke up the run with a free position goal at 5:41, but Kelly Hoyt struck again, again and again, scoring the next three to put CMU in front 15-8 heading into the fourth quarter.

Paddy tallied the first goal of the fourth quarter by burying a free position shot at 11:43, giving Central Michigan a 16-8 lead.







ACC: UNC BLASTS BC IN SECOND HALF

For the first 30 minutes, it looked as if Boston College was ready to exact revenge for an earlier one-goal defeat at the hands of North Carolina. A three-goal lead at halftime certainly made it seem that way.

But North Carolina awakened in the second half, going on an 11-goal run that completely deflated the Eagles in a 16-9 win. Behind four goals and five asssists from Jamie Ortega — who became the all-time leader in points in ACC history — the Tar Heels captured their sixth consecutive ACC championship.

Charlotte North scored three times, tying the Division I women’s all-time goals record of 341 held by Stony Brook’s Courtney Murphy.

Read more about the comeback, dominant stretch and record-breaking performances later this evening on usalaxmagazine.com from contributor Chapel Fowler.

BIG EAST: BEHRINS SENDS DENVER TO TITLE

Georgetown was a prime contender to steal an automatic qualifier from top-seeded Denver, and the Hoyas were ready to stir up a little chaos.

Mary Pagano’s score with 12:13 left in the third quarter put Georgetown up by five in the Big East title game, but a massive second-half push from the Pios gave them the late lead. Georgetown had to tie the score to send it to overtime before Bea Behrins sent Denver into the NCAA tournament with 2:30 left in double-OT.

Julia Gilbert had five goals and three assists, and Behrins scored five times for Denver (17-1). Erin Bakes had three goals and three assists for Georgetown (9-9), which also got 11 saves from Emily Gaven, who was a rock in latter stages of play.

The Hoyas closed the first half on a 5-1 run, with Emma Gebhardt’s goal before the half putting her side up 12-7. Pagano’s goal in the third quarter made it 13-8 before the Denver offense awakened. The Pios scored four straight — two from Behrins and one each from Gilbert and Sloane Kipp — to narrow the gap to 13-12.

Tatum Geist put the Hoyas back up by two, but a pair of goals from Gilbert 59 seconds apart tied the score at 14. Lauren Black scored the go-ahead goal — her 50th of the season — in a player-up situation.

With 1:09 left in regulation, Jordyn Sabourin took a feed from Bakes for the equalizer, keeping Georgetown’s hope of an NCAA tournament berth alive.

But Behrins had other plans. After a few threats by both teams in the first overtime, she scored 30 seconds into the second extra period for the win.

PATRIOT LEAGUE: LOYOLA CRUISES TO CROWN

Loyola has lost just once this season — a one-goal defeat at the hands of Syracuse on March 29. In just about every other game, the Greyhounds have dominated.

Two weeks after an eight-goal victory over Navy, Loyola (18-1) defeated the Mids 15-8 in the Patriot League championship game. Jillian Wilson scored five times, while Georgia Latch and Sam Fiedler each scored three times. Livy Rosenzweig had one goal and five assists.

Kasey Dietzel had three goals and one assist for Navy (15-5).

Wilson and Dietzel traded goals in the first few minutes, then a six-minute scoring drought for either side made way for a 6-0 Loyola run that broke the game open early. By the end of the first half, it was 9-3 in favor of Loyola.

Wilson and Fiedler both scored within the first two minutes of the third quarter, extending the lead to 11-3.

Navy was in charge for a 15-minute span between the third and fourth quarters, cutting a 12-5 deficit to 13-8, but the comeback attempt was too little, too late.

PAC-12: HUMPHREY CARRIES STANFORD

Stanford started its season 1-4. The Cardinal aren’t all that concerned about it anymore. Stanford completed its ultimate goal after turning its season around, taking down Arizona State in the Pac-12 championship game 18-12.

Ashley Humphrey broke her own program record with nine assists, helping Stanford (12-6) clinch an NCAA tournament berth. Both Ailish Kelly and Ali Baiocco scored five times.

Arizona State (11-8), which has a legit case to earn an at-large bid, got three goals and one assist from Katie Brodsky.

Stanford dominated the first 20 minutes, leading 9-2 on Jay Browne’s goal with 10:59 left in the first half. ASU scored four of the final five goals of the period, though, cutting the deficit to a manageable 10-6 at the break.

Emily Munro’s goal with 11:13 left in the third quarter put ASU as close as it could come in the second half — down 11-8. Stanford responded with three in a row — two from Kelly and one from Annabel Frist — to go up 14-8.

AMERICA EAST: VERMONT DANCING

For the first time ever, Vermont is the champion of the America East.

Albany scored the first five goals of the game and led by three with 13:57 remaining, but the Catamounts completed an epic comeback, taking home a 12-11 win and the America East title on a goal from Grace Giancola with 2:12 remaining. Giancola also scored the tying goal five minutes earlier.

Sarah Falk scored three times during a game-opening 5-0 run for Albany (8-9), but those would be the only three goals for her. The Vermont defense cracked down after those early lapses, and although the Catamounts trailed all the way until McKenzie Ballard tied the score at 10 with 8:58 remaining, Vermont looked like it was in charge for much of the second half.

Allie Maloney gave Albany an 11-10 lead with 8:31 left — a quick answer to a valiant Vermont comeback. But Giancola took matters into her own hands, lifting Vermont (14-4) to history.

HOW THE NIKE/USAL TOP 20 FARED

No. 6 Loyola defeated Navy 15-8
No. 7 Florida defeated Vanderbilt, 18-7
No. 12 Denver defeated Georgetown 16-15 (OT)
No. 17 Stanford defeated Arizona State 18-12

FULL SCOREBOARD

Central Michigan 20, Robert Morris 10
No. 12 Denver 16, Georgetown 15 (OT)
No. 7 Florida 18, Vanderbilt 7
Jacksonville 20, Liberty 12
No. 6 Loyola 15, Navy 8
Mount St. Mary’s 15, Bryant 13
No. 17 Stanford 18, Arizona State 12
Vermont 12, Albany 11

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