The Denison University women’s lacrosse team (15-3) earned its 11th NCAC title after defeating Oberlin (14-2), 15-10, on Saturday, May 6th, in the 2017 NCAC Women’s Lacrosse Tournament championship game in Granville, Ohio.
With the victory, the Big Red have earned the NCAC’s automatic bid into the 2017 NCAA Div. III Tournament and will host Brockport (15-2) on Sunday, May 14th in a second-round matchup. This is Denison’s 19th NCAA Tournament appearance and the program’s sixth berth in the last seven years. The winner of the Denison/Brockport contest will take on the winner of Colby (15-3) versus the first round match-up winner of Plymuouth State (11-3) and Middlebury (13-4) in the third-round on Saturday, May 20 at a site to be determined.
Denison defeated Wittenberg (11-7), 19-9, on Wednesday to advance to the championship game. The Big Red leaned on freshman Kiely Noonan’s (Wellesley, MA/Wellesley) four goals and two assists to advance to the finals. In the championship game, Denison scored the first six goals of the game and never looked back en route to the five goal victory.
Denison senior attack Claire Ludlow (East Grand Rapids, MI/East) got the scoring started with an unassisted goal at the 28:24 mark, while junior attack Claudia Rafi (Mason, OH/Ursuline Academy) closed out the early six-goal scoring barrage after finding the back of the net with 11:52 left in the half. Oberlin closed the gap at 6-2 on back-to-back goals from senior attack Sara Phister (Phoenix, AZ/Mountain Pointe), but DU scored two of the last three goals in the half to take am 8-3 lead at the break.
DU opened the second half on a 4-1 run, capped off by a goal from sophomore attack Maddy Heher (Morristown, NJ/Morristown) to give the Big Red a 12-4 lead with 21:51 left in the game. The Yeowomen did outscore DU, 6-2, in the final 21 minutes of action, which included two more tallies from Phister, but it wasn’t enough as the Big Red posted the five-goal victory to advance to the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Tournament for the fourth year in a row and the sixth time in the last seven years.
Ludlow and Rafi were two of four Big Red players to net a hat trick in the game, while Phister led all scorers in the game with seven total points on five goals and two assists. Oberlin senior goalie Alexa L’Insalata (Plainsboro Twp., NJ/West Windsor-Plainsboro North) finished the game with 13 saves in the cage, while DU split duties in the cage with sophomore Hannah Magarian (Minneapolis, MN/Blake) making seven saves and junior Becca Jones (Wolfeboro, NH/Brewster Academy) stopping three shots.
Following the completion of the game, Denison sophomore defender Jane Goodspeed (East Grand Rapids, MI/East) was named the tournament MVP after she finished the two-game stretch with 11 draw controls, five ground balls and four caused turnovers.
Oberlin defeated third-seeded Allegheny (9-6), 13-8, in the semifinals to advance to its second NCAC Tournament Championship in the last three years. The Yeowomen were represented on the all-tournament team by Phister, Michaela Puterbaugh (Canton, OH/Jackson), Sloane Garelick (West Windsor, NJ/West Windsor-Plainsboro South) and Sydney Allen (Indianapolis, IN/Park Tudor School).
Allegheny was represented on the all-tournament team by Shelby Piper (Littleton, CO/Chatfield) and Kaelin Clogan (Pittsburgh, PA/Pine Richland), while Wittenberg was represented by Emily Wadds (Cincinnati, OH/Wyoming) and Mary Alyce Fulong (Louisville, KY/Sacred Heart).