The Denison University women’s lacrosse team (15-3) earned its 13th NCAC title after defeating Wooster (12-4), 17-10, on Saturday, May 5th, in the 2018 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 2018 NCAA Div. III Tournament and will host Calvin (12-5) on Saturday, May 12th in a second-round matchup. This is Denison’s 20th NCAA Tournament appearance and the program’s seventh berth in the last eight years. The winner of the Denison/Calvin contest will take on the winner of Salisbury (18-1) versus the first round match-up winner of Merchant Marine (14-2) and Meredith (15-4) in the third-round on Saturday, May 19 at a site to be determined.
Denison defeated Allegheny (9-8), 24-8, on Wednesday to advance to the championship game. The Big Red leaned on sophomore Kiely Noonan’s (Wellesley, MA/Wellesley) four goals and three 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 seven goal victory.
Denison junior attack Maddy Heher (Morristown, NJ/Morristown) got the scoring started early with a goal at the 28:55 mark, assisted by senior Claudia Rafi (Mason, OH/Ursuline Academy). Freshman Liza Farnham (Barrington, RI/Moses Brown) closed out the early six-goal scoring barrage after finding the back of the net on an unassisted goal with 17:24 remaining in the half. Wooster responded scoring three of the next four goals as Emma Lawrence (Wilbraham, MA/Williston-Northhampton), Katie Harvey (Ellicott City, MD/St. Timothy’s School) and Alexa Mellis (Wexford, PA/Pine-Richland) all got on the board for the Fighting Scots. Leading by four, Denison closed the half scoring three of the final four goals, two from senior Leah Israel (Bloomfield, MI/Cranbrook Kingswood) to take a 10-4 lead at the break.
Wooster opened the second half on a 4-2 run, capped off by Mellis’ third of the game to bring the Fighting Scots within four goals, 12-8, with 19:46 left in the game. The Big Red answered with a run of four-straight goals, two from Noonan to stretch Denison’s lead to eight with just 6:35 remaining. The Fighting Scots did outscore DU, 2-1, in the final five minutes but it wasn’t enough as the Big Red posted a seven-goal victory to advance to the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Tournament for the fifth year in a row.
Denison was outstanding on the afternoon in draw controls, holding a 23-6 edge over Wooster, led by junior defender Jane Goodspeed (East Grand Rapids, MI/East) with 11. Noonan led the Big Red with six points, including a game-high five goals, while Heher and Rafi finished with four points each on two goals and two assists. Wooster junior Laura Papp (Ada, MI/Forest Hills Northern) led the Fighting Scots with six points on two goals and four assists.
Following the completion of the game, Denison’s Israel was named the tournament MVP after she finished the two-game stretch 15 draw controls, nine ground balls, six goals, four caused turnovers and one assist.
Wooster defeated second-seeded Wooster (12-4), 14-11, in the semifinals to advance to the NCAC Tournament Championship for the first time since 2013.