Three Semifinalists Advance in D2 WCLA Action
|Loyola's Allison Rose had 12 goals in two games to help the Greyhounds advance to Friday's WCLA semifinals against No. 1 seed North Carolina. (Sam Owens)|
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (May 8, 2014) – North Carolina, James Madison and Loyola Maryland each secured berths in the Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) Division II national semifinalists Thursday with two victories apiece in pool play competition. The fourth semifinalist will be determined based on the completion of pool play Friday morning.
No. 1 seed North Carolina began the day with a 15-11 win over No. 12 SUNY Cortland and followed with a 12-6 victory over No. 8 Oakland in the afternoon. Freshman Julie Wulforst led the Tar Heels in their opening win with five goals, while junior Sarah Kennedy paced UNC with five goals against Oakland.
Having to play twice on a warm and humid day didn't deter the top-seeded Heels from their mission.
"Initially, we thought it was a disadvantage because it hasn't been this hot in Chapel Hill," said player-coach Mary Morgan Bitler. "But the first game gave us a chance to get going."
No. 2 seed James Madison also found itself in a similar position, facing two games in a span of four hours, but judging by its game scores, the Dukes didn't come close to wilting in the heat. The defending national champions opened the day with a 23-0 win over No. 11 St. Benedict and later added a decisive 21-7 victory over No. 7 SMU. James Madison shared the scoring wealth throughout the day, with fourteen different players scoring against St. Ben and 10 different players scoring in the win over SMU.
With 44 goals in its first two games, James Madison is on pace to break the D-II record for most goals scored in a tournament (52). Utah set the mark last year while finishing as the national championship runner-up.
No. 4 seed Loyola Maryland almost matched JMU in offensive production, tallying a combined 41 goals in its two wins. Allison Rose scored five goals and Erika Burns added four to guide the Hounds past Denver, 19-6, in their opening game, then Rose netted seven goals to lead Loyola to a 22-11 win over Gonzaga. Rose's seven goals tied for the second highest single-game total in D-II tournament history.
Meanwhile, No. 3 Utah easily won its opening game in record-setting fashion, 25-9, over UC San Diego. But while the Utes established a new tournament record for goals in a game, it was their second game, against No. 6 Duke, that ultimately proved to be the game of the day.
Utah led 14-11 late in the second half before Duke scored three straight to knot the score at 14-14 with 1:47 remaining. Another Utah goal, unassisted by Haley Paulson, pushed the Utes ahead with 53 seconds left. But Duke rebounded again, with Malia Stephens scoring unassisted with 22 seconds to go, forcing the first overtime game of the tournament.
Women's collegiate overtime games feature two, three-minute periods. Duke's Melissa Frio tallied twice in the first session to push the Blue Devils ahead, 17-15. Paulson answered with her sixth goal of the game for Utah with eight seconds left in the first OT period, pulling the Utes to within one. But Utah would never see the ball again.
Duke controlled the draw to open the second extra session and effectively maintained possession for the full three minutes to run out the clock. Utah never got a chance to tie.
"We don't play overtime games during the season, so it's definitely exciting," Frio said. "Winning that draw to start the last overtime was so important."
Duke is now in position to control its own destiny on Friday. A victory over UC San Diego in the last pool game will allow the Devils to claim the last semifinal berth. If UC San Diego wins that game, a tiebreaker system will be utilized to fill the last spot among Utah, Duke and UC San Diego.
WCLA Division II Championship – Thursday's Pool Play Game Scores
#1 UNC 15, #12 SUNY Cortland 11
#2 JMU 23, #11 St. Benedict 0
#3 Utah 25, #10 UC San Diego 9
#4 Loyola 19, #9 Denver 6
#1 UNC 12, #8 Oakland 6
#2 JMU 21, #7 SMU 7
#4 Loyola 22, #5 Gonzaga 11
#6 Duke 17, #3 Utah 16 (overtime)
WCLA Division II Championship – Friday's Pool Play Game Schedule (all games at 10 a.m.)
#8 Oakland vs. #12 SUNY Cortland
#7 SMU vs. #11 St. Benedict
#6 Duke vs. #10 UC San Diego
#5 Gonzaga vs. #9 Denver
WCLA Division II Championship – Friday's National Semifinals Game Schedule (games at 1 p.m.)
#1 UNC vs. #4 Loyola
#2 JMU vs. Utah/Duke/UC San Diego
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