WLAX secures NCAA Tournament spot with first-ever OAC Championship

John+Carroll%27s+Women%27s+Lacrosse+team+celebrates+after+winning+the+OAC+Championship+on+May+1%2C+2021.+They+also+clinched+a+bid+to+the+NCAA+Tournament.

Anna Meyer

John Carroll’s Women’s Lacrosse team celebrates after winning the OAC Championship on May 1, 2021. They also clinched a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Anna Meyer, Sports Editor

In 2015, John Carroll University launched its Women’s Lacrosse program. Over the last seven years under Head Coach Rachel Dell, they have secured 74 wins, but Saturday’s victory was the most monumental and satisfying yet. 

On Saturday, May 1, the John Carroll Blue Streaks made program history winning their first-ever Ohio Athletic Conference Championship title in a 20-10 victory over the Mount Union Purple Raiders at Don Shula Stadium.

“Every player who has ever played on this team has been playing for this trophy and this championship,” said Dell. 

The OAC Tournament Championship trophies that were given to the JCU WLAX team after Saturday’s victory. (Anna Meyer)

This accomplishment was quite a feat. Since the OAC began women’s lacrosse play in 2014, Mount Union has come away with the championship hardware every time.

“We had been talking about being here and we’ve never hidden our goal to win the OAC Championship and play well beyond that,” said Dell. “We had come close to advancing to the OAC Championship game twice. The difference was back then, ‘We could win the OAC.’ This year it was, ‘We will win the OAC.’”

With the victory, the Blue and Gold receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Tournament. 

“We are over the moon about this opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament,” exclaimed Dell after watching the NCAA selection show. “We have worked very hard to play with some of the best teams in the country. We are ready to prove our national ranking in the top 20 and or higher this year.”

The entire women’s lacrosse team and coaching staff after winning the OAC Championship at Don Shula Stadium on Saturday, May 1 (Anna Meyer )

 

John Carroll got off to a hot start on Saturday with a 5-0 scoring run. Alex Heishman captured the first two goals of the contest while Colleen Grombala, Clare Mezzoprete and Emma Workman contributed the other three goals that gave John Carroll a 5-0 lead just five minutes into the game. 

Mount Union silenced the Blue Streaks’ scoring as Sydney Bumbarger scored her first goal for the Purple Raiders. In response, Mezzoprete captured a hat trick with back-to-back goals. 

As the first half continued, so did the scoring for John Carroll. At halftime, the Blue Streaks went into the locker room with a 12-5 advantage. 

Despite being behind, Mount Union continued to pressure the Blue Streaks defense, cutting the difference to six goals, with JCU ahead 16-10 at the 16:30 mark. After that, John Carroll shut out Mount Union for the remainder of the game and won by a final score of 20-10. 

The Blue Streaks were led in scoring by graduate student Grombala with six goals. She leads all divisions of the NCAA in goals for the 2021 season with 95. 

Colleen Grombala scoring one of her six goals in the OAC Tournament Championship game on Saturday, May 1, at Don Shula Stadium. (Anna Meyer )

Mezzoprete followed behind Grombala with four goals while Heishman and Carly Ross captured three goals each.

Mary Doherty proved effective in the draw control, recording a team-high 12 on the afternoon. 

Kaleigh Kotula played 41:14 minutes in the game and grabbed two saves. Maddie Munding received 18:46 minutes of playing time and added three saves on the day as well.

On Monday, May 3, NCAA.com announced that John Carroll University (16-1) will face off against UW River Falls (9-2) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

John Carroll University Women’s Lacrosse team watching the NCAA Division III Selection Show on Monday, May 3, in Donahue Auditorium. (Anna Meyer)

The game will be played at the University of Chicago on Saturday, May 8, at 8 p.m. EST.