Last year, Colorado State came into the US Lacrosse Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) Division I National Championship with a No. 11 seed and a nothing-to-lose attitude. They danced at halftime of games and four days later, had won a national championship.
UCLA came into this year’s championship with a No. 9 seed, and, shall we say, a nothing-to-lose attitude? Three days later, they’re in the national title game, and the only thing standing in their way is…Colorado State.
UCLA reached the final with a wild 14-13 double-overtime comeback win over Santa Clara while Colorado State had its own anxious moments before beating UCSB 10-7. They’ll meet for the national title on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Scottsdale Sports Complex.
Santa Clara completely dominated the first half of play against UCLA, moving out to a 9-4 lead in a game that didn’t even feel that close. But UCLA regrouped, and as they broke their halftime huddle, one of the players simply said, “Believe it.”
The Bruins scored two straight to open the half, but even after Santa Clara matched those scores to retake a five-goal lead a 11-6 wit 23:02 to play, UCLA never wavered.
“I can honestly tell you, there was not a second of that game when I thought we were going to lose,” said UCLA coach Shanta Loecker.
UCLA freshman Kelley McCarroll-Gilbert, who called the game “nerve-wracking” scored two goals just 44 seconds apart to pull the Bruins to within 11-8 midway through the second half, but the scored stayed that way for nearly 10 more minutes.
Finally, with six minutes to go, Morgan Oberstein scored to cut it to two. Then Courtney Randall cut it to one and with 1:56 left, Oberstein again connected to tie the game 11-11.
It looked like it was all going to be for naught. Santa Clara’s Maggie Burke scored with just 33 seconds left, ending a 22-plus minute scoring drought for the Broncos and they retook the lead 12-11.
UCLA’s Antoinette Brou won the ensuing draw and got the ball to McCarroll-Gilbert. She took the ball from the left wing, made a couple of moves and beat her defender and found herself wide open in front of the goal. She scored – her sixth goal of the game – to tie the score with just 15 seconds left to force overtime.
UCLA struck first in the overtime on a goal by Oberstein that gave the Bruins their first lead of the game, but Burke also got her sixth goal for Santa Clara to send it into sudden victory overtime. Oberstein again came through, taking a pass from behind the cage from Randall and scored her seventh goal of the game to send UCLA to the title game.