WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Freshman midfielder Michelle Gildea scored with :35 seconds left in overtime to lift the No. 1 seeded Towson University women’s lacrosse team to a 12-11 overtime win against No. 2 James Madison University in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championship game.
Towson (11-7) won its third straight CAA title and sixth overall. The Tigers are the first team to ever win three straight CAA women’s lacrosse titles.
CAA Co-Player of the Year Andi Raymond was named the Most Outstanding Player. Raymond had six goals and two assists in the two games including three goals and two assists in the championship game. She was joined on the all-tournament team by senior midfielder Kelly Murkey, junior goalkeeper Kelsea Donnelly and junior defender Michelle Dufault.
“The team took care of business today,” said CAA Coach of the Year Sonia LaMonica. “We knew it would be a tall order against a tough James Madison team and our Tigers hung tough and managed to pull it out. There were momentum shifts throughout the game but our girls stayed focused. It’s great to have such a team effort.”
The Tigers got off to an incredible quick start in the game with five goals in the first 9:17 of the game. Raymond scored three of the Tigers’ goals during that stretch and assisted on another one. Redshirt senior attacker Ashleigh Rohrback had a goal and an assist while senior midfielder Katie Leech collected a ball off a clearing pass and punched it home for her first goal of the year.
James Madison (11-7) briefly halted the Tiger run with a goal at 19:35. However, the Tigers went right back to work as junior attacker Taylor Moore scored off a pass from freshman midfielder Colby Unkle at 12:22.
The Dukes scored three goals in a 1:15 span to pull to within two, 6-4 with 10:56 left in the half. Taylor Gress had a goal and an assist during that run for James Madison. The two teams traded goals over the final 8:30 minutes of the half and the Tigers took a 7-5 lead at the half.
James Madison outshot the Tigers 14-11 in the first half and won seven of the 13 draw controls.
CAA Rookie of the Year Gabby Cha opened the second half scoring with an unassisted goal at 27:13. A pair of Stephanie Finley goals pulled James Madison to within one, 8-7 with 23:29 left in regulation. Freshman midfielder Samantha Brookhart scored at 20:55 which put Towson back up by two, 9-7.
Back-to-back goals from the Dukes tied the game at 9-9 with 15:38 to play. Amy Roguski had a goal and assist during that scoring spurt for James Madison. Cha’s second of the game put Towson back up, 10-9 with 10:13 to go in regulation.
Ali Curwin scored with 2:12 to go in regulation which tied the game at 10-10. That was the last goal in regulation and the two teams headed to overtime for the second time this season.
In the extra session, the Tigers took an early lead as Unkle scored with 4:24 to play. Megan Piotrowicz scored with 1:24 to play to tie the game at 11-11. Towson won the ensuing draw and Cha found a cutting Gildea. She fired home a high shot to give Towson the 12-11 lead with 35 seconds to play. Towson won the last draw and ran out the clock to secure the victory.
James Madison outshot the Tigers 11-9 in the second half but the Tigers outshot the Dukes 4-1 in the overtime period. James Madison ended the game with a 26-24 advantage in shots. The Dukes won five of nine draw controls in the second half. The Tigers won four of five draws in the overtime and finished the game with a 14-13 edge in that category.
Donnelly made eight huge saves to earn the win in goal for the Tigers. Schylar Healy made five saves for James Madison.
Raymond led Towson with three goals and two assists while Cha had two goals and an assist. Rohrback contributed a goal and two assists while Unkle and Brookhart each had a goal and an assist.
Finley and Piotrowicz led James Madison with three goals each. Roguski had two goals and three assists for the Dukes.
With the win, the Tigers earned the CAA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Towson will find out its first round opponent and game site when the NCAA Tournament selection show airs tonight at 9 p.m. on NCAA.com.