ROUND ROCK, Texas -- A long Thursday in Round Rock, punctuated by a severe weather disruption of over five hours, finished with most of the top seeds eventually earning their way into Friday’s semifinals of the USA Lacrosse WCLA Championship Tournament.
Thursday’s quarterfinal games began at 1 p.m. local time before being suspended about an hour later due to lightning strikes in the area. An initial 30-minute delay was extended throughout the afternoon due to ongoing weather disruptions until the games resumed at 7:30 p.m.
Despite the lengthy suspension, there was plenty of excitement during the evening session, highlighted by two overtime contests under the lights at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex.
The tournament's best Division II game thus far featured No. 1 seed Utah Valley needing overtime to fend off the upset bid by No. 8 seed Providence. The game was tied, 7-7, when the severe weather arrived in the afternoon, and it remained close after the resumption of play. Trailing by one in the closing minutes, Providence’s Ryan Delane scored to tie the game at 10-10 and force overtime.
The hero proved to be a likely candidate as Utah Valley’s Maya Lightfoot, recognized at Wednesday’s awards ceremony as the national player of the year, scored the game-winner on a solo dodge 2:50 into the extra session. Her only goal of the game lifted the Wolverines into the national semifinals for the first time in club history.
“I was looking at the clock and saw that the time was running down, so I knew we had to go to goal,” Lightfoot said. “Providence really gave us a fight tonight. It was a great game.”
As the number one ranked team throughout the season and the top seed for the tournament, Lightfoot acknowledged that her team feels a little bit of pressure to justify their ranking.
“Yes, it’s exciting to be ranked and seeded number one, but no doubt, we feel some pressure too. I know I do,” she said. “But this was a fun game.”
Utah Valley faces upstart Vermont in Friday’s first D-II semifinal. The Catamounts arrived in Texas as the No. 13 seed after finishing third in their league, but they have pulled off back-to-back upsets to earn a spot in the semifinals. On Thursday, they dominated No. 5 seed St. Thomas, winning 17-6, with senior Natalie Nelson scoring four goals to pace the offense.
“We’re a high-energy team, so it wasn’t hard for us to come back after the long break during the day,” she said. “Fast break goals made a big difference for us in today’s game.”
Two-time champion and No. 2 seed Loyola Maryland also moved one step closer to possibly capturing its third straight title, defeating No. 10 seed Boise State, 15-9. Four goals apiece from senior Liz Murphy and freshman Hannah Kleinbeck led the way. The Greyhounds face No. 6 seed New Hampshire, which beat Grand Valley State, 15-7, with Sofia Reardon scoring a game-high three goals.
The most exciting Division I quarterfinal game also required extra time to decide the winner between No. 4 seed Virginia Tech Club and No. 12 Michigan Club. Trailing 14-10 after three quarters, the Wolverines rallied in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 15 and forcing overtime on junior Miranda Jacobson’s free-position goal with 11 seconds left in regulation. The Hokies had the only possession in overtime, however, with junior Wynston Archer winning the draw and scoring the game-winner on a free position shot at 1:51 into the OT period.
“I knew I had to get it to go to the back of the net so we could win and move on,” Archer said. “I was able to place the shot where I wanted, mid-left on the goalie. We can’t be any more excited that we’re still alive and playing to have some more fun.”
National champion in 2009 and national runner-up in 2015, Virginia Tech will try to earn its third trip to the final when it faces No. 1 seed Boston College Club on Friday. After a slow start against UCLA, the Eagles broke open their quarterfinal game by outscoring the Bruins 5-1 in the fourth quarter for a 16-9 victory.
“Sometimes, we just have to remind ourselves to take a deep breath and just play our game, which includes setting each other up for good scoring chances,” said BC junior Grace Arthur, who finished with four goals and three assists. “We know that anything can happen in this tournament and any team can beat you, but we have good leadership and lots of chemistry, so that helps us a lot.”
Friday’s other D-I semifinal features a pair of undefeated teams in No. 2 seed Georgia against No. 3 seed Virginia. Georgia’s stingy defense, anchored by junior goalie and national player of the year Delaney Ott, was on full display Thursday evening with an 8-3 win over BYU that included a first half shutout. Ott finished with 13 saves as Georgia extended its record to 20-0 on the year, the most victories of any team in the nation.
Virginia got four goals from Harper Zaun and three goals by Maddie Brooks to defeat Arizona State, 13-4. The Cavaliers outscored ASU 8-2 in the second half to improve their record to 9-0 on the season.
Both the D-I and D-II national semifinal and championship games on Friday and Saturday will be available for viewing via free streaming.
DJO, MedStar Health, and Gatorade serve as official event sponsors for the 2022 USA Lacrosse WCLA Championships.
WCLA Division II Semifinal Games - Friday, May 6 (Central Time)
10 am — No. 1 Utah Valley (12-1) vs. No. 13 Vermont Club (8-3)
1 pm — No. 2 Loyola Maryland Club (12-1) vs. No. 6 New Hampshire Club (9-1)
WCLA Division I Semifinal Games - Friday, May 6 (Central Time)
4 pm — No. 1 Boston College Club (14-0) vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech Club (13-2)
7 pm — No. 2 Georgia (20-0) vs. No. 3 Virginia Club (9-0)