GRANVILLE—For the fifth-straight season and the 13th time overall, Denison women's lacrosse is the champion of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament. The Big Red defeated the College of Wooster, 17-10 in the title game on Saturday at Piper Stadium and will take a 16-2 record into next week's NCAA Division III Tournament.
It was all Denison early as the Big Red jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the opening 12 minutes of the contest. Thanks to some outstanding play in goal by Wooster's Katie Shideler, the Fighting Scots clawed their way back into the game, making it 8-4 with six minutes left in the first half.
Two of the biggest goals of the game came with under one minute left in the first half. Lea Israel scored an unassisted goal with 42 seconds remaining and after another draw control by Jane Goodspeed, Kiely Noonan found Lindsey Karsh knifing down the middle for her first goal of the game and her 16th of the season.
Leading 10-4 entering the second half, Wooster got the two goals back in a hurry after Laura Papp found Helena Enders and Alexa Mellis on back to back scores, shrinking the deficit back to four.
Denison's lead was four with 19:46 to play but a four-goal run by the Big Red put the game away. Kiely Noonan extended the run with her fourth goal of the afternoon. Sixteen seconds later, Claudia Rafi scored her second goal of the day and with 6:35 to play, Noonan scored again to put the Big Red on top, 16-8 with just over five minutes to play.
Denison held a 44-18 advantage in shots and the Big Red dominated draws, taking 23 of 29. Wooster's Shideler finished with 14 saves and Rose Taylor had four ground balls.
Denison's dominance at the center X was led by Goodspeed who finished with 11 draw controls and three ground balls. Israel was named the NCAC Tournament MVP and rightfully so. The senior stuffed the stat sheet with three goals, one assist, seven draw controls, eight ground balls and four caused turnovers.
Noonan led all scorers with five goals and one assist on 12 shot attempts. She was 2-for-4 on free position shots and also added five draw controls. Rafi and Maddy Heher posted two goals and two assists apiece and Karsh posted a hat-trick on just four shots. Liza Farnham and Halle Walsh rounded out the scoring with one goal and one assist each.
Becca Jones played the first 30 minutes in goal and Hannah Magarian relieved her in the second half. Each Big Red goalie finished with a pair of saves. In addition to Israel's MVP award, Goodspeed, Rafi, Noonan and Grace Gavula were named to the All-Tournament team.
The NCAA Division III Tournament selection show will be Sunday, May 6 at 10 p.m. Check denisonbigred.com for all of the information on Denison's first round NCAA opponent.