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Sports / Recreation

Another championship for CSU women's lacrosse

May 11, 2011
By Tony Phifer

True to form, the Rams had to rally from behind before knocking off UCLA in the championship game to win their third national title in four years.

Members of the CSU women's club lacrosse team celebrate in Scottsdale, Ariz., after winning their third national championship in four years.The CSU women’s lacrosse club won its second consecutive national championship Sunday in familiar fashion: coming from behind.

The Rams, vying for their third national title in four years, trailed UCLA 7-5 at halftime of the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates championship game after yielding five consecutive goals to close the period. Playing in the scorching heat in Scottsdale, Ariz., CSU’s title run appeared to be in jeopardy.

The Rams, though, were in familiar territory. They had a season-long habit of falling behind before rallying to victory, so they did not panic.

“For some reason our team does really well when we’re down,” first-year CSU coach Anna Pranger said. “That was the difference between our team and all the others because we never gave up. We kept our heads up the entire time and kept playing hard. I love our team because they have so much heart.”

Familiar form

True to form, the Rams rallied past UCLA 11-9 to win the title, scoring four goals in the first eight minutes of the second half to take a 9-7 lead. CSU stretched the advantage to 10-7, holding UCLA scoreless for the first 25 minutes of the half.

“At halftime we had to re-gather ourselves and remind ourselves that we had worked hard and deserved to be there,” said Dana Goddard, a defender who also serves as co-president of the team. “That’s one or our best traits because we never get down on ourselves.

“We like to make things exciting, I guess.”

Team came together when it mattered

The Rams weren’t expected to repeat as champions. They lost four of their top players from the 2010 team to graduation, and had a new leader in Pranger, a CSU graduate student with no coaching experience.

Early on, the team struggled. They were drubbed 15-5 by UC-Davis in an early tournament, and lost several other matches.

The young team, however, eventually came together and got on a roll at the right time. The key win at nationals was a 12-9 triumph in the quarterfinals over the same UC-Davis team that had dominated them earlier in the season.

“We knew that if we beat Cal-Davis we could win the tournament,” said Pranger, who led CSU to a 19-6 record in her first season. “Of course, we were down 6-1 to Cal-Davis in the first half before we got going. We were so motivated because we were the underdogs, and we knew we were not going to leave without a championship.”

Several Rams honored

Hayley Bernstein, a defender, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, while Maddie Garcia (four goals in the title game) was named most outstanding attacker and Annette Greenberg was named most outstanding goalie.

Looking for more in 2012?

The good news for the Rams is that they should be very good again next year. They have to replace Greenberg and Katie Davis, their senior goalies, but otherwise lose few players to graduation. Bernstein and Garcia return, as do most of the other starters, so a three-peat could be in the offing.

“Believe it or not, a lot of us have already been talking about that,” Goddard said, adding that the Rams all jumped into a hotel pool following the title match – while still in uniform. “And next year, nationals will be in Colorado Springs, where we can play these teams at our altitude.

“The best thing about this team is that I get to play with so many passionate players. Everyone is so committed and gets that fire in their belly when it comes time to play. It’s great being champions again.”