In a game that the Fighting Scots never trailed, The College of Wooster women's lacrosse team, seeded third in the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, defeated second-seeded Oberlin College 14-11 to advance to its first conference championship game since 2013.
Wooster (12-3) delivered a relentless effort from start to finish, totaling 23 shots on goal on 32 total attempts while forcing 11 turnovers and outpacing the Yeowomen (10-6), who defeated the Scots 19-7 in the regular season, 21-9 in the groundball department. Whatever it took, offensively or defensively, the Scots stepped up to the challenge to record their first victory as the third seed since 2011, and coincidentally setting up a rematch of the 2011 final with this year's top seed, Denison University, on Saturday, May 1.
With both sides scoreless through the opening eight minutes, Wooster struck first at the 21:29 mark. First-year Ashley Boersma rebounded from an earlier missed free-position opportunity with her first of three goals on the day as part of a career-high performance from the newcomer out of Ada, Mich.
Oberlin's Natalie Rauchle, who led the league in scoring with 83 goals in 2018, converted nearly four minutes later on a free-position shot to tie the game. After a caused turnover and groundball from junior Emma Lawrence on the ensuing draw, Wooster regained the lead off a free-position opportunity from junior Laura Papp to spark a 3-0 Scots' run.
Junior Megan Healy made it a 3-1 lead with 13:28 to go in the first half before Boersma doubled down with her second of the half off the assist from Healy nearly a minute later.
The Yeowomen would go on to post a 4-1 run to level things at five-all, but the Scots dug deep to pick up two key goals in the final 2:11 to take the halftime momentum. Papp came through on a man-up opportunity off the pass from senior Helena Enders to put the Scots ahead for good at 6-5 before first-year Caitlyn O'Connor netted her ninth goal of the season with :33 left, marking her sixth straight game with a tally, to put the Scots up by two at the midway point.
Despite being a man down early in the second half, Wooster ran out to a 4-0 run as part of an overall 6-0 streak reaching back to the end of the first. First-year Alexa Mellis, who leads Wooster in scoring with 34 goals, notched her first of the game on a man-down opportunity off the pass from Enders, who respectively leads the Scots in assists with 17.
Just over a minute later, Mellis turned into the provider as Healy punched in her third and final goal to give the Scots a 9-5 advantage with 27:25 remaining. Papp and Lawrence went on to convert free-position shots – a big theme in Wednesday's victory for the Scots, who ended with a 5-for-11 total compared to 3-for-9 for the home side.
Rauchle scored her game-high fourth goal with 9:46 remaining before Boersma capped off Wooster's scoring with her third of the game on a man-up opportunity with 4:40 left. The Yeowomen went on to score three times in the final 90 seconds, but all for naught as the Scots moved to 3-2 all-time versus Oberlin in the NCAC Tournament and to 9-5 all-time as the No. 3 seed.
As Wooster's midfield anchor, Emma Lawrence delivered quite the stat line with two goals on six shots, one assist, five groundballs, two draw controls, and four caused turnovers. Along with Boersma's season-high three goals, both Healy and Papp ended with a hat trick each while Healy recorded a team-high six draw controls.
In goal, first-year Katie Shideler made nine saves and gathered three groundballs.
Wooster enters Saturday's match 6-5 all-time in conference championship games, with the Scots' last win coming in 2010. Wooster is 5-8 all-time versus the Big Red in conference tournament action, with Denison most recently eliminating the Scots in the 2016 semifinals.
Saturday's final is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. at Granville, Ohio.