BU hosts NCAA women’s lacrosse championship
Record crowd watches Northwestern beat Dartmouth
Knocked out of the first round of the NCAA Division I championship tournament by Dartmouth two weeks ago, Boston University’s women’s lacrosse team nonetheless had the honor of hosting the tournament’s semifinal and final games. In front of a crowd of 5,684 fans, a record for a NCAA women’s lacrosse championship, Northwestern successfully defended its crown with a 7-4 victory over Dartmouth in the national title game on Sunday, May 28, at Nickerson Field.
“Hosting the finals was a really wonderful opportunity for us,” says Liza Kelly, coach of the BU women’s lacrosse team. “It was such a great crowd, and the event brought a lot of people to campus who might otherwise not have come. It was good to see so much support for the sport.”
Kelly says lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and she attributes its newfound popularity to the wide range of skills that the sport encompasses. “Lacrosse brings together elements of basketball, hockey, and soccer,” she says. “It’s also very fast-paced and high-scoring. There’s a lot of excitement in the game.”
Traditionally, says Kelly, the strongholds for women’s lacrosse have been Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. “It was good to see some teams in the finals from other nontraditional areas,” says the BU coach. “North Carolina was represented by Duke, Indiana by Notre Dame, and New Hampshire by Dartmouth. While it was hard to watch other teams playing on our home turf, our team did some really good things this season. We’ll have room to improve next year.”
This year’s championship saw some surprises. For the first time ever in NCAA play, Dartmouth beat Princeton, 7-6, to make it into the semifinals against Notre Dame. Dartmouth then smothered Notre Dame with a stifling defense, which kept the normally high-scoring Notre Dame to eight points, for a 14-8 victory. Northwestern upset top-seeded Duke, with an 11-10 overtime win, leaving the team poised for its second consecutive NCAA Division I championship.
In the final game, fourth-seeded Northwestern fought a tight battle against seventh-seeded Dartmouth. Although the score was low, the suspense was high, as the game featured four ties and three lead changes. Northwestern came from behind in the second half, scoring four unanswered goals to win the game and become just the third team to earn back-to-back titles in the 25-year history of the tournament.
Boston University also hosted the 25th anniversary celebration of the Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship, held on May 25 at Agganis Arena. The evening’s celebration commemorated the history of the championship and showcased former and current collegiate women’s lacrosse student-athletes, coaches, and key moments.