(Salt Lake City, Utah) -- A dominating second half performance carried Delaware Club to its first national championship with a come-from-behind victory over No. 1 seed Pittsburgh in the US Lacrosse WCLA Division I Championship Tournament in Salt Lake City. 

No. 7 seed Delaware upset the favored Panthers, 13-11, on Saturday, two days after delivering a similar blow to No. 2 seed Santa Clara. The Blue Hens had registered just one victory in five previous national tournament appearances, but claimed four wins in four days to win the 2017 title.

“This feels amazing,” said senior Olivia Gannon, who tallied three goals and an assist and was named the D-I tournament’s most outstanding attacker. “We’ve wanted this and worked for it since being at the nationals last year.”

Trailing by two goals at halftime, Delaware faced its biggest deficit of the game when Pittsburgh scored less than 90 seconds into the second half to extend its lead to 8-5. But that’s when the tide turned.

Delaware’s defense, led by junior Olivia Townsend and anchored in the second half by senior goalie Caroline Keller (5 saves), held Pitt scoreless for 18 minutes as the offense began to chip away at the lead.

“We stress communication and being focused on the second slide,” said Townsend, selected as the tournament’s most outstanding defender. “We play so well when we’re having fun.”

Two goals by freshman Jillian Leonard less than a minute apart sparked a 5-0 run that moved Delaware in front, 10-8. When Pitt ended its long scoring drought with Allison Hawkins’ goal at 10:43 and cut the lead to one, Delaware quickly answered with another three-goal run in a span of four minutes. 

By the time Leonard scored her third of the day, this time on a free-position at 4:56, Delaware had pushed its lead to four goals at 13-9 and was beginning to anticipate a celebration. All told, the Blue Hens outscored Pitt 8-1 during a pivotal 21-minute stretch of the second half.

“We started to realize that the dream of winning was realistic,” said sophomore Sarah Tappan, who finished with a team-high four goals for Delaware. 

Two late goals provided some hope for the Panthers, but two free-position saves by UD’s Keller in the closing minutes prevented Pitt from completing its own comeback bid. The afternoon belonged to the self-coaching upstarts from the First State who closed the year with six straight wins and a final 13-2 record.

“We definitely have great chemistry on this team, on and off the field,” Gannon said. “We know what to look for when we’re on the field and we hold each other accountable.”

Pittsburgh had its 11-game winning streak snapped and finished the year with a 17-2 final record.

Complete game results from the US Lacrosse WCLA Championship Tournament, include a full listing of the all-tournament team, can be accessed at uslacrosse.org/wcla2017.