There’s a lot of strong championship pedigree among the four remaining Division I teams in the 2019 WCLA (Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates) Championship Tournament. They have combined to win four of the last five national titles, while adding two other runner-up finishes.

There are no Johnny-come-latelies in this group.

Back-to-back dominating performances by top-seeded Pittsburgh over the first two days of the 2019 tournament has provided ample evidence as to why the Panthers have held the number one ranking since the start of the season.  It’s been impressive.

Pitt made short work of its opponent for the second straight day, utilizing its deep line-up and depth for an 18-5 quarterfinal win over No. 9 seed Cal Poly. Eleven different players scored for the Panthers, who raced out to an early 7-1 lead and never looked back. 

Pitt has outscored its first two opponents by a combined 44-9 count to reach the Division I semifinals for the second time in three years. Thursday’s game marked the 14th time this year that the Panthers have scored 15 goals or more in a game.

“We’re well balanced, everybody plays, and everybody is a threat,” said first-year head coach Kevin Tidgewell. “We play unselfish lacrosse.”

Three first half goals by freshman Payton Reed sparked the early run, while three second half goals by junior Elizabeth Maisch continued the domination after halftime. Pitt is the nation’s last undefeated team, carrying a 17-0 record into Friday’s semifinal match against WCLL rival Michigan, the defending champion.

“We want to play the best teams. Our girls are ready to go,” Tidgewell said. 

No. 5 seed Michigan Club had to work harder than Pitt to secure its spot in the final four, breaking away late for a 10-8 win over No. 13 Boston College Club. Tied at 7-7, Michigan outscored BC 3-1 over the final 21 minutes to move one step closer to successfully defending its title. Goals by Emily Roth, Kennedy Mulvaney and Ana Beyer proved to be the difference.

“It wasn’t our best game, but we still had trust that we would pull it out,” said Michigan defender Amanda Riesmeyer, named as the D-I national player of the year on Wednesday. 

Michigan, now 15-3 overall, earns another shot at Pitt after losing 14-6 to the Panthers in the league final last month.

“We have a huge rivalry with Pitt and it’s always a pretty physical game,” Riesmeyer said.

Friday’s second semifinal features No. 2 BYU, last year’s championship runner-up, against No. 6 Delaware, the 2017 national champion. Both teams advanced with narrow victories Thursday.

BYU edged upstart Virginia Tech Club, the number 10 seed, 8-7, with goalie Jessica Christensen making a game-saving stop in the closing seconds. Two first half goals by All-American Heather Haight and Haley Harris helped give the Cougars a narrow one goal cushion at halftime. 

The score was tied twice in the second half before Haight tallied her third of the game and the eventual game-winner with 20:28 remaining.

BYU, 14-1 overall, has been pointing to a return to the final four since finishing second in 2018.

“All of our preparation this season has been on getting back. It’s been in the front of our minds,” said BYU coach Nikki Dabrowski.

Delaware used four goals each from seniors Sarah Tappan and Alexa Woodruff to move past No. 3 seed UCLA, 15-13. The Blue Hens built a 9-6 halftime lead and held off a second half push by the Bruins, who pulled to within one goal twice. Tappan, a key performer on Delaware’s 2017 run to the title, scored the final four goals for the Hens.

“We never think about the rankings or the seedings, and we never really get too nervous,” said Woodruff. “We know that anything can happen in every game. For us, it’s all about having fun and playing together.”

Both the D-I and D-II national semifinal and championship games on Friday and Saturday will be available for viewing via free streaming on www.laxsportsnetwork.com

Harrow Sports serves as the official event partner for the 2019 US Lacrosse WCLA National Championships, while US Lacrosse’s national partners, Motive Pure, Pearl by Guardian, Nationwide, Impact Canopy, Krossover, SISU and Sports Performance Tracking provide additional event support.

WCLA Division I Semifinal Games - Friday, May 10
10 am - No. 1 Pittsburgh (17-0) vs. No. 5 Michigan (15-3)
 1 pm -  No. 2 BYU (14-1) vs. No. 6 Delaware (11-2)