Pittsburgh was not to be denied in its quest for the 2019 WCLA D-I National Championship, although both Delaware and Mother Nature put up a valiant effort.

At the end of the day, the Panthers overcame both opponents, just like the 18 prior ones they faced this season, and posted a 15-11 victory over the Blue Hens to secure the program’s second national championship. 

Pittsburgh finished 19-0, becoming the second straight member of the WWLL to cap an undefeated season with the WCLA title. Michigan accomplished the same feat last year.

“Something just felt good and right and special about this team right from the beginning,” said senior goalie Katie Honebrink, who finished with nine saves and was named the tournament’s most outstanding goalie.

A tightly contested first half featured five ties and was knotted 6-6 at halftime. Attacker Caitlin Smith scored four times to lead Delaware, while Pitt’s Allison Macrae tallied three goals for the Panthers.

Pitt started the second half on a 3-1 run, which included Macrae’s fourth tally of the game. Attacker Bethany Dubick had just scored her second goal for Pitt at 17:26 when play was suspended due to severe weather. 

Pitt’s two-goal lead at the time of suspension was the largest lead either team had enjoyed to that point. Play finally resumed following a delay of just over two hours, during which time the players entertained themselves in the locker room.

“We just tried to keep each other hyped during that time,” said Macrae, “by playing music and doing some dancing.”

“It was a dance party in there,” said Pitt coach Kevin Tidgewell. 

Despite the hyping, it was Delaware that came storming back following the break, scoring twice in a span of 29 seconds to knot the score at 9-9 with 14:03 left. It was the seventh tie of the game, but it would also be the last.

Four straight goals by Pitt followed, capped by back-to-back markers by senior co-captain Hannah Kendrick, who finished with two goals and two assists. Delaware responded once again with two goals to pull to within two at 13-11, but the Hens would get no closer.

Macrae closed the scoring with her fifth and sixth goals of the game in the final three minutes, and the Panther dancing soon resumed.

“This is such a huge team win because we always play as one,” said Macrae, named the tournament’s most outstanding attacker. “We all push each other, but there’s never any negativity. We just wanted to finish it today.”

Caitlin Smith led Delaware with five goals, with midfielder Jullian Leonard adding three. Delaware finished with a 12-3 final record, with two of its losses coming against Pitt. 

The fact that the Blue Hens had defeated Pitt in the 2017 final still lingered with some of the Panthers’ upperclassmen.

“That was one of the worst days of my life, but today is one of the best days of my life,” said Kendrick. “We have ten seniors, and this is an amazing way to finish.”