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The US Lacrosse Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) National Championship Tournament returns to Virginia for the first time since 2015, with games beginning Wednesday at the Princess Anne Athletic Complex and Sportsplex in Virginia Beach.
The WCLA is comprised of 230 college club (non-varsity) teams from coast-to-coast that compete under the US Lacrosse umbrella. From these, the most deserving Division I and Division II club teams qualify for the season-ending national championships, conducted annually since 2001 by US Lacrosse.
The 16-team Division I tournament begins on Wednesday, May 8, while the 12-team Division II tournament starts Thursday, May 9. The event concludes with championship games for both divisions on Saturday, May 11.
Fans are welcome to attend all games. Admission and parking are free.
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.
The University of Pittsburgh is the No. 1 seed in the Division I championship following an undefeated regular season, and brings a 15-0 record into Wednesday’s opening round game against No. 16 seed University of Washington. The Panthers are making their 13th overall and seventh straight appearance in the WCLA championship tournament.
“We try to remind our players that it’s now a new season,” said Pitt coach Kevin Tidgewell. “Being at nationals is a different thing from the regular season.”
This is the third straight year that the champion of the Women's Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) has earned the number one seed. Michigan won the title in 2018 as the tournament’s top seed, and Pitt finished as the national runner-up in 2017 as the top seed.
The Panthers return to friendly turf, having won their only title in 2014 at this same venue.
“That was a great time for us,” Tidgewell said. “It’s always nice for our program to have that connection with Virginia Beach.”
While Pitt may be the pre-tournament favorite, there’s no shortage of worthy title contenders in the Division I field. Last year’s national runner-up, No. 2 seed BYU, brings a 12-1 record to Virginia Beach. The only blemish for the Cougars came in a 5-3 loss to defending champion Michigan Club. After starting the season 2-2, the No. 5 seed Wolverines recorded 11 straight wins before losing to Pitt in the WCLL final.
All 16 Division I teams have participated in the championship tournament previously. The longest drought among the teams belongs to No. 8 seed Northeastern, which returns to the tournament field for the first time since 2013. The Huskies bring a strong resume to Virginia, however, sporting an 11-1 overall record after winning the New England Women's Lacrosse League title.
“We have a talented and well-connected group, which laid the groundwork for a successful and fun season,” said Northeastern team captain Michele Lucas.
Two local teams qualified for this year’s championship event. Virginia Tech Club (11-2) is the No. 10 seed and faces No. 7 Santa Clara (8-5) in Wednesday’s opening round. Virginia Club (7-3) is the No. 12 seed and is making its third straight and fifth overall tournament appearance. The Cavaliers finished third in last year’s championship.
“Our success from last year definitely provides an additional level of incentive for us this year,” said Virginia senior Megan Greatorex. “And having the tournament so close to home is very exciting. We’re very motivated.”
In the 12-team Division II bracket, Utah State earned the top seed for the first time and brings a 9-2 overall record into the tournament. The Aggies are making their fourth straight appearance in the championship and won the Rocky Mountain Women’s Lacrosse League title this season.
“We are proud to be making huge strides this year in meeting goals that we’ve never met before in program history,” said coach Krista Shepherd Call. ““We’re excited to be ranked number one going into the national tournament.”
Utah State jump started its successful 2019 campaign with a 3-0 showing at February’s Santa Barbara Shootout, which included wins over Denver Club and Air Force. The Aggies harnessed that momentum to hold onto the top spot in the national poll throughout the season.
“Our team has worked hard since last fall to implement a new attitude and push for a higher level of play,” Call said. “We are ready and focused on the games to come.”
Denver Club, national champion in 2016 & 2017 and runner-up last year, is the number two seed. St. Thomas, one of two undefeated D-II teams, received the number three seed, with defending champion Loyola Maryland seeded fourth.
Two teams are making their first-ever Division II tournament appearances: No. 10 seed Utah Valley and No. 11 seed Nevada Reno.
The Division I and Division II formats are slightly different due to the variance in the number of teams. The Division I format calls for a traditional single-elimination 16-team bracket to determine the champion. Following each team’s first loss, it moves into the consolation bracket to determine its final placement.
In Division II, the teams are arranged into four pods of three teams each. A round-robin within each pod determines the qualifier that advances into the semifinal round. Single-elimination is utilized in the semifinals and final.
WCLA Division I First Round Games – Wednesday, May 8
11 am – No. 1 Pittsburgh (15-0) vs. No. 16 Washington (7-4)
11 am – No. 8 Northeastern (11-1) vs. No. 9 Cal Poly (7-5)
11 am – No. 5 Michigan (13-3) vs. No. 12 Virginia (7-3)
11 am – No. 4 San Diego State (11-1) vs. No. 13 Boston College (9-4)
2 pm – No. 3 UCLA (9-3) vs. No. 14 Colorado (6-5)
2 pm – No. 6 Delaware (9-2) vs. No. 11 Georgia (12-6)
2 pm – No. 7 Santa Clara (8-5) vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech (11-2)
2 pm – No. 2 BYU (12-1) vs. No. 15 Texas (12-4)
WCLA Division II Pool Play Groupings – Thursday, May 9
Pool A – No. 1 Utah State (9-2), No. 8 New Hampshire (7-0), No.12 Portland St (9-2)
Pool B – No. 2 Denver (8-3), No. 7 Grand Valley St (12-2), No. 11 Nevada Reno (11-1)
Pool C – No. 3 St. Thomas (12-0), No. 6 Navy (6-3), No. 10 Utah Valley (7-5)
Pool D – No. 4 Loyola (10-1), No. 5 Air Force (7-3), No. 9 Oakland (11-3)
Complete coverage of the championships – including blogs, stories, scores, updated game schedules, brackets and photo galleries - will be available throughout the event on uslacrosse.org/wcla2019 and on USLaxMagazine.com.
Be a Scorekeeper
Looking for a front-row seat for this year’s WCLA Championships? US Lacrosse needs a few local volunteers (ages 16 and older) in Virginia Beach to serve as scorer’s table assistants. Basic duties will be tracking game scores and recording goals.