By Shawn Minnix
ROCHESTER, MI- The fourth ranked, Oakland University Women’s Lacrosse team returned home from the 2015 Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Championships on May 6-9th with a well-earned third place finish. Oakland competed among 12 of the top Division II club teams in the country. This was the team’s fifth consecutive appearance at the national championships and their highest finish in the history of the program.
This was the first year that Oakland won its first game at Nationals, beating fifth-ranked Air Force, 19-10. In their second game, the Lady Grizzlies beat ninth-seeded California State San Marcos, 18-8, to win their pool and earned a spot in the national semifinals, a level OU had never achieved before.
In the semifinals, Oakland faced the #1 ranked, undefeated Duke Blue Devils. Duke rushed out to a 4-0 lead before the Lady Grizzlies battled their way back to take a 6-5 lead. At the halfway point, Duke lead 7-6 and realized they were in their toughest game of their season. The second half remained close until an OU penalty gave Duke the edge they needed to pull away and eventually won 15-11 in a very exciting game.
Although the team lost to the top-ranked and eventual national champions, Oakland accomplished things that no other team had done all year against the east coast powerhouse. No other team had scored more than seven goals and no other team had kept the score difference within five goals.
In their final game, Oakland defeated #6 Loyola (MD), 12-11, to take home third place, and got revenge for a loss earlier in the year.
Three Oakland ladies received all-tournament honors. Nina Grubba, Andie Almassy, and Lindsay Barrett were selected as all-tournament players. Barrett was also honored as the MVP of the National Championships. Barrett set a record at the tournament scoring 12 goals in the team’s win against San Marcos.
Head coach Towbey Kassa said that his team kept a level head at all times and was proud of the way the ladies did not look ahead to other teams and games.
“One game at a time, one minute at a time is what I told them,” Kassa said. “All we have to do is win by one.”
Looking back on the season, Kassa said that there were a couple of impactful losses that altered the mood of the squad, and helped give the team a never-say-die attitude.
“The Minnix Jug game against Michigan State and the conference championship game against Dayton changed the character of the team,” Kassa said. “Those losses made us come together. The way we played at the tournament was remarkable. It’s special.”
Oakland finished the season with a record of 18-8 and won its ninth consecutive divisional title. The Golden Grizzlies lost to both the D-I (Michigan) and the D-II National Champions.
Kassa said that he was extremely happy on how the season turned out and especially proud on how the ladies handled themselves on and off the field
“For me, I am forever indebted to them,” Kassa said. “Their hard work, effort and determination have continued to build a strong foundation for our program.”
When asked about how Oakland might fare if the university moved the program up to NCAA D-I status, Kassa wasted no time in saying that in due time the Golden Grizzlies would excel in the sport of lacrosse.
“Oakland athletics and campus rec has been very supportive of the lacrosse program,” Kassa said. “With other Horizon League teams adding lacrosse to their programs, I think it would be extremely beneficial in the long run to our university.”
|President||George W. Hynd|
Final score Oakland 11 Duke 15. Oakland will face Loyola tomorrow at 10:30am