March 25th at 11:00am against WVU
The 2015 Spring lacrosse season has certainly been “1 for the history books” in the State of Louisiana. We have seen tremendous growth at the youth, high school, & college levels; with 2 of the most successful seasons at LSU for both the men’s & women’s programs. On April 18, the Lady Tigers Lacrosse Program put an exclamation mark on the season by capturing the 2015 Texas Women’s Lacrosse League Division II Conference Championship. By far the greatest on field achievement for any college lacrosse program in Louisiana’s +35 year lacrosse history. Adding a cherry on top, Junior Center-Midfielder Alaena Gadwill (Owings, MD) earned the Tournament MVP Award for her stellar performance of draw controls in addition to her goals & assists throughout both games. She is the 1st LSU Lady Tiger lacrosse player to each such an award in just the 3rd year of the program’s terrific Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (WCLA) history.
Here is a quick recap of the LSU Women’s Lacrosse Club brief history:
Club formed in the 2011-2012 academic year. Competed as an Independent for the 2012 spring season. Went 3-4-2 on the season.
Joined the WCLA in 2013 to compete within the TWLL conference. Went 7-4 in the regular season.
Qualified for the 2013 TWLL Conference Tournament. Defeated Baylor 22-12 in just their 1st ever post season appearance.
Moved into the newly formed Division II within the TWLL for the 2014 season. Went 6-3 in the regular season.
Qualified for the 2014 TWLL Conference Tournament. Declined bid due to scheduling conflict with Easter Weekend/Spring Break. SMU went on to win 1st Division II Title.
Qualified for the 2015 TWLL Conference Tournament. Went 4-1 in the regular season.
Won the 2015 TWLL Division II Conference Championship. Earned AQ to WCLA Division II Nationals. Declined bid due to schedule conflict with LSU Final Exams.
Junior Alaena Gadwill earns 2015 TWLL Division II Tournament MVP.
TWLL Division II Tournament Games Recap:
Foul weather all week throughout central Texas as well as south Louisiana caused havoc on teams preparing for the conference tournament as fields were closed or difficult to prepare on. Additionally, the tournament game schedule was altered nearly every day leading up to Championship Saturday with the threat of severe weather potentially causing delays. In the end, the games were moved up by 1 hour leaving #2 seed LSU to face off with #3 seed TCU at 8am with Division I #2 seed Texas A&M taking on #3 Baylor immediately after. The 2nd semifinal in Division II between #1 seed & defending champion SMU & #4 Texas State followed. Division I #1 seed & defending champion Texas held a semifinal by as #4 seed Arkansas declined their bid to the tournament. The Lady Tigers managed to organize practices inside throughout the week leading up to the tournament which unquestionably led to the winning performance on game day.
As the morning rain cloud hovered over the Caven Lacrosse & Sports Complex at Clark Field on the campus of the University of Texas-Austin, the Lady Tigers & Horned Frogs took the field in a misty haze. Gadwill got things started in the right direction for LSU winning the opening draw. Junior Reese Gassie (Leonardtown, MD) earned the 1st 8m free position shot of the game & found the back of the net. TCU countered on the next draw to even the score. After winning the ensuing draw, the Lady Tigers offense work the ball around the perimeter until Freshman Sydney Mulroy (Ellicott City, MD) earned an 8m of her own & fooled TCU’s goalie to put the Tigers back in the lead 2-1. LSU would hold the lead for the duration of the contest. At the 22 minute mark Gassie fed Sophomore Erin Esh (Allen, TX) for an adjacent feed, shot, & score. Junior Taylor Reeves (Boston, MA) got in on the action with a powerful 8m free position shot. TCU countered for a score with 18 minutes to play bringing the game to 4-2. Gadwill notched 1 of her 13 draw controls on the game in the next set up leading to a strong possession by the Lady Tigers. Gadwill then found a cutting Gassie in the arc who buried the biscuit in the basket with a strong right handed fake & finish. The next time down the field Reeves earned another 8m FP finding the twine then performing her own version of a make it-take it effort putting the purple & gold up by 7-2. Gassie then returned the assist favor to Gadwill who cut by the TCU defense for a high passing feed & finish to the cage. Possessing the ball again off of the draw, the offense got the ball back in Gassie’s stick for yet another 8m in which she plucked the upper 90 corner. TCU rebounded after a save on the next shot by the Lady Tigers working in their 3rd goal of the game, 9-3 at this point. Freshman Maria Chavez (Colorado Springs, CO) capitalized on a crease roll that she has been perfecting all season long in practice & in games after rolling the right side of the crease, bringing TCU’s goalie all the way out of position, allowing Chavez to find a wide open far right side of the cage. Reeves added an assist to her day by finding Gadwill at the top of the arc who struck her favorite upper 90 corner. On the final possession of the half Gassie took control of the rock, dodged hard from the top of the arc by 2 TCU defenders & absolutely launched a rocket shot leaving LSU up 12-3 going into the break.
The Lady Tigers coaching staff attempted to calm the excited nerves of the team during the intermission, warning to remember how tight the last game against TCU was just weeks before. Coach Lauren Davenport stressed “we have to go out with the mentality that the score is 0-0 here in the 2nd half”. Team leaders stepped up in the huddle to add in their perspectives to keep the team fired up & focused. However, the message did not translate to the field as the Horned Frogs rattled off 6 goals in the 1st 17 minutes of the 2nd frame. The Lady Tigers continued to win man of the draws however they just could not convert possessions into goals until Reeves collected a feed from Gassie to slow down the TCU attack bringing the score to 13-9. Mulroy found herself with another 8m free position to add to the lead. The Frogs then rattled off another attacking effort with 4 goals in a row bringing them within 1 of the Lady Tigers for the 2nd time in the game. With 2 minutes left in the game Reeves dodged through TCU traffic to find the back of the net putting the LSU up 15-13. Both teams traded quick possessions off of the final draw leading to the Lady Tigers finding themselves with the ball & ran the clock out for the victory. Junior Kaci Rogers (Winnfield, LA) would end the game with 12 saves on 22 shots on goals for 55% between the pipes. “We simply got too comfortable in the 2nd half, resting on our heels with the lead. I think subconsciously we attempted to save our legs for the next game. But, you can’t do that in a tournament setting as a comeback like the one TCU almost pulled off is very possible” stated Coach McDonald after the win.
Texas A&M took the field against Baylor in the next game on the turf for the Division 1 semifinal matchup of the day. Both teams played very closely in the 1st half going into the intermission at 7-6 in favor of the Aggies. The 2nd half found A&M settling into their rhythm as they won the game 17-7 for the right to take on Texas in the Division 1 Championship. The 2nd Division II semifinal between SMU & Texas State took the field with clearing skies. The Mustangs arrived to town with just 11 players for the tournament. The Bobcats played very tight all game long despite having the larger roster. SMU went into the break up 5-3 with the 2nd half showing each team essentially trading goals. With 24.7 seconds to play in the game Texas State tied the score up 9-9. The Mustangs won the next draw & streaked straight through the Bobcat defense to take the 1 goal lead with 12 seconds to go. The final draw of the contest went down to a scrum & the clock ran out. The rematch the Lady Tigers had been waiting for since the 2013 tournament was set, this time for the Division II Championship.
LSU got out to the start they wanted with Gadwill continuing to take control of the draw circle then slicing by the SMU ride straight to the cage for a punishing 1st goal. The Mustangs countered with 3 goals of their own as they showcased their skills in ball handling & team play off of Tiger turnovers. Continued strong draw control play led to a 4 goal streak as Reeves started things with a commanding shot. Gassie found the upper 90 to tie the game at 3-3. Reeves got into sharing the ball with Gadwill to give LSU the lead. Reeves dodged 2 defenders on the ensuing possession to put the Tigers up 5-3. SMU kept things close by answering with their 4th of the half. Gassie buried the next shot for LSU then Gadwill showcased her draw control, attack, & scoring triple threat to set LSU ahead 7-5 with 7 minutes left in the frame. After the Mustangs responded Gadwill put some more money in the back. Chavez got in on the action with a thrilling behind the back goal. Esh then executed a textbook inside roll notching the Tigers up 10-6. Reeves earned an 8m free position for the final score for LSU in the half. The Mustangs fought to put 1 more in going into the intermission down 11-7. “At this point, we had to make sure we calmed some nerves. We knew we had our 1st lead over SMU in our young history & we did not want to let that go” commented McDonald. “Even with the Mustangs playing man down in the semifinal & then the Championship game back to back, we had to be mindful of the situation & their skill sets. They could’ve easily taken back the lead & ultimately the trophy if we did not play a strong 2nd half as a team with a plan”.
A strong plan was certainly accomplished out of the break as Gassie & Mulroy buried impressive 8m shots off of 2 quick draw controls & offensive possessions for the Tiger offense. Gadwill ran her triple threat once against followed by Gassie for LSU’s largest lead of the game at 15-7. SMU put 1 in with 12:40 in the game. Tiger Senior Tameka Gongs subbed in at attack from her steady roll at defense on the season. Esh fed Gongs on a great cut from the left side of the crease in which she caught the ball, turned a 360 to avoid the SMU defense before finding the back of the net for her 1st score of her lacrosse career. The Mustangs continued their fight netting another goal with 4:33 to play, trailed by another on the following possession. Both teams traded ball control after the next draw until SMU scored 1 more with 17 seconds to go. With the final draw of the game, LSU ran the clock out to win their 1st ever Division II Conference Championship.
Coach Amy Jones boasted “I cannot be more proud of the girls. Everyone gave their heart all season! With all of the hard work & hustle they put in this season, it is very rewarding to have the season turnout the way it did”. As goalie coach her thoughts on Rogers in cage were “I’m super proud of her. She came up with some major saves when we needed them”. Coach Lauren Davenport added “It is an amazing feeling to watch the players run onto the field in celebration of such a victory. It was wonderful for the ladies to recognize how much the conditioning skills the fine-tuned field practices paid off. We were able to utilize those very skills to come out on top”.
Along with the Conference Championship, the Lady Tigers earned the conference automatic qualifier bid to the WCLA Division II National Tournament. Unfortunately, the tournament takes place the same week as finals for LSU & the team made the decision to keep their academics as a priority ahead of lacrosse. Therefore the 2015 season ends for LSU with an overall record of 6-1 & a LaxPower.com Power Ranking of 12th (as of April 27, 2015). The program will say goodbye to 2 players at the team banquet: Senior Tameka Gongs who will be graduating & heading to Washington D.C. to begin her professional life. Senior Steph Wilderspin will be heading back to England as her study time in the States is coming to an end. Junior Alaena Gadwill will be graduating in December & be traveling abroad along with taking an internship. She will take with her the 2015 TWLL Division II Conference Tournament MVP Award for her performance in both games, the highest individual award ever received by an LSU Lady Tiger lacrosse player. Her 7 goals, 1 assist, & 27 draw controls were simply dominant & put her ahead of the pack in consideration for the award.
Be sure to stay tuned to all of the LSU Women’s Lacrosse news, updates, & information throughout the summer as the Lady Tigers prepare for the Fall Ball season then the Spring 2016 season in which they will defend their conference title: