In its inaugural season last year, the Augustana College women's lacrosse team garnered plenty of attention — as much for some eye-popping individual statistics as the team's success.|
This season, though, coach Sara Tisdale's club has shown so much more, and that resulted in the Vikings snaring the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference championship. That earned them the right to host this weekend's MWLC Tournament, which starts today at Thorson-Lucken Field.
At stake is the league's automatic bid into the 32-team NCAA Div. III National Championships. Tisdale said she believes her club, despite a 14-3 overall mark that included an 8-0 sweep of the MWLC, needs a title this weekend to keep its season going.
It has been quite a spring for the Vikings. According to Tisdale, they have been much better than last year. They have shown plenty of growth from last season's team that went 15-3 and led the country in scoring, with then-freshman Hillary Kargl being among the top five nationally in goals.
This year's team has been just as successful but has done it in a different way. Instead of relying on Kargl, a more balanced and deeper team has proven to be tough to beat.
"I think we're really balanced across the board, especially on the offensive end," Tisdale said. "We have different girls step up every single game, and that makes us hard to stop. Our defense is extremely hard-working. Couple that with an offense that puts up (16.9) goals per game and that makes us a pretty solid team across the board."
That balance showed as the Vikings had six players earn All-MWLC honors — four attackers and two defenders. All six were either freshmen or sophomores, with three each named to the first and second teams. Those honored were first-teamers Christina Letmanski (sophomore), Kendall Maduro (freshman) and Emily Pavlik (sophomore) along with second-teamers Emily Handrahan (freshman), Anna Kyllo (sophomore) and Kylee Nolan (freshman).
Maduro was honored as the league's Newcomer of the Year.
Letmanski leads the Vikings with 44 goals (2.59 per game) and points per game (4.29) with 29 assists.
Augie also had the league's top three in assists in Letmanski, Kargl (26/1.53 per game to go with 33 goals) and Handrahan (25/1.47). Nolan is third in the all-important draw controls, averaging 4.47 per game.
"We have really come together well as a team," Tisdale said. "We were really able to overcome our age and lack of experience with a lot of hard work. I have never coached a team with as much heart as these young ladies."
They get to show it again this weekend at home with a lot on the line. In the regular season, Augie handled Concordia 23-4 but had much more difficulty when it beat Carthage (10-9) and North Central (9-8) by one goal.
"I'm confident in my team's ability," Tisdale said of the tourney run. "What you look for at the end of the season is for your team to play its best lacrosse, and I definitely think that's where we're at right now. I like our chances moving forward and getting that automatic qualifying bid to the national tournament."
What: Augustana hosts the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference Tournament today and Saturday at Thorson-Lucken Field.
Schedule: Today's semifinals: No. 3 Carthage (11-6, 6-2) vs. No. 2 North Central (11-4, 7-1), 3 p.m.; No. 4 Concordia (7-7, 5-3) vs. No. 1 Augustana (14-3, 8-0); championship 7 p.m. Saturday.
Admission: Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens (ages 60 and older) and children (ages 5-18). Students from competing schools are free with school identification.
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