How Lindenwood Created a National Champion in St. Charles, Mo.


Midfielder Lexy Biller earned MVP honors with four goals and eight draw controls.

Lindenwood made history with its 14-12 victory over Queens (N.C.) in the NCAA Division II women’s lacrosse championship game May 23 in Salem, Va., becoming the first team from outside the Eastern Time Zone to capture the title in the division’s 20-year history.

Playing a significant role in LU's historic achievement was midfielder Lexy Biller, who earned MVP honors with four goals and eight draw controls — quite an accomplishment for a player whose career was at a crossroads just 18 months earlier.

In November 2019, after months of uncertainty, Biller entered the NCAA’s transfer portal.

She had sat out the previous spring at Oregon, just one year after arriving there from Louisville and enjoying an impactful 2018 campaign for the Ducks. Biller set the single-season record with 114 draw controls in 2018, along with 11 goals and four asssits. But Katrina Dowd resigned after the season and Oregon brought on a new coach in Chelsea Hofmann. 

Within hours of entering the portal, the call came from Lindenwood’s Jack Cribbin. 

“I didn’t even know there was a school in Missouri that played lacrosse, but we spoke for quite a while,” said Biller, a native of Ashburn, Va. That initial conversation also manifested the "it's a small-world' phenomenon, as Biller came to realize that her brother, Kevin, was best friends with LU’s athletic performance coach Collin Kohlasch.

Six days later, Biller visited the campus. Soon afterward, she committed. Little did she know that she was joining the transfer hub of Division II women's lacrosse.

Many players follow the transfer path to Lindenwood, located in St. Charles, Missouri. It's been a key strategy used by Cribbin in restocking the roster each year. Once the new players arrive, they join a roster mosaic that this season represented 13 different states and three Canadian provinces.

“We work hard on recruiting. It’s our lifeblood, so I’m on the phone daily,” Cribbin said. “Even though we might have more transfers than just about anybody, we are still very particular. We do our due diligence because we want kids who will fit within our culture."

Many of the key contributors to the 2021 Lions were players who started elsewhere. Attacker Erin McGuire joined in 2020 after three seasons at Jacksonville. Defender Hailey Dobbins came from Edinboro after starting at Syracuse. Midfielder Emma Arnold is from Ohio State. Goalie Eleanor Kast transferred from Stony Brook.

“They’re just looking for a fresh start,” said Cribbin, who played goalie for the Lindenwood men’s lacrosse team. “I was a transfer myself, so I know what that feels like.”

Cribbin was 22 when he took over the women’s team in 2005. The Lions were elevated from club to varsity status in 2012, and Cribbin has since cast a wide net in his search for players.

Some, like Biller, arrive after collegiate stops elsewhere. Others, like fifth-year senior Carly Fedorowski, arrive as freshmen from destinations like Minnesota, Idaho, and California.

“We think differently here,” said Cribbin, who ranks second among active Division II coaches with a career winning percentage of .885. “We’re always looking for players in places others may not be looking.”

Regardless of how they arrive, all the players must buy in to the program’s philosophy built around five core values: passion, unity, servanthood, humility, and thankfulness. Each practice starts with a brief discussion about one of these pillars, along with the joke of the day.

“His ability to bring in the right players is incredible,” Biller said. “We all take the culture very seriously and hold each other accountable. Winning the championship was re-assurance to all of us that it’s working.”

This article appears in the Championship Edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine. Join our momentum.

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