Sixth-Seeded Benedictine Wins NAIA Title Over Top-Seeded Lawrence Tech

PHOTO COURTESY OF NAIA


SOUTHFIELD, Mich. —Natalie Wechter of Benedictine (Kan.) connected with Clare Ryan at 4:08 remaining in the fourth quarter for the difference maker as sixth-seeded Benedictine (Kan.) defeated top-seeded Lawrence Tech (Mich.) 9-8 to captured the NAIA Women’s Lacrosse Championship Saturday night. 

The Ravens close out the season with a 16-1 record, while the Blue Devils finish the season 17-1. 

Gianna Stalletti made 14 saves in the win for Benedictine, while Erica Odell netted a game-high four goals and six caused turnovers. Natalie Wechter dished out four assists, as Margaux Gelbach scooped four draw controls and added a pair of goals. Aidan McEnerney chipped in four ground balls. 

Abby Barnewold led the way for Lawrence Tech with three caused turnovers, four ground balls and three draw controls, while Sydney Robinson chipped in five points. Hannah Huebner and Gabi Mitchell each added a pair of goals in the game. Anabella Acluche finished with five saves and five ground balls. 

Benedictine jumped out to an early lead, as Gianna Stalletti made a pair of saves in the opening minutes, while Clare Ryan found Erica Odell cutting for a goal to make it 1-0 with 12:13 left in the opening quarter. The teams trades possession throughout the majority of the first period until the 4:03 mark, when Abbey Smentowski took a free position and found Gabi Mitchell for a goal as Lawrence Tech evened the score at 1-1. The Ravens’ Erica Odell won the next draw control and on the ensuing possession, Grace Simonson netted a goal to put Benedictine back in front 2-1 eighteen seconds later.







The Blue Devils netted consecutive goals to take their first lead of the at 3-2, but the Ravens answered with a goal in the closing seconds of the quarter to even the score at 3. 

Lawrence Tech’s Anabella Acluche made a pair of saves in the opening four minutes of the second quarter to keep the score tied. The Blue Devils retook the lead, as Bella Burke scooped the ground ball off a save and put it into the back of the cage making it 4-3 with 11:01 left. The Ravens’ Margo Gelbach converted a free position at the 9:46 mark to even the score at 4, the same score at halftime.

The Blue Devils won the draw control to start the third quarter, and on that possession, Hannah Huebner bounced a shot into the cage to put Lawrence Tech in front 5-4 just over a minute in.  Benedictine responded, netting four of the next five goals, including three from Erica Odell, to put the Ravens in front 8-6 heading into the four quarter.  

Lawrence Tech came out strong in the fourth quarter with back-to-back goals, including one from Abby Barnwold at the 8:44 mark to tie the score at 8. Minutes later, Stalletti stopped a free position shot, and on the ensuing transition, Wechter pushed the ball up to Ryan for a player-down goal to put Benedictine in front 9-8 with 4:08 remaining.

The Blue Devils looked for the equalizer down the stretch, but the Ravens forced three turnovers and ran out the clock to capture their first women’s lacrosse championship. 

Tournament MVP: Erica Odell, Benedictine (Kan.)

NAIA ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM

Erica Odell, M, Tournament MVP – Benedictine (Kan.) 
Aidan McEnerney, A – Benedictine (Kan.) 
Abbey Smentowski, A – Lawrence Tech (Mich.) 
Clare Ryan, A – Benedictine (Kan.) 
Melanie Brown, A – Keiser (Fla.) 
Morgan McGhee, M – Reinhardt (Ga.)
Natalie Wechter, M – Benedictine (Kan.) 
Bella Burke, M – Lawrence Tech (Mich.) 
Jaisanna Jarvis, D – Lawrence Tech (Mich.) 
Angela Schacchiatano, D – Reinhardt (Ga.) 
Grace Gibson, D – SCAD (Ga.) 
Margeaux Gelbach, D – Benedictine (Kan.) 
Annabella Acluche, G – Lawrence Tech (Mich.) 

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