ARNOLD, MD - The Monroe Community College women's lacrosse team attained perfection for the second consecutive season, as the Tribunes defeated Onondaga Community College 11-8 in the NJCAA national championship game Sunday afternoon.
The win capped a 17-0 campaign for Monroe, which also went undefeated in capturing the title a year ago. The Tribunes have now won 35 consecutive games.
In addition, MCC has claimed four the past five NJCAA titles.
Sunday's contest was a game of runs, with the teams taking turns gaining momentum. But it was a 6-0 Monroe spurt that spanned the two halves that helped give the Tribunes the advantage.
The run started with 5:14 remaining in the first half, as Michelle Schwartz took a feed from Molly Gray and scored to tie the game at four. That goal had come on the heels of a 3-0 OCC run that gave the Lazers a 4-3 lead.
It looked like the game would remain deadlocked into the intermission, but the Tribunes struck late to carry momentum into the break. Caity Hamilton gained possession behind the Onondaga goal and fired a perfect pass to Gray in front. Gray's ensuing shot was true with 12 seconds left, and Monroe went into the half leading 5-4.
Monroe wasted little time getting things rolling in the second half. Michaela Ciciarelli went top shelf just over a minute in to make it 6-4. Schwartz scored less than two minutes later.
Melanie Murphy then added a pair of free position goals to give the Tribunes a 9-4 lead.
The Lazers weren't finished, though, and three straight OCC goals cut the lead to 9-7 with just over 10 minutes remaining. Murphy then added her third goal of the half to restore the three-goal lead, 10-7, with 9:18 left on the clock.
Onondaga answered with 7:13 left in the contest and OCC was within two. But Murphy came up big again for Monroe, scoring the game's final goal with 4:40 remaining.
Murphy scored all four of her goals in the final 30 minutes and earned the tournament's Best Offensive Player award. The sophomore midfielder scored nine goals on the weekend, but it was her huge final half on Sunday that helped the Tribunes hold off Onondaga's late advances.
The Lazers started quickly, as Jenna Battaglini netted the game's first goal less than two minutes in. Monroe responded with a 3-0 run, with Gray finding the back of the cage twice.
OCC then tallied the next three goals to reclaim the lead. But Monroe would soon start the game-changing run that helped propel the team to the victory.
Schwartz finished with three goals for MCC. The freshman attack was unstoppable at times, and her presence behind the cage often helped the Tribunes maintain possession. Gray also scored three times and dished out an assist. Schwartz, Gray and Jamie Wallace were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Goalie Caitlin Cavallaro was named the tournament's Best Defensive Player. The sophomore stopped four Lazer shots Sunday after saving 10 against Harford in the semifinals.