As much as Maryland, North Carolina, Northwestern, Princeton, and Virginia have dominated the world of women’s lacrosse since 1990, the promise of the democratization of the sport in Division I remains very high.
Many of the improvements have been large-scale, with investments in programs such as Florida, Colorado, Southern California, and Michigan.
And then, there’s Elon University, a small liberal-arts college located a couple of miles off the interstate between Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham in central North Carolina.
A year ago, the Phoenix put themselves on the map with a win over a good Duke side.
Yesterday, Elon did one better, beating a very good Virginia side that had a preseason ranking inside the top 15.
Elon won the game in the final two minutes in a quirk borne from a recent rules change. With the game tied 10-10, Virginia had the ball with 1:50 to go in the game and worked it around the Elon goal, but could not hit the goal frame with a shot, leading to a shot-clock violation with 20 seconds remaining.
The Phoenix took the ball into the attack end and earned an 8-meter free position from the right hash with three seconds remaining. Junior Abby Godfrey arrowed the ball into the cage to give Elon an 11-10 win.
Whereas last year, Elon’s win over Duke didn’t give the team much of an RPI boost at the time of NCAA Tournament selection, it’s going to be interesting to see whether Elon is able to parlay this win into a winning Colonial Athletic Association campaign. The Phoenix do not play a single conference opponent until April 7. That’s when Elon plays all six of its conference rivals in a row before embarking on the conference tournament.
Until then, Elon does have a pretty tough row to hoe. They have Notre Dame on Feb. 23rd, North Carolina on March 14, and Duke on March 29.
This team, with plenty of players from championship-level programs such as Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.), Englewood Kent Denver (Md.), Mendham (N.J.), and Milton (Ga.), is fun to watch. Go and see them.