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May 4, 2013

Vikings reign as MWLC tournament champs

Freshman Rebecca Pollard had three goals and an assist Saturday night as Augustana won the MWLC tournament championship with a 10-9 win over North Central at Thorson-Lucken Field.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - Augustana fought off a furious North Central rally Saturday night and held on for a 10-9 win in the championship game of the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference tournament at Thorson-Lucken Field. Freshman Rebecca Pollard (Westfield HS, Carmel, Ind.) led the Vikings with three goals and an assist. Coach Sara Tisdale's squad, now 16-3 on the year, earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals drop to 12-5.

The second of two straight Pollard goals with 21:20 left in the game gave Augustana an 8-3 lead, but North Central roared back, scoring five straight to tie it with 5:48 left. The Cardinals' Rachael Houp scored the equalizer off an assist from Gina Fisher.  

Just over a minute later, a key sequence was started when Bridget Conniff (Benet Academy, Downer Grove, Ill.) forced a turnover deep in the Vikings' end which resulted in a breakout. Allie Roehrenbeck (Columbus Academy, Gahanna, Ohio) crossed midfield and fired a long pass to Emily Handrahan (Lake Zurich HS, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.) in front of the Cardinal goal. Handrahan buried the shot and the Vikings had the lead back.  

At the 2:59 mark, Roehrenbeck was on the receiving end of a Hilary Kargl (Sacred Heart Academy, Louisville, Ky.) assist, scoring to give the hosts a 10-8 lead.  

North Central wouldn't go away, however. Fisher scored with 1:08 left to get the Cardinals back within a goal, but Kaylee Nolan (Sandburg HS, Orland Park, Ill.) controlled the ensuing draw and the Vikings were able to salt away the final minute and get their school-record 16th win.  

Pollard got Augustana on the board first, scoring off a Kate Zisser (Kirkwood HS, St. Louis, Mo.) assist at the 25:34 mark of the first half. Christina Letmanski made it 2-0 with an unassisted goal at the 16:16 mark. Kargl and Kendall Maduro (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville, Ill.) scored for the Vikings and North Central's Danielle Fiala scored three goals in just over 10 minutes to get the visitors to within 4-3. Letmanski gave Augustana a 5-3 lead at the break, scoring her team-high 49th goal of the season with 1:24 left. Sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Osier (Naperville Central HS, Naperville, Ill.) was outstanding in the opening 30 minutes, stopping nine Cardinal shots, several from point blank range.  

Tisdale's club started fast in the second half. Pollard assisted on a Handrahan goal and then scored two herself to put the Vikings up 8-3. That set the stage for the Cardinals' big comeback.  

Letmanski and Handrahan, with two each, joined Pollard as multiple goal scorers for Augustana. Zisser had a pair of assists. Sophomore defender Emily Pavlik (Lyons Township, LaGrange, Ill.) recorded team highs of eight ground balls and seven caused turnovers. Osier finished the night with 10 saves.  

The Vikings now wait for the NCAA pairings to find out the site and opponent for their first round game on Wednesday, May 8.