The US Lacrosse Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) National Championship, now in its 18th year, returns to Texas for the first time since 2006, with games beginning Wednesday at the Multipurpose Complex in Round Rock.
The WCLA is comprised of 230 college club teams from coast-to-coast that compete under the US Lacrosse umbrella. From these, the most deserving Division I and Division II club teams qualify for the season-ending national championships, conducted by US Lacrosse each spring.
The 16-team Division I tournament begins on Wednesday, May 9, while the 12-team Division II tournament starts Thursday, May 10. The event concludes with championship games for both divisions on Saturday, May 12.
Harrow Sports, Guardian, and Chipotle are the official event partners for the 2018 US Lacrosse WCLA National Championships, while US Lacrosse’s national partners, Greenfields and Nationwide, provide additional event support.
Fans are welcome to attend all games. Admission and parking at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex are free.
The University of Michigan Club is the No. 1 seed in the Division I championship following an undefeated regular season, and brings a 15-0 record into Wednesday’s opening round game against No. 16 seed Oregon Club. The Wolverines are one of eight automatic qualifiers for the championship as champions from the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL). The number one seed has won the championship in three of the past five years.
“The regular season is finished and the only thing being number one means to us now is that we know what we are capable of and it sets the bar high for us,” said Michigan coach David McKinnon. “We are now looking at Oregon.”
While Michigan, which won the title in 2015, may be the favorite on paper, the heavyweight field also includes the three other most recent national champions: No. 2 seed Georgia (2016 champion), No. 4 seed Pittsburgh (2014), and No. 8 Delaware Club (2017). Additionally, No. 5 North Carolina Club was a semifinalist last year, and No. 3 BYU has a 2018 resume that may be second to none.
“We are proud of the big wins we have had this season,” said BYU coach Nikki Dabrowski. “Our team understands it is a big deal to be in the top four. We feel like winning our region sets us up well for nationals because we know how difficult our region is.”
The top 11 seeds in this year’s Division I field are all returnees from last year’s championship. Among those, No. 9 seed Cal Poly and Michigan lead the way as they are each making their 16th overall appearance in the national tournament.
“We are aware of how hard we have to work and how smart we will have to be to get to Saturday,” McKinnon said. “The other 15 teams in Texas are just as invested as we are and many of these games will be won by the team doing the small things just a little better.”
In the 12-team Division II bracket, two-time defending champion University of Denver earned the top seed for the third straight year and brings an 11-4 overall record into the tournament. The Pioneers are making their fifth straight and sixth overall appearance in the championship.
“The girls are very excited about the number one seed, but that definitely comes with a lot of pressure,” said Denver coach Mindy Stone. “The last two seasons are not even on our mind going into this tournament. We are only looking toward competing and doing our best in this tournament.”
Last year’s D-II championship runner-up Loyola (Md.) University is the number two seed, with St. Thomas, the only undefeated D-II team, receiving the number three seed. Two teams are making their first-ever Division II tournament appearances: No. 7 seed New Hampshire and No. 12 Portland State.
Two local teams qualified for this year’s championship event. Texas (9-5) is the No. 15 seed in the Division I field and faces No. 2 Georgia (14-3) in Wednesday’s opening round. SMU (10-2) is the No. 4 seed in the Division II tournament, returning to the field for the first time since 2014, and begins pool play on Thursday.
“SMU is thrilled to be able to attend the national tournament again,” said coach Liz Holmes. “The event always coincides with our final exams, and in recent years, we have been unable to accept our AQ or at-large bid. This year’s proximity to Dallas reduces our travel time and will allow us to bring most of our players.”
The Division I and Division II formats are slightly different due to the variance in the number of teams. The Division I format calls for a traditional single-elimination 16-team bracket to determine the champion. Following each team’s first loss, it moves into the consolation bracket to determine its final placement.
In Division II, the teams are arranged into four pods of three teams each. A round-robin within each pod determines the qualifier that advances into the semifinal round. Single-elimination is utilized in the semifinals and final.
WCLA Division I First Round Games – Wednesday, May 9
11 am – No. 1 Michigan (15-0) vs. No. 16 Oregon (6-5)
11 am – No. 8 Delaware (8-1) vs. No. 9 Cal Poly (9-4)
11 am – No. 5 North Carolina (9-2) vs. No. 12 Colorado (14-6)
11 am – No. 4 Pittsburgh (13-3) vs. No. 13 St. Mary’s (10-3)
2 pm – No. 3 BYU (13-2) vs. No. 14 Penn State (6-4)
2 pm – No. 6 Boston College (13-2) vs. No. 11 San Diego State (10-4)
2 pm – No. 7 Virginia (8-3) vs. No. 10 UCLA (9-5)
2 pm – No. 2 Georgia (14-3) vs. No. 15 Texas (9-5)
WCLA Division II Pool Play Groupings – Thursday, May 10
Pool A – No. 1 Denver (11-4), No. 8 Grand Valley State (11-1), No.12 Portland State (9-2)
Pool B – No. 2 Loyola (10-3), No. 7 New Hampshire (10-1), No. 11 St. Benedict (7-2)
Pool C – No. 3 St. Thomas (8-0), No. 6 Providence (13-4), No. 10 Oakland (9-3)
Pool D – No. 4 SMU (10-2), No. 5 Utah State (7-3), No. 9 Vermont (5-3)
Both the D-I and D-II national semifinal and championship games on May 11 & 12 will be available for viewing via free streaming, Friday’s semifinal games can be accessed at www.ASBN.tv while Saturday’s championship games will be available at www.twitch.tv/elevensportsprime.
Complete coverage of the championships – including blogs, stories, scores, updated game schedules, brackets and photo galleries – will be available throughout the event on uslacrosse.org/wcla2018 and on USLaxMagazine.com.