WASHINGTON, D.C. – Loyola University earned its first Big East Championship by topping Notre Dame 12-10. The victory secured Loyola’s 14th appearance in the NCAA Championships and first since 2004.
The Greyhounds will find out who they play in the first round of the NCAA Championships on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. when the selection show is broadcast on NCAA.com.
“This team has a lot of confidence,” Loyola coach Jen Adams said. “I told them in the locker room that they are 15-2 already this year, and they know how to win. They just needed to go out with that confidence and play like they are able to.”
Loyola (16-2) took a 6-5 lead with 1:48 to play before halftime as Grace Gavin scored unassisted, but just seven seconds later, Kaitlin Keena tallied a goal to tie it for Notre Dame. With 23 ticks left on the first half clock, Shaylyn Blaney rocketed a free-position shot for a goal, staking the Fighting Irish to a 7-6 lead at the break. Six different Notre Dame players accounted for scores in the first half.
The Greyhounds, however, responded by holding Notre Dame (10-9) scoreless for the first 17:04 of the second half. During that span, Mary Heneberry scored, and Marlee Paton tallied a goal off a Caroline Hager assist to put Loyola ahead 8-7.
Jamie Morrison tied it again for the Fighting Irish with 12:56 to play, but Gavin would tally a goal on a free-position shot 1:13 later that would not only put the Greyhounds in front for good, but it set two prestigious marks.
Her goal was the 224th of her career, eclipsing the school record of 223 career goals set by Janet Eisenhut. It was also the 300th point of Gavin’s career, making her the 23rd player in Division I history to score 300 or more points. Eisenhut’s record had stood for more than 28 years; she played at Loyola from 1980-1983.
Paton put Loyola ahead by two, 10-8, when she shot down the middle alley and scored with 10:06 remaining.
Morrison scored her second of the half off a Maggie Tamasitis assist with 6:15 to play, but Loyola’s Kellye Gallagher came down with the ensuing draw control and pushed it ahead to Heneberry on the right sideline.
Heneberry curled around the back of the crease, split a double-team and dumped a low shot past Notre Dame goalkeeper Ellie Hilling to up the Greyhounds’ lead to two, 11-9, with 5:56 on the clock.
Blaney pulled Notre Dame back within a goal just 27 seconds later when she tallied another free-position goal, but with 4:37 on the clock, the Fighting Irish were called for shooting space, and Taryn VanThof bounced her free-position shot inside the near post to give Loyola another two-goal cushion.
The Greyhounds, despite two turnovers, were able to run out the remaining time on the clock for the championship.
Gavin and Heneberry each scored three goals and had an assist, while Abby Rehfuss and Paton both tallied two goals. Hager finished with a goal and two assists.
Gallagher picked up a career-high seven ground balls, and Stoothoff made 10 saves in goal.
Stoothoff earned Big East Championships Most Outstanding Player honors, and she was joined on the All-Tournament team by Gavin, Rehfuss, Ana and Mary Heneberry and Paton.
The Irish jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead just 21 seconds into the game with goals by Keena and Kailene Abt. Both came immediately after Notre Dame draw controls.
After a goal by Gavin cut the lead to one, the third-seeded Greyhounds tied the score when Heneberry beat her defender coming from behind the goal and passed across the crease to Caroline Hager for a quick stick goal with 22:08 remaining in the first half.
The score would go back and forth for the remainder of the half. After Kaitlyn Brosco gave the Irish a 3-2 lead, Rehfuss tied it up again with 17:58 remaining.
The Irish held a 15-5 advantage in draw controls, led by Blaney and Jackie Doherty who had three apiece. Doherty also notched a team-high four ground balls. Both were selected to the all-tournament team.
Notre Dame goalkeeper Ellie Hilling made five saves.