SALEM, Va. - Adelphi University built a reputation of combining proficient offense and suffocating defense as it rolled into Sunday's NCAA Division II women's lacrosse national final.
The Panthers had to display a different identity, however, to take that one last step.
Lock Haven challenged top-ranked Adelphi like few of its previous 21 opponents had. The outcome was in question right down to the final minute, but the Panthers held on to claim their sixth national championship with a 7-5 win over the Eagles at Kerr Stadium.
The final was the lowest total score since the Division II tournament was established in 2001 and easily the lowest-scoring game for the 22-0 Panthers, whose previous low was 10 goals and had routinely routed opponents by double digits.
"We had to dig down deep," Adelphi senior attacker Devan Crimi said. "This team has heart, and I think that was shown today. When a team comes back like [Lock Haven] did, it's easy to get a little frazzled. But I think our girls did a good job staying composed."
"Any time you're playing for a national championship, and you have younger players, like we do, sometimes they'll do things that they're not expected to do," Adelphi coach Rob Grella said. "And certain issues might arise that we haven't seen, but they fought through it."
Lock Haven (19-3) used an aggressive defense, resulting in a 2-0 Adelphi lead at the half on goals by freshman Jackie Jahelka and junior Alexa Froccaro.
"I felt like I was in a soccer game and was having a flashback," Grella said. "Lock Haven did an amazing job of possessing the ball."
The lead grew to 3-0 when Emily Keesling scored less than three minutes into the second half, but the Panthers lost their fourth-leading scorer, Rachel O'Brien, four minutes later with her second yellow card.
Lock Haven scored four of the next five goals to tie the score at 4-4 with 16:32 to play.
After Grella called a timeout, Crimi scored on a free-position shot with 13:41 to play. Then Froccaro, the tournament's most outstanding player, scored her third goal of the game and sixth of the weekend to put the Panthers up 6-4. Lock Haven again cut its deficit to one, then Froccaro assisted on Rachel Aitkens' goal to make it 7-5 with 4:23 to go.