ALLENDALE, MICH. – The postgame confetti surprised the Adelphi women's lacrosse team, but West Chester's second-half comeback in the national championship game didn't.
The fourth-seeded Panthers (19-3) captured their ninth NCAA Division II national title Sunday afternoon at Grand Valley State University, toughing out an 11-5 win over No. 3 WCU.
Adelphi carried an 8-1 lead into halftime, but the Golden Rams (20-3) threw in three-straight goals to open the second half.
"We knew West Chester wasn't going to stop playing, and we talked about it at halftime," coach Pat McCabe said. "They're a good team, and we knew they were going to make some adjustments at halftime They did a few things [defensively] to get us uncomfortable. We didn't react very well to it."
Adelphi's Kole Pollock, who scored four times, snapped a goal drought of more than 22 minutes by scoring with just under eight minutes left. Almost 90 seconds later, Lena Riportella notched her third goal to give the Panthers some breathing room down the stretch.
Pollock scored her 81st goal of the season on a power-play with 5:20 left.
"It was a really aggressive, scrappy game, and we knew what we had to do," said Pollock, who was named the tournament's most outstanding player. "Sometimes it just takes us taking a break for a second to see what we need to get done. ... We were turning over the ball a little bit, but we knew we were going to get our groove back again and get a couple more goals that we needed."
Goalie Emma Lemanski made six saves for the Panthers, who made their fifth national championship appearance in six seasons.
Alyssa Gillespie and Alison Johnson also scored for Adelphi.
"We found our footing again later on, and we knew there would be ups and downs," McCabe said. "We were prepared for it."
Allison Stackpole found Riportella for the winning goal with 10:43 left in the first half, pushing the Panthers to an early 6-0 advantage. Ten minutes later, Chelsea Abreau scored her second goal to ensure Adelphi a seven-score lead at halftime.
In the opening 30 minutes, Pollock, Riportella and Abreau combined to score six times on nine shots on goal.
WCU didn't crack the scoreboard until Tara Morrissey assisted Ryan McKinney for a goal with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half. McKinney and Devon Mela scored two goals apiece for the Golden Rams.
Before the trophy ceremony, the Panthers approached midfield just as as the celebratory confetti cannons went off, startling almost all of the players and leaving them with laughs and smiles as they scraped the rainbow-colored streamers off their cleats and uniforms.
"We were all behind the confetti cannons and were just talking," Pollock said. "All of a sudden, it just exploded. That was insane. Now all the confetti is stuck around my shoes."