CSU women’s lacrosse brings home National Championship with an undefeated record

Rams' senior attacker, Maddie Garcia, 1, cradles the ball past Pittsburgh's Jess Kaszas, 2 in the quarterfinals in Colorado Springs. The Rams won the quarter finals and ultimately the national championship.
Rams’ senior attacker, Maddie Garcia, 1, cradles the ball past Pittsburgh’s Jess Kaszas, 2 in the quarterfinals in Colorado Springs. The Rams won the quarter finals and ultimately the national championship.

Some say revenge is the best motivator. Unfortunately for the University of California, Santa Barbra and every other opponent on the CSU women’s lacrosse team’s schedule this year, they happened to be on the wrong side of revenge.

Last year the Rams finished second after a heartbreaking loss in the national championship to UC Davis in a game that “we should have won,” said senior captain Hayley Bernstein.

They were not going to let it happen again. That was the mindset of the team going into the tournament.

On Saturday the women defeated UC Santa Barbra 14-4 in the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates National Championship at El Pomar Sports Complex in Colorado Springs to win their fourth national championship in team history, and their third in four years, capping off a perfect 22-0 season. CSU is the first number one seed to win the tournament since Cal Poly in 2007, breaking the “curse of the number one seed.”

“The number one seed almost never wins the tournament and we wanted to break that this year,” Bernstein, who was named the top player in Division I, said. “It was really cool doing it.”

A huge defensive effort from the Rams allowed three goals by UCSB in the first half and only one point the remainder of the game. UCSB never led in the game.

The Rams used last year’s loss in the championship game as fuel for this season.

“They definitely did not want to lose again and they were so mad about the fact that they did lose last year that they were fired up this season,” said head coach Lindsey Hudek. “I don’t think they could have done what they did this year without having that loss last year.”

CSU’s perfect season was accomplished with confidence, heart and a heavy dose of mental and physical toughness, as the Rams battled injuries throughout the season and in the tournament. Bernstein said working through injuries was the most difficult part of the tournament.

“We had broken bones, we had torn shoulders, pulled muscles,” she said. “I thought we did a great job of staying composed and pushing through all the pain.”

Senior captain Maddie Garcia, who received this year’s Division I attack of the year, was injured in the semi-finals when she fractured her ankle. No way was that going to stop her from playing in her final game as a Ram.

Garcia scored three goals in the title game and assisted three others. Afterward, she appeared on crutches and had an ice pack attached to her shoulder.

“It was kind of a little bit of a struggle getting here,” Garcia said. “(I) pushed through and look at us now; we’re national champions for the third time.”

The team will lose seven seniors to graduation this year: Garcia, Bernstein, Sarah Langlie, Lisa Fernholz, Karly Slyne, Caroline Coulson and Sarah Moyer. Hudek said they will be difficult to replace because all of them are strong players. She said that they also acted as teachers to the younger players, which will make the transition easier next year.

“The girls who are going to take their place know exactly what they need to do and they know how to play and how to play strong because of those seniors,” Hudek said.

Still, the four-year run for these seniors will be one of the greatest in CSU women’s lacrosse history.

“To be in the championship game all four years and to win three out of the four years is just unbelievable,” said Langlie.

“Last year was not going to happen again,” she said. “We refused to lose.”

Sports Reporter Katie O’Keefe can be reached at sports@collegian.com.