As competitive as the 2022 World Lacrosse Women’s Championship might have been, it felt like more of a coronation.
The United States, the eight-time titlist that had outscored its previous seven opponents by more than 13 goals per game, did enough to keep Canada at bay in the second half Saturday afternoon to complete an 11-8 victory in the tournament final at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium.
With the win, the U.S. (8-0) improved to 9-2 in championship games and captured its first title on American soil. The country’s only two setbacks in tournament finals came at the hands of Australia in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, in 1986 and Annapolis in 2005.
The U.S. extended its winning streak to 30 in a row. The Americans have not suffered a loss since a 14-7 setback to Australia on July 2, 2005, in that title game.
Goalkeeper Liz Hogan, who finished with a 4.59 goals-against average and a .419 save percentage, said she never had a doubt the U.S. would claim the championship.
“We worked for five years to be here and be under this kind of pressure,” said Hogan, who collected a gold medal in her debut as the team’s starter. “We knew that we had each other’s back and that we had that kind of trust. So no matter what happened — if they tried to stall or throw something crazy at us — we had each other’s backs, and we were going to pull it out.”
“It’s definitely something we think about and we talk about, but it’s never guaranteed,” said attacker Sam Apuzzo, who racked up five points on three goals and two assists Saturday. “I think the way we played this tournament kind of showed that. We never let up or took plays off. So I think that was a focus throughout.”
How dominant were the Americans? After Saturday’s game, the U.S. completed the tournament outscoring its six opponents in eight games 134-39 — an average of 11.8 goals per game.
The Americans won five games by double-digit margins. They gave up 10 goals or more only once in a 16-11 win against Canada in the tournament opener for both sides June 29.
And they overcame the loss of reserve attacker Kylie Ohlmiller, who did not play because of a left knee injury suffered in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s 17-2 drubbing of Australia in a semifinal. Ohlmiller had ranked third on the team in assists (seven) and fifth in points (17).
“They’re dialed in,” Hogan said of her teammates. “It’s a crazy talented group of people from top to bottom, from the attackers to the midfielders to the defenders and to the goalies. I’m just blessed to be with them.”
Canada coach Scott Teeter, who coaches Louisville, acknowledged the difficulty in finding a vulnerable spot in the U.S. roster.
“That’s a star-studded lineup right there,” he said. “Just look at their attackers and their next wave of attackers that are on the bench that didn’t get in. We had to get our matchups and keep our matchups, and for the most part, I thought we did a very good job keeping them at bay and that stuff. It’s just when you keep giving them the ball over and over again, great players will make you pay and score, and that’s what they did.”
But U.S. coach Jenny Levy, a Roland Park graduate, said her team could not afford to overlook Canada.
“Canada’s an unbelievable opponent,” said Levy, who guided North Carolina to its third NCAA Division I crown in May. “Their schemes and their tactical abilities are very good. We had to come out, we couldn’t sit back, and we had to be dominant. So it’s not a given. It’s a three-goal win.”
The U.S. enjoyed several individual accomplishments, too. Midfielder Ally Mastroianni set the tournament record for draw controls with 38, shattering the previous mark of 30 set by teammate and former Maryland midfielder Taylor Cummings (McDonogh) in 2017.
Attacker Kayla Treanor established American career marks in goals with 44 to pass Quinn Carney’s record of 37 in 2001 and 2005 and points with 77 to eclipse Katie Rowan’s mark of 69 in 2009 and 2013. Cummings also set an American all-time record in draw controls with 56 to break Ally Carey’s mark of 44 in 2013 and 2017.
Leading 6-4 at halftime, the U.S. turned to Apuzzo, the 2018 recipient of the Tewaaraton Award given to college lacrosse’s top player. She scored off a curl around the right post, fed midfielder Marie McCool for her third goal of the game, then converted a free-position opportunity from the top of the arc in the first eight minutes of the third quarter.
Apuzzo, who had played in the shadows of fellow attackers Kayla Treanor and Charlotte North, said she was inspired by a halftime pep talk from assistant and Stony Brook coach Joe Spallina.
“I focused in,” she said. “Coach Spallina kind of talked to me at halftime and really got me going and really made me a lot more confident in the third quarter. That definitely made me feel better going in.”
Levy said none of Apuzzo’s teammates or coaches were caught off-guard by her outburst.
“She’s unbelievable,” Levy said. “She caused a turnover late in the game that got us the ball back, and we scored [for the final outcome]. We know what she can do, and yet she’s unselfish and a little quieter. But she has the ability to pop off and be dominant in a game like what we saw from her today, and she was great.”
Former Maryland midfielder Erica Evans paced Canada (6-2) with a game-high four goals, and goalie Kameron Halsall stopped 10 shots. Teeter said he believes the distance between Canada and the U.S. is shrinking.
“If you look at the three times [in the finals], the first one was 19-5, the second one was 10-5, and now it’s 11-8,” he said. “So you just keep moving. We have a great mix with quality veterans and great players that had experience at the U-19 level and then some newcomers. So we’re developing the talent all across Canada. It’s difficult to make this team, and we’re moving the needle forward and pushing the envelope and narrowing the gap, which we want to do.”