ALBION, Mich. – Craig Rundle, Albion College's retired head football coach, advised the graduating class which included four from the Briton women's lacrosse team to be ready for a roller coaster ride in remarks at commencement exercises.
Rundle, who led Albion to seven Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships, probably didn't know his words would be prophetic as the Britons edged Hope College, 16-14, in the MIAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament championship game.
The late goals helped Albion survive after its 8-0 lead in the first half melted into a game where the score was tied three times in the second half.
Chrystelle Lopez scored three times, Carly Schwarz and Darcy Muns added two apiece and Destiny Okon chipped in with a goal as Albion won the 1-on-1 battles to build the big lead with 18 minutes left in the first half.
Scoring became difficult for the Britons from that point on as Hope made adjustments to keep the Britons from making the isolation plays that had been so successful. Hope goalkeeper Laurel Frederickson also frustrated the Britons by making eight of her 10 saves in the second half.
Meanwhile, Carly Pieri scored three times and she assisted on Jane Ragains' strike and Paige Wilmer and Allison Darnell deposited free position shots as Hope rallied to cut Albion's lead to 9-7 at halftime.
Lopez scored her fourth goal of the day a minute and a half into the second half as Albion extended the lead to 10-7 and it foreshadowed how the rest of the game would go.
No matter how much Hope pressed, Albion would not relinquish the lead.
Hope forged a tie at 11 on Pieri's fourth goal of the day and at 12 on Wilmer's third score of the day.
Muns scored twice in 43 seconds as Albion surged to a 14-12 lead with six minutes left. Albion had a chance to extend the lead to three, but Frederickson made the save on Lopez's free position shot.
Hope made the clear after the save and worked the ball around for Pieri's fifth goal of the day with 3 ½ minutes left. Darnell scored nine seconds later as Hope leveled the score at 14.
Hope didn't get a possession to take the lead as Okon controlled the draw for Albion. Okon's initial shot was wide, but she didn't miss on the next one for her third goal of the day.
Hope had chances to forge another tie. Albion goalkeeper Alexis Robinson stopped Pieri's free position shot and Ragains' sent an attempt wide of the goal.
Albion was able to clear the ball from its defensive end and, as the Hope defense pressed to cause a turnover, Muns found an open space for her fifth goal that finished the scoring for the day.
Albion, now 14-4 under the direction of first-year Head Coach Laurie Merian, will await its assignment for the NCAA Division III Championship. The selection announcement is set for 9:30 p.m. Sunday on a video stream via ncaa.com.
Joe and Julie Serra have given a $5 million leadership gift to launch a fundraising initiative to make two dreams a reality at Albion College. The first is a newly expanded fitness and student activity facility at the site of the current Dow Recreation and Wellness Center. The second is a new or renovated competition facility for the volleyball, men's basketball and women's basketball that currently call Kresge Gymnasium home.
The College is continuing to raise funds in support of both projects. To learn more, call 517/629-0446 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.