GRANVILLE, Ohio -- The Big Red used a 10-goal surge to help secure a 19-9 victory over Wittenberg in the semifinal round of the 2017 North Coast Athletic Conference Women's Lacrosse Tournament on Wednesday.
Free-position goals by Leah Israel and Claire Ludlow inside the first two minutes quickly gave the Big Red a two-score advantage. After the Tigers tied the contest at 2-2, Ludlow and freshman Kiely Noonan rebuilt the multi-goal advantage.
Facing another disadvantage, Wittenberg went on to score five of the next six goals to grab a 7-5 lead with 10 minutes left in the half. Israel pulled DU to within one with a free-position score at the 8:24 mark. Maddy Heher tied the game after taking a pass from senior captain Annie McMahon and firing a shot past goalie Mary Furlong. Just 22 seconds later, junior Halle Walsh put Denison back in front off a feeder from Ludlow.
Over the final 4:48 of the half, the Big Red found the back of the net four more times to take a five-goal advantage. Noonan bookended the burst with a pair of unassisted tallies, while Ludlow and fellow senior Reid Hirschey also scored late in the period. The offensive surge continued in the second half. Noonan found Heher and Virginia Hamilton as 26:54 and 17:24, respectively. Israel extended DU's lead to eight with an unassisted tally at 12:31.
Victoria Zysik ended the 10-goal run at 12:11 with an unassisted marker. Noonan's fourth goal of the game with just under 10 minutes to play, while Hirschey scored off an assist from Colleen Muldoon. Leander Perun's goal got the running clock going with 6:08 left in regulation. The final goals of the game came from the Tigers' Emily Wadds and Hamilton, setting the final score at 19-9.
The Big Red nearly doubled up Wittenberg in shots (46-24) while collecting twice as many ground balls, 32-16. Denison was a perfect 18-for-18 in clear attempts, while also committing just 11 turnovers. The Tigers held an 18-11 advantage in draw controls but 24 turnovers stifled their offensive production. The Big Red also forced a season-high tying 17 turnovers.
Noonan finished with a game-high six points after scoring four times and dishing out two assists. She also controlled four draws, while Ludlow had four points (3 goals, 1 assist). Heher and Israel also scored three goals apiece, while Hamilton finished with two goals and one helper.
Israel and Grace Gavula co-led the team with six ground balls each, while Walsh scooped up five. Jane Goodspeed had three draw controls and three ground balls, while Muldoon caused three turnovers. Hannah Magarian (8-2) made the start and finished with one save in 30 minutes, while Becca Jones had four saves in the second half.
For the sixth time in the last seven seasons, the Big Red will play for the NCAC Tournament Championship. As the top-seed, they will host second-seeded Oberlin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 at Piper Stadium in Granville. Denison is seeking their fourth-straight conference tournament title.