NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Player of the Game Mary Elizabeth Ward (Sr., San Rafael, Calif.) put away five shots to lead 10 scorers for Northwest Division Champion/No. 7-ranked the University of Washington as the Huskies hounded New York Division Championship runner-up Cornell University, 18-5, to conclude the opening round of eight games at the 2019 Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship hosted by the University of Notre Dame at the Rolfs Aquatic Center.
Washington, which hosted the 2018 Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship and punched its ticket to the event’s 2019 edition by stopping the University of Oregon (6-5 W) in the Northwest Division title game, kept its momentum going as the Huskies barked their way to a 6-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back to top the Big Red.
Following the first quarter, Cornell was never within five goals of Washington as the teams both tallied three goals in the second quarter before the Huskies garnered 6-2 and 3-0 scoring advantages in the concluding two quarters to wrap-up the contest with a 13-goal advantage on the scoreboard.
For Washington, Ward keyed the attack with a game-high five markers, while the quartet of Karli Stone (Jr., Tacoma, Wash.), Frances Dizzard (So., Seattle, Wash.), Jalene Weatherholt (Sr., San Jose, Calif.) and Jacqueline Li (Jr., Mercer Island, Wash.) all netted pairs. Ekaterina Andren (Fr., Gig Harbor, Wash.), Bailey Deck (Fr., San Diego, Calif.), Natalie Erjavec (So., Mountain View, Calif.), Arielle Howell (Jr., Olympia, Wash.) and Katie Snell (So., Cupertino, Calif.) also found the back of the net as the quintet accounted for solo tallies.
On the other end of the tank, Nikki Krisztinicz (So., McLean, Va.) highlighted Cornell’s offense with a hat-trick of three goals. Natalie Neamtu (So., Webster, N.Y.) and Christabella Forest (So., Chino Hills, Calif.) tossed in their team’s remaining markers.
In cage, Shelby Smith (Fr., San Diego, Calif.) stopped six shots to record the victory for the Huskies. The tandem of Cassie Benson (Gr., Pocatello, Idaho) and Mariam Obaiah (Fr, Greenwich, Conn.) combined for six saves. Benson, who played the first and second quarters prior to wrapping up the game with the final 6:04 of the fourth quarter between the pipes, took the loss with four saves and 12 goals allowed. Obaiah played guarded the bars for the third quarter and the opening 56 seconds of the fourth quarter with two saves and six goals permitted.
The victory advances Washington into the quarterfinals where the Huskies will take on Pacific Coast Division Champion/No. 1 California Polytechnic State University at 11:20 a.m. on Saturday, May 4. Cal Poly earned its date with Washington by taking down Sierra Pacific Division runner-up/No. 4 Fresno State University by an 11-9 count in the second game of the day.
In the history of the National Collegiate Club Championship, the Huskies have previously finished in First (2000), Sixth (2003), Seventh (2016, 2017, 2018), Eighth (2004) and 13th (2008) Place as the team is guaranteed to finish no lower than Eighth Place in 2019 thanks to upending Cornell.
The Big Red fall into the consolation side of the 16-team bracket and will face Fresno State in the concluding game on Day 1 of the championship tonight at 9:50 p.m.
A five-time (2005, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2018) New York Division Champion, Cornell made the championship field as New York Division victor Hartwick College was unable to attend per league policies.
Last year at the 2018 NCCC tournament hosted by Washington at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore., Cornell fell to The Ohio State University (17-4 L), topped Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (i.e. Virginia Tech) (9-7 W), slipped versus the University of Oregon (12-6 L) and handled Wellesley College (15-7 W) in the 11th Place game. It marked the all-time best finish for the Big Red as the team previously placed 13th at Florida State University (2012) to go along with 15th place spots at Texas A&M University (2005), Northwestern University (2006) and Notre Dame