ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Tournament Most Valuable Player Chelsea Johnson (So., Worthington, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) lead all scorers in the championship game tallying three points from the two meter position as Grove City College captured its second straight Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III Eastern Championship with a 7-2 victory over Washington & Jefferson College in Macalester College's Leonard Natatorium.
The title marks the second in as many years for the Wolverines as Grove City defeated Carthage College 8-7 in last year's title tilt at Utica College. In addition, the win moves the squad to 25-1 in CWPA Division III action over the past two seasons with Grove City's lone loss coming to Carthage (10-7 L) during the regular season.
Overall, Johnson dominated the weekend registering 10 of Grove City's goals, while sharpshooters Brittany LaPalme (Sr., Hollywood, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and Andrea Wilson (Sr., Newberg, Ore./Veritas School) connected for seven goals each to aid the Wolverines' potent offense as the trio accounted for twenty-four of Grove City’s thirty total goals.
However, the key to the game was Grove City's ability to deny shots and scoring chances to the Presidents. During the team's three games at the 2011 Division III Eastern Championship, the Wolverines held their opposition to a total of six goals (16-3 W vs. Utica, 7-1 W vs. Wheaton College, 7-2 W vs. W&J). Anchoring the defensive stand was goalie Amanda Johnston (So., San Luis Obispo, Calif./San Luis Obispo) who stopped twenty-nine of thirty-five shots on cage during the weekend, including nine versus Washington & Jefferson.
Battling W&J for the third time this season following 12-2 and 9-4 victories during the regular season, the trio of LaPalme, Johnson and Wilson tallied markers at 7:40, 4:03 and 31 seconds to stake the Wolverines to 3-1 in the first period. It would prove all Johnston and the rest of the Red & White would need to notch yet another championship crown.
Kate Van Schaik (Sr., Arnold, Md./St. Mary's) netted W&J's lone score of the opening frame marking her fourth and final goal of the tournament and her collegiate career.
Wilson and LaPalme continued to dominate in front of the cage during the second period tacking on scores from well outside six-meters to make it 5-1 at the break.
Johnson would not be outdone by the other two parts of the Wolverines' terrible trio as she ripped in markers at 6:35 and 3:19 to account for all the scoring in the third period as Grove City moved closer to picking up its second title and concluded its offense for the season.
Needing a significant comeback to have a chance at pulling even prior to the end of regulation, the Presidents honored their past and turned to their future with 1:01 on the game clock. Katie Weiber (Sr., Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley), who netted five points in three games to lead W&J in scoring on the weekend, was substituted by her younger sibling Dana Weiber (Fr., Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) during the closing minutes of the match. Dana Wieber took advantage of the opportunity by tallyinig her lone goal of thee weekend to close out the Division III season.
The game was a defensive struggle on both ends as Washington & Jefferson held Grove City to under 10 goals for just the fourth time over the past 26 league games. Last year, the Wolverines failed to break the decade mark twice at the 2010 Division III Eastern Championship as W&J (8-6 W, 4/23/10) and Carthage (8-7 W, 4/24/10). In addition, Grove City has allowed more than 10 goals to a CWPA Division III team just once, the program's 10-7 loss to Carthage during the 2011 regular season.
The first institution to reach the men's and women's Division III title tilts in the same academic year, Washington & Jefferson's title game appearance marked the program's first-ever attempt at a conference title. Further, in continues a streak of second place finishes by the Presidents as the men's and women's water polo squads at Washington & Jefferson have never won a championship as the men's program finished second at the Divsion III Eastern Tournament in 2010, 2009 and 2007.
|Washington & Jefferson||1||0||0||1||--||2|
|Grove City College||3||2||2||0||--||7|
Grove City Goals: Chelsea Johnson (3); Brittany LaPalme (2); Andrea Wilson (2)
W&J Goals: Kate Van Schaik; Dana Weiber
Saves: Grove City - Amanda Johnston (9); W&J - McKenzie Graf (7)
Exclusions: Grove City - 4; W&J - 4
Advantage Opportunities: Grove City - 1-for-4 ; W&J - 0-for-4
Sprints: Grove City - 4-for-4 ; W&J - 0-for-4
Officials: Andy Mattson, JR Vanderwall