For 16 games, Chapman’s No. 1-ranked men’s lacrosse team performed perfectly. The team was undefeated, tossing opponents aside with lopsided score lines and edging out the close games it needed to. That was true until May 12, when Chapman lost 10-8 in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) National Championship against No. 3-ranked Michigan State University.
After Chapman won the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference championship April 29, the team traveled to the MCLA championships in Salt Lake City, Utah, where it rattled off three straight wins.
Against Liberty University, Chapman had a scare in the second round of the tournament, winning 11-10 in overtime.
“They just need to relax and play,” said head coach Dallas Hartley after the game. “We’ve been struggling with that.”
Two years ago, Chapman won the national championship. Senior forward Dylan Garner, who played on that championship team, said Chapman expected to secure its second title this season.
“Our biggest expectation going into this tournament is to win,” Garner said after the win against Liberty. “We knew Indiana and Liberty were both very good teams. We started off a bit hesitant and ended up winning.”
But Garner’s expectation failed to come true with the loss to Michigan State.
The game was balanced, with Chapman jumping to a 2-1 lead in the first quarter, before Michigan State made it 3-2. Chapman tied it up at 3-3 in the second quarter, starting a trend of Michigan State taking the lead, followed by Chapman tying the game. This repeated itself at 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6, until Michigan State separated itself in the fourth quarter at 9-6.
When Chapman closed the gap to 9-7, Michigan State responded with another goal. By the time Garner closed the gap to 10-8, less that two minutes remained and Michigan State waited out the clock before celebrating at midfield.
Emmie Farber contributed to this report.