The No. 1 Chapman men’s lacrosse team reasserted its season-long dominance May 14, defeating California Polytechnic State University 9-5 to win the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) Division I National Championship, completing an undefeated season.
Chapman had reached the finals on two previous occasions in 2008 and 2009, and reached the semifinals in each of the last two seasons, but had failed to win the title.
“I’m just so happy for these guys and our seniors that have put in a lot of hard work,” said Head Coach Dallas Hartley. “Our junior and senior classes are unbelievable. These guys have been working hard all year. Sometimes it takes a few losses to get a little momentum, and last year hurt bad. These guys got a big win over us and we just wanted this so bad I think we put in the hard work it takes.”
To get to the title game, Chapman (22-0, 7-0) won 14-2 over Purdue University (9-6, 4-1), 16-8 over Arizona State University (8-7, 4-2) and 11-9 over the Georgia Institute of Technology (16-1, 4-0).
“We wanted to come out and make a statement with how we played,” said sophomore attacker Dylan Garner. “We didn’t underestimate our opponents and came out ready to play a full game.”
Garner had a massive tournament, scoring 15 goals to go along with six assists in the four games. He had four goals and an assist in the championship win over No. 3 Cal Poly (17-2, 9-0).
“We all worked our tails off today,” Garner said. “Our main goal was to just go hard the entire game, from start to finish and attack everybody, attack all the time and that’s what we did today. That definitely paid off, especially getting those extra possessions, starting with our face-off guy (junior midfielder Simon Jenkin). It was a great team effort all around.”
Jenkin was named MVP of the tournament, after he won 65 percent of the team’s face-offs against Cal Poly, helping the Panthers control possession.
“It was all due to our wings. I couldn’t have done it without them,” Jenkin said. “It was a team face-off unit out there and we worked well together.”
Senior attacker Dave Apruzzese finished his career strong, scoring four goals, including the team’s final goal of the season.
After neither team scored in the first quarter, Chapman scored five goals in the second quarter to take a 5-2 lead into halftime. The Panthers continued the intensity into the third quarter, scoring three more goals and taking a commanding 8-3 lead that they were ultimately able to hold onto.
Chapman graduates five seniors, including Apruzzese who led the team in goals with 58, captain Gus Gradinger, midfielders Alex Siegel and Alex Tomei and attacker Steve Koressel – who, along with junior midfielder Brent Melbye, was suspended from the team for two weeks for his arrest in connection with the theft of Tim the turkey from Orange High School and scored 51 goals on the season, including nine in the tournament.