Illinois Wesleyan strung together four straight goals late in the second half Saturday to turn back Augustana 14-12 and win the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin women’s lacrosse championship.
The loss at Thorson-Lucken Field denied the top-seeded Vikings the chance to add to a collection of four straight conference titles, two in the Midwest Women’s Lacrosse Conference in 2013 and 2014 and the first two CCIW championships in the sport the past two seasons.
“We weren’t at our best at a time when we needed to be. The 50-50 balls and the ground balls, they seemed to get them more frequently than we did,’’ first-year Augustana coach C.J. Durham said. “It’s tough right now. We’ve made some great strides this season and we fought to the end, but the numbers didn’t add up.’’
The Vikings did force Illinois Wesleyan to earn its victory.
Augustana overcame a 10-6 halftime deficit, attacking throughout the opening minutes of the second half and putting together a run of five straight goals.
The Vikings (11-7) tied the game at 10-10 with 21 minutes, 27 seconds remaining when Christina McCabe took an Olivia Mayer feed.
Just over three minutes later, Anne Hopkins fed the ball to McCabe for a goal which moved Augustana in front 11-10.
“We did a good job of regrouping at the half,’’ Durham said. “I felt like we adjusted well. We were getting to the ground balls that we weren’t getting to in the first half, playing our game. We were unable to sustain it.’’
After missing several open looks which would have added to the lead, the Vikings surrendered the next four goals and that decided the game.
Claudia Richman tied the game at 11-11 with 12:10 to play before a pair of goals within a 46-second span around nine-minute park by Dani Engelbreit and Sam Bidlack pushed the second-seeded Titans (14-5) ahead to stay.
Mayer led Augustana with five goals.