WALESKA — Reinhardt outscored Tennessee Wesleyan 13-4 in the second half Saturday to claim its first Appalachian Athletic Conference women's lacrosse tournament title with an 18-9 win.
The Lady Eagles (16-1) already won their first regular-season conference title this year, but the tournament win gave them a sweep of the conference championships, and more importantly, gave Reinhardt an automatic berth to its first national tournament May 8-11, in Grand Rapids Michigan.
“It’s a culmination of building this program from when I got here,” Reinhardt coach Roy Reynolds said. “It’s come so far. It means respect for the school and respect for the girls. It means everything to us right now. It’s the first time we won both titles. We won it in convincing fashion, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do.”
Though the final margin was comfortable, Reinhardt found itself in some trouble early.
Stifling defense from Tennessee Wesleyan kept Reinhardt off the board for nearly nine minutes, as the Lady Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Eagles had their own impressive defensive start, though, and back-to-back goals from Caroline Copenhaver put Reinhardt ahead 4-3 with 4:34 to play in the first half.
A Tennessee Wesleyan goal in the final seconds of the first half sent the teams to the half knotted at 5-all, but Reinhardt came out differently in the second half.
“We had to make some adjustments is all,” Reynolds said. “They’re a great team. They had a good plan coming in that gave us some trouble. We just had to get ourselves together and play like we normally do in the second half, and we did.”
The Lady Eagles scored three goals in the first seven minutes of the second half and tallied eight of the first nine goals in the second half to open up a 13-6 lead that held the rest of the game.
Morgan McGhee, who missed the conference semifinal returned to the lineup and led Reinhardt with five goals. Copenhaver, Alyssa Klinger and Katie Yarish, who was named tournament MVP, each added four.
The win was tied for Reinhardt’s second smallest this season, and though it was not their most dominant performance, the Lady Eagles can still benefit from the game when they head to Michigan.
“It’s great to actually play games where you get down and get to fight back,” Reynolds said. “If you’re killing everyone all the time, you never learn that. It was a good experience that will help us in the national tournament.”