SPARKS, Md. — After a two-year pause due to the global pandemic, the USA Lacrosse Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) National Championship returns to the field this week to put a welcome exclamation point on the 2022 women’s club lacrosse season.
The four-day event at the Multipurpose Complex in Round Rock, Texas begins on Wednesday, May 4 and features 16 Division I teams and 15 Division II teams competing in single-elimination format to crown their respective champions. The tournament concludes with championship games for both divisions on Saturday, May 7.
Fans are welcome to attend all games. Admission and parking are free.
The WCLA is comprised of 200 college club (non-varsity) teams from coast-to-coast that compete under the USA Lacrosse umbrella. From these, the most deserving Division I and Division II club teams qualify for the season-ending national championships, conducted annually since 2001 by USA Lacrosse.
The championship event is back in Texas for the third time overall and for the second time in Round Rock. The championship was hosted at this same venue in 2018 after making its initial Lone Star State appearance in Dallas in 2006.
DJO, MedStar Health, and Gatorade serve as official event sponsors for the 2022 USA Lacrosse WCLA Championships.
“We’re all just so excited and grateful to be playing again and we don’t take this opportunity for granted,” said senior Anne Kelly, team president for Boston College Club, the No. 1 seed in the Division I field.
The Eagles earned the top seed following an undefeated regular season and bring a 12-0 record into Wednesday’s opening round game against No. 16 seed University of Delaware Club. BC is making its ninth overall and fifth straight appearance in the WCLA Tournament. They had their best showing in 2014, finishing as the national championship runner-up.
“We know that the WCLA Tournament is going to be an awesome challenge for us and we’re going to face some great competition, but we genuinely think we have a good chance to win the championship,” Kelly said.
BC’s impressive 2022 resume includes wins over three teams that also advanced to Round Rock – No. 7 seed BYU, No. 9 UCLA, and No. 12 Michigan Club. Kelly notes that those games, as well as three victories over rival Northeastern in the New England Women's Lacrosse League, have helped the Eagles to build a lot of momentum as they arrive in Texas.
“I think we’ve played really good lacrosse all season and being the number one seed means something to us,” Kelly said. “Our mentality is that every game is important, so hopefully, we’re set up for success.”
While BC may arrive at the tournament as the favorite, there’s no shortage of strong challengers in the Division I field. No. 2 seed Georgia, which spent the first half of the season at the top of the national ranking, also brings an undefeated record to Round Rock. The Bulldogs, 18-0, open against No. 15 seed Washington.
With nine wins against ranked opponents in 2022, Georgia is as battle-tested as any team in the field. The Bulldogs were champions of the Southeastern Women’s Lacrosse League, which is represented with four teams in the Division I tournament, including two first-timers in Clemson and Florida State.
“Being here for the first time ever is a big deal for us,” said FSU’s senior goalie and club president Sophia Villalonga. “We’ve got good leaders on this team and a strong core of younger players, so it’s been really cool to see it all come together so well.”
The No. 10 seed Seminoles open play against No. 7 BYU, which finished as national runner-up the last time the event was hosted in Round Rock, in 2018. First round victories by both FSU and Georgia would set up a third meeting of the season between the SWLL rivals.
“We had a one-goal loss at Georgia pretty early in the season, when we were still unranked and they were number one in the poll,” Villalonga said. “That game showed us that we can hang with the best teams when we match their energy.”
The largest fan base in Round Rock will likely belong to local favorite Texas, which has to venture just 22 miles from its Austin campus. The Longhorns have become a staple at the WCLA Championship, making their 11th appearance in the last 12 tournaments played. As champion of the Texas Women’s Lacrosse League (TWLL), No. 14 seed Texas brings a 15-3 record into its opening game against No. 3 Virginia.
In the 15-team Division II bracket, Utah Valley earned the top seed for the first time and received a first round bye in the tournament. The Wolverines, 11-1 overall, are making just their second appearance in the championship and won the Rocky Mountain Women’s Lacrosse League title this season.
“Our team has grown so much his season and we’re pretty excited to be going into the tournament as the number one seed,” said SueAnn Van Valkenburg, club president and a junior attacker. “It’s nice to have the extra day with the bye, but we’ll definitely be watching the game involving the teams we could be playing.”
Utah Valley jump started its successful 2022 campaign with a 3-0 showing at the Santa Barbara Shootout in February, including a win over nationally ranked UC San Diego, which is seeded fourth in Round Rock. The Wolverines have held the top spot in the Division II national ranking throughout the spring, with their only blemish coming against Division I BYU in midseason.
“We didn’t know what to expect going into this season because we had a lot of new faces on the team, but we’ve really built a strong chemistry,” Van Valkenburg said. “We’re determined to live up to our ranking and seeding.”
Loyola Maryland Club, national champion in 2018 & 2019, is the number two seed after winning the Mid Atlantic Women’s Lacrosse League championship. The Greyhounds are trying to become the first three-time champion in the 12-year history of the Division II championship.
“Chasing a third straight championship has definitely been on our mind,” said senior Erin Haverty, one of just three holdovers from Loyola’s 2019 squad. “After getting put on pause for the last two seasons, the motivation and excitement for this tournament has been very present on our team.”
The format for both the Division I and Division II tournament calls for a traditional single-elimination bracket to determine the champion. Following each team’s first loss, it moves into the consolation bracket to determine its final placement.
WCLA Division I First Round Games – Wednesday, May 4
11 am – No. 1 Boston College Club (12-0) vs. No. 16 Delaware (8-4)
11 am – No. 8 Utah (8-3) vs No. 9 UCLA (10-3)
11 am – No. 5 Florida Club (13-2) vs. No. 12 Michigan Club (5-5)
11 am – No. 4 Virginia Tech Club (11-2) vs. No. 13 Pittsburgh Club (11-4)
2 pm – No. 3 Virginia Club (7-0) vs. No. 14 Texas (15-3)
2 pm – No. 6 Arizona State Club (13-0) vs. No. 11 Clemson (7-3)
2 pm – No. 7 BYU (10-3) vs. No. 10 Florida State (9-3)
2 pm – No. 2 Georgia (18-0) vs. No. 15 Washington (12-2)
WCLA Division II First Round Games – Wednesday, May 4
12 pm – No. 8 Providence (6-2) vs. No. 9 Oakland (7-3)
12 pm – No. 5 St. Thomas (12-1) vs. No. 12 UC Santa Cruz (9-1)
12 pm – No. 4 UC San Diego (14-1) vs. No. 13 Vermont Club (6-3)
3 pm – No. 3 Grand Valley State Club (10-1) vs. No. 14 Denver Club (5-5)
3 pm – No. 6 New Hampshire Club (7-1) vs. No. 11 Portland (8-2)
3 pm – No. 7 CSU San Marcos (9-2) vs. No. 10 Boise State (6-2)
3 pm – No. 2 Loyola Maryland Club (10-1) vs. No. 15 Air Force (6-4)
Note: No. 1 seed Utah Valley (11-1) received a first round bye
USA Lacrosse will provide free video streaming of Friday's D-I and D-II semifinal games and Saturday's two championship games from Round Rock. More details coming soon.
Complete coverage of the championships – including stories, scores, game schedules, brackets, and photo galleries - will be available throughout the event on usalacrosse.com/wcla and USLaxMagazine.com, and via social media (@USA_Lacrosse and @USALacrosseMag).