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Ave Maria: Gyrenes Name Women’s Lacrosse Bid to NAIA Tourney Top Athletic Story of the Year!

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in , , , .
  via Ave Maria web site – picture via the web site   AMU Athletics Top Ten Moments Of The Year – #1 NOTE: This is the tenth and final release of the “Top 10 Moments of the Year” from the 2016-2017 athletic year at Ave Maria University. Each week for the next four weeks, the Sports Information Department will release a few articles counting down to the top moment of the year. AVE MARIA, Fla. —  The Ave Maria women’s lacrosse team concluded a historic season that included their first appearance in the NAIA National Invitational on May 4. The Lady Gyrenes fell to two-seed Davenport 15-9 in the opening round of the eight-team invitational. The Ave Maria women’s lacrosse team earned its first-ever bid to the National Tournament on April 23rd when the NAIA released the eight-team bracket. The event took place at Sirrine Stadium in Greenville, S.C. Ave Maria, who finished the season tied for sixth in the last regular season poll, received the fourth at-large bid and took on WHAC Conference Champion and two-seed Davenport in round one. Ave Maria had already played four of the seven other teams that are in the tournament field. AMU and Davenport played earlier this season, AMU’s second game of the year, in Ave Maria with the Panthers coming out on top 22-14. In the National Tournament, Davenport jumped out to an early lead with two goals in the opening 1:03. Katelyn Sherman then got AMU on the board with a goal 2:28 into the game. Mackenzie Tourville found the back of the net nearly five minutes in to tie the game at two. Davenport responded with three straight goals to take a 3-1 edge before Tourville netted her second goal to cut the deficit to one, 3-2, with 17:26 to play in first. Tourville, Libby Welsh, and Sherman each found the back of the net in the final 15 minutes of the half to make the score 7-6 at the break in favor of Davenport. The Panthers increased their lead to 10-6 early in the second half before Tourville and Georgia Miller each scored to bring AMU back to within two. After a couple goals by Davenport, Stephanie Hilker scored on a free position shot to make the score 12-9. Davenport added a couple late goals to make the final 15-9. Freshman Bianca Ballarin made 18 saves in net for AMU to limit the high-scoring Davenport offense. Ballarin was named to the NAIA Women’s Lacrosse National Invitational All-Tournament Team, the NAIA announced after the National Championship game. Ballarin, a native of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, limited the high-scoring Davenport offense to 15 goals by making 18 saves in their opening round match-up. She also grabbed three ground balls and caused one turnover. Tourville finished with a team-high four goals and an assist. Sherman had two goals on four shots. Jessica Lemcke led Davenport with a game-high seven goals on 19 shots. Davenport out-shot Ave Maria 47-24 but held only a slight edge on ground balls and draw controls.