JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Setting records is nothing new for Jacksonville University women's lacrosse; in fact, the #1 seed Dolphins set four ASUN Conference Tournament Championship records and matched two more in a high-scoring affair with #2 Coastal Carolina as the Dolphins outpaced the Chanticleers, 25-19, en route to their second-straight and fourth overall ASUN Tournament crown, Saturday afternoon at D.B. Milne Field.
As a team, Jacksonville set new ASUN Tournament records in goals (25), points (40), while the teams' 44 combined goals far surpassed the previous league record of 32 in a tournament game.
Tournament MVP and reigning ASUN Player of the Year Ashtyn Hiron finished the day with a record 11 draw controls, and tied the record with five caused turnovers. All-Tournament Team selection and freshman Sarah Elms matched the tournament record with nine points (7 goals, 2 assists).
The duo also added program records to their list of accomplishments on the day, as Hiron's eight points (4g, 4a) lifted her to a single-season record of 91, while Elms' nine points match the Dolphins' single-game record. Along with Hiron and Elms, All-Tournament Team selection and freshman Alyssa Arnold became the third Dolphin this season notch eight points with her career-high day of six goals and two assists. The trio combined for 25 of the Dolphins' 40 points.
"That's just hard to stop. You can usually mark out one person, but for three players to compete at that level is really special," stated Head Coach Mindy McCord following the win. "Big on the day for us was Alyssa Arnold; we talked to our crease players about being a threat and working to score and she was a big reason for that."
"We put in some adjustments and the team really took their game to another level in in the second half," added Associate Head Coach Paul McCord. "I'm very proud of these guys."
The trio got the Dolphins' on the board early, with Hiron (28:07), Arnold (27:47), and Elms (27:36) finding the back of the net within seconds of each other. With two of the next three goals, Coastal Carolina cut its deficit to two, 4-2.
Finding its spark, the Dolphins used a 7-1 run – highlighted by four points from Hiron and three from Arnold – to extend their lead to 11-3 with 11:09 on the clock. Though the Chanticleers recorded four of the next five, Jacksonville had the final say in the half as Elms dished to sophomore Olivia Alvarez with seven seconds remaining to give the host Dolphins a 13-7 lead at halftime.
Jacksonville continued its offensive assault despite the visitors posting the first tally of the second half. Elms posted back-to-back goals, with her second assisted by Hiron at 26:24, while freshman Jenny Kinsey added a third less than a minute later at 25:13.
Coastal then went on a tear with six of the next eight goals to cut the Dolphins' lead to just four, 18-14, with 13:56 to play. Not to be outdone, Jacksonville fired off a 4-0 run with goals from All-Tournament Team pick and junior MacEllen McDonough (13:09), Elms (11:55), Arnold (10:43), and Elms again (9:26) to regain a comfortable 22-14 lead.
"We made a couple adjustments with Alyssa's game and she capitalized. Sarah is just an unstoppable force; she's first all-time scoring as a freshman now," added Paul McCord. "They both take constructive criticism, make adjustments, and get better as the game goes on. Ashtyn's probably the best two-way midfielder in the country; to have that kind of production, then have MacEllen come in the second half when they started to pressure out more and find holes on 3-for-3 shooting."
Coastal Carolina hit a stride with a 5-0 run in the waning nine minutes in one final effort to pressure the Dolphins. The Chanticleers came as close as 22-19 with 5:01 left, and the Dolphins slammed the door with the final three goals from Arnold (2:45), McDonough (1:25), and Elms (0:48) to seal Jacksonville's fifth ASUN Tournament title and second-straight crown.
"We had good momentum in the first half, but [Coastal's 5-0 run with nine minutes left in the second half] felt tight. We didn't make adjustments on defense and we threw a lot at [Coastal Carolina]," continued Mindy McCord. "They were just very efficient; I have to give them credit. They really competed and they're very well-coached. Those players competed for 60 minutes with us. These kinds of games help whichever team moves on to be more successful in the postseason."
The Dolphins outpaced the Chanticleers in shots (49-33), ground balls (30-16), and draw controls (24-23), and turned the ball over just nine times compared to CCU's 20.
McDonough (3g), junior Lillie Miller (1g, 2a), and senior Erin McGuire (1g, 2a) all posted three-point performances on the day, while graduate student Emily Poelma posted seven saves and split time in the crease with junior Kristen Brunoforte.
"We are so excited for the growth of our program. I feel very blessed; this is hard. It's a long year and everything you do is for the pinnacle of this game to move on," added Mindy McCord. "Not many teams are still playing, so I feel lucky and blessed to be able to continue to coach and for our seniors to continue to play is super special."
Receiving votes in the latest Inside Lacrosse Poll, the Dolphins await their match up for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Selection Show will reveal the tournament's first round pairings and venues on NCAA.com tomorrow, May 6 at 9:30 p.m.
ASUN All-Tournament Team
Ashtyn Hiron - Jacksonville - MVP
Alyssa Arnold - Jacksonville
Erica Beal - Jacksonville
Sarah Elms - Jacksonville
MacEllen McDonough - Jacksonville
Julia Imbo - Coastal Carolina
Sophie Crowther - Coastal Carolina
Haley Kyger - Coastal Carolina
Siena Gore - Kennesaw State
Connor Zophy - Kennesaw State
Lauren Ey - Old Dominion
Sophia Powers - Old Dominion