On Sunday, the University of Richmond women’s lacrosse team successfully defended its 2018 conference championship title at this year’s Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament in Fairfax, Virginia, winning the tournament in overtime against the University of Massachusetts.

The team started off the season strong with a 7-1 record by mid-March, and continued the streak to end the regular season with 14 wins and only three losses. The team was tied for the third seed in the A-10 tournament, after a close 12-13 overtime loss against UMass in the regular season.

“Overall, we’ve had a really good season,” said head coach Allison Kwolek before the tournament began. “I think the most important thing is that they’ve shown they’ve been getting better and better, and I keep talking about how it's important to peak now, as we head into the A-10 tournament, and I felt like they’ve shown that.”

Kwolek was pleased to see the team moving the ball really well this season, and was excited for its first game of the tournament on Thursday against Duquesne University, she said. 

The team was optimistic going into its first game, and senior captain Marissa Brown said that the team was feeling confident entering the tournament to defend its A-10 win last year.

“I think everyone’s really excited," Brown said before the tournament. “We won last year so we’re defending our title, and I think that’s something that everyone is super pumped about for this weekend. Last year gave us some confidence, but we know that it’s a new year and we need that focus that we had last year and just think about it as a totally different tournament.”

The Spiders beat Duquesne 20-8 in the first round of the tournament and immediately began preparing for their next game the following day against George Mason University. The team was excited for a rematch after an 8-9 overtime loss in the regular season, said Mia Castagnero, another senior captain. 

“After Duquesne, we will be playing George Mason on Friday, and then we don’t know who we’ll see in the championship yet," Castagnero said. "[George Mason] should be a good game because we lost to them in overtime in regular season, and so we’re excited to finally get revenge.”

The Spiders defeated George Mason on Friday in a decisive 19-4 victory, and moved on to the A-10 finals on Sunday against top-seeded UMass. UMass had been the A-10 champion nine years in a row before UR’s victory last year, Castagnero said. Still, she said the team hadn’t been feeling too nervous to compete.

“There’s definitely nerves going up to the game when we’re preparing,” Castagnero said. “But we’re pretty confident and excited to get a win, and then as soon as the game starts those nerves usually go away and we just continue to play with what we’ve been doing basically our whole life.” 

This attitude paid off for the team. The Spiders played UMass on Sunday, April 28, and won 19-18 with an overtime goal coming from redshirt sophomore Sam Geiersbach. 

For the second-straight year, UR's women's lacrosse team is the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament champion. The victory gives Richmond an automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA women's lacrosse tournament.

15 teams receive automatic bids by winning their respective conference tournaments, and 13 teams are given at-large bids by the tournament committee, according to the NCAA website.

The seedings and bracket will be released at 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, at which point UR will learn its next opponent.

Contact contributor Andy Erickson at andrew.erickson@richmond.edu.