ST. PAUL – For the second straight year, top-ranked St. Thomas is the champion of the Upper Midwest Lacrosse Conference tournament after the Tommies fought off Minn.-Duluth, 9-7, on Sunday afternoon. The game was original scheduled for Mahtomedi, Minn., but had to be moved to a dome in West St. Paul because of inclement weather.
With the victory, St. Thomas (14-0) automatically qualifies for the 2016 MCLA National Championships powered by Under Armour for the 11th consecutive season. The nationals will be held from May 9-14 in Orange County, Calif. Duluth (7-7) will be eligible for an at-large bid.
The game got off to a somnambulant start. Senior middie Simon Gondeck scored in the first quarter for the Tommies, but that was the extent of the scoring in the first 15 minutes. The second was slightly more exciting as rookie middie Mark Dowdle netted a pair of goals to give UST a 4-0 edge at the break.
Duluth finally woke up in the second half, opening the third with a pair of goals to halve the lead. The Bulldogs eventually pulled to within a goal, 5-4, but Gondeck answered with his third and fourth goals of the game to balloon the lead back to 7-4.
The Bulldogs made one last late-game push, trimming the margin to 8-7, but an empty-net goal with a minute to play put the final margin at 9-7.
2016 UMLC Division II Tournament Results
Quarterfinals – Friday, April 22
#1 St. Thomas d. #8 North Dakota, 25-1
#4 St. John’s d. #5 MSU-Mankato, 11-2
#2 North Dakota State d. #7 St. Cloud State, 16-9
#3 Minn.-Duluth d. #6 Winona State, 16-3
Semifinals – Saturday, April 23
#1 St. Thomas d. #4 St. John’s, 7-4
#3 Minn.-Duluth d. #2 North Dakota State, 7-6 (2ot)
Finals – Sunday, April 24
#1 St. Thomas d. #3 Minn.-Duluth, 9-7