by Matt Morrison | MCLA.us
ORANGE, Calif. – Home cooking never tasted so delicious as the No. 1 Chapman Panthers devoured the No. 2 Mustangs of Cal Poly, 9-5, to win the Division I title on their home turf at the 2016 MCLA National Championships powered by Under Armour.
After a scoreless first quarter, the top-ranked Panthers blew open a close game late in the first half, scoring five straight goals to put away Cal Poly, with the outcome apparent long before the final whistle.
“It’s great, I’m just so happy for these guys and our seniors that put in a lot of hard work,” said Chapman head coach Dallas Hartley before hoisting the championship trophy. “Our junior and senior classes are just so incredible, they’ve been working so hard all year.”
Chapman completed a perfect 22-0 season with their first national title in their third trip to the finals. The Panthers were runners-up in 2008-09, losing both times to the University of Michigan. Cal Poly was in the championship game for the second time and ended the season 17-2.
Sophomore attackman Noah Garner put Chapman on the board less than a minute into the second quarter and senior Dave Apruzzese made it 2-0 a minute and five seconds later.
Cal Poly answered with goals by sophomore Andrew Laron and freshman A.J. Guralas to tie it before the Panthers hit their stride.
Garner and Apruzzese alternated scoring the next six goals, extending a 5-2 lead at half to 7-2 less than three minutes into the rhird quarter. Junior Wesley Greason, the only other Panther to score, found the net to make it 8-3 heading in to the final period.
Apruzzese made it a six-goal lead early in the fourth with Mustang sophomore John Corbolotti scoring back-to-back goals late to make the final score a little more respectable.
Apruzzese and Garner finished with four goals apiece with Garner also delivering two assists. Championship game MVP honors went to junior Simon Jenkin, who controlled the X, winning 12 of 17 faceoffs.
“We all worked our tails off today,” Garner beamed from the celebration podium. “Our main goal was just go hard the entire from start to finish and attack, everybody. That’s what we did and it paid off, especially getting those extra possessions from (Jenkin) our faceoff guy. It was a great team effort all around.”
“It’s all due to our wings, I couldn’t have done it without them,” deferred the MVP Jenkin. It’s just a team faceoff unit out there. We just work well together and we’re just happy to get it done.”
Chapman becomes the second straight first-time champion in Division I, following Grand Canyon's inaugural title in 2015.