May 14, 2016
Dylan Garner had four goals and two assists to help lead Chapman to its first MCLA championship on Saturday on its home field in California. (Dirk Dewachter)
Dylan Garner had four goals and two assists to help lead Chapman to its first MCLA championship on Saturday on its home field in California. (Dirk Dewachter)

Perfection! Chapman, St. Thomas Cap Unbeaten Runs With MCLA Crowns

by Michelle Mendoza | | Twitter

ORANGE, Calif. – From season's beginning to final whistle, the Chapman Panther pack swept through all challengers. In an obvious 9-5 victory over Cal Poly on their very own Wilson field, Chapman took home the gold for the first time, finishing up a 22-0 season in grand fashion.

A rowdy Chapman Stadium crowd itched for action after the scoreless first quarter of the final game between No.1 Chapman and No.2 Cal Poly. The game came finally came alive in the second quarter when Chapman junior Simon Jenkin dominated six out of eight faceoffs against Cal Poly sophomore Austin Lord. His earned possession was welcomed by offensive threats Dylan Garner and Dave Apruzzese who made a combined five goals that Cal Poly's two could not outpace.

"We've been a team that goes on runs this year," said Chapman Head Coach Dallas Hartley, "so once it happens, we're going to go."

Comfortably in control of tempo, the Panthers only had to maintain their lead after the first quarter. Moreover, they discouraged a Mustang team pressured to score.

Senior goalie Gus Gradinger and his defense successfully cleared 92% of the time, denied 16 out of 21 shots, and contributed to 25 ground balls. The keeper's performance was a comeback after being injured for the last three tournament games.

Photo: Dirk Dewachter

"The windows are only open for a quick split second. If the offense doesn't hit those, we rotate quickly and get back. They let me see the shots I want to see opposed to those I don't and that makes all the difference," said Gradinger.

Andrew Laron was able to put two in the net for the Mustangs, but the effort could not bring them within reach of Chapman at all. Apruzzesse and Garner led the way for the Panthers with four goals each.

"We were in it against a better team today," said Cal Poly Head Coach Bobby Dabrieo, "I'm proud of my team for fighting to the end, chipping away at that lead, and battling back."

The game was soundly decided at the close of the third quarter. Cal Poly turnovers cost them the possession they needed to catch up. Jenkin consistently won the ball for Chapman, allowing his teammates to wind down the clock unpressured. The Chapman defense delivered on their end as well.

"I think we saved our best defense of the year for the last game," said Hartley, "The boys were focused, they played well individually, and we played well as a team."

Stylish Chapman offense kept the ball away for the last minutes of game. The Panthers prevailed 9-5 in definite victory.

Jenkin, who was was named MVP of the game said, "Being on an undefeated team is something special and I can't really put it to words yet. We've always said we wanted to do it from the start, but to actually do it is another thing in itself. We won the SLC's but everyone said that wasn't enough. This has been the one main goal on our minds."

Photo: Michael Farrel

Gondeck Leads Tommies to Fifth Championship

ORANGE, Calif. – Game MVP Simon Gondeck surged St. Thomas ahead of Grand Valley State 10-7 to claim the Under Armor 2016 DII MCLA National Championship.

At the top of the first half the Tommies broke onto the scoreboard with two assisted goals from Dan Burke and Andrew Sotis. On the other end, their defense could not match the effort. Grand Valley owned the rest of the half with five unanswered goals, including a hat trick by junior Brady O'Brien.

"Both sides had to step it up," said St. Thomas coach Brian Gross. Defensively we had to make some scheme adjustments. But on the offensive side, we had to be a little bit more patient, give the defense a rest, get longer possession so we didn't have to play more defense."

Unphased, the Tommies held Grand Valley to only two goals for the rest of the game, making necessary adjustments to see net past Laker goalie Kyrn Stoddard and keep offensive threat Seth Kuehnl to an uncharacteristic lone goal.

Gondeck lit the tail of the game on fire with four goals and an assist, three of which were scored in the last five minutes. The St. Thomas lead was unshakeable with no time left and overwhelming offensive possession.

"We had to go out with a W," said Gondeck, "We had to put the pedal down and just got it done."

The Tommies take their 5th MCLA National Championship title after six tournament appearances and complete a perfect undefeated season.

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