By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/23/22
Mekayla Montgomery knew she had made the right choice to spend her graduate years playing lacrosse at the University of Indianapolis the moment she told UIndy coach James Delaney she was coming.
“Yes actually… this was the dream and this was why I came to UIndy!” said Montgomery. “My coach said we were going to win two national championships during my time here, and so far we are on track to do just that!”
Montgomery, a graduate of South Jersey’s Rancocas Valley High, fulfilled half of the dream Sunday when she helped UIndy capture the 2022 NCAA Division II national championship by besting East Stoudsburg, 11-9, at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium in St. Charles, Mo.
The day finished a whirlwind year for Montgomery, who transferred to the Greyhound program after a brilliant career at Hobart & William Smith Colleges where she was a four-time – yes four-time Division III IWLCA All-American defender – and also was a 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 honoree.
Due to COVID-19, Montgomery was granted two extra years of eligibility (some D3 programs were afforded the extra year for each of the past two shortened seasons). After being named a First-Team D3 All-American in 2021, the 5-foot-11, two-time conference Defensive Player of the Year was in high demand in the transfer portal.
This year, Montgomery earned First-Team D2 IWLCA All-American as the Greyhounds avenged their only loss of the year by downing Adelphi, 11-6, in the National semifinals Friday. Against East Stroudsburg, Montgomery had three groundballs and two caused turnovers to lead the defense and earned All-Tournament honors.
“I mean you really can’t describe it,” she said of winning the National Championship. “I want to say I don’t even believe it happened, but I also had faith and confidence in this team from the beginning that we could do it.
“I believe it, but at the same time it doesn’t feel real. I’m so thankful for my team, coaches, parents, sisters, friends, family, God, and everyone who believed in and supported me. It’s crazy to look back on all of the mental, emotional, and physical challenges that I’ve overcome to get to this point. All of the people who didn’t think I was good enough. And all of the times I’ve come so close in the past, but we fell short.
“Every year only one team can have a season doesn’t end in tears, and it’s really a special feeling when you realize you’re that on team.”
Trailing 7-6 late in the third quarter, the Greyhounds sandwiched the final quarter break with a four-goal onslaught from which the Warriors never fully recovered. The Hounds recorded two goals in the final 90 seconds of the third before tacking on two more early in the fourth to build a lead they would not relinquish.
“There were definitely nerves, but our team is built of highly competitive athletes who perform well under pressure,” Montgomery said. “We have also played in high stakes games earlier this season, so we were able to lean on our last success and confidence in our ability come out strong in the second half.
“Our team was so successful for many reasons, the first being that we are extremely polished and disciplined. We don’t make unforced, careless errors. We are careful, thoughtful, disciplined, and we do the right thing.
“Second, every part of our game is strong – we have the best goalies, defenders, attackers, draw team, ride, clear, etc. In order for us to lose, something would have to go drastically wrong in one of those areas.
“Lastly, we have strong team chemistry on and off the field which translates to victories. We play really well together. It takes a special team to win the national championship and it think that’s what we are – special.”
Montgomery has been named an IWLCA All-American four years – in the first shortened COVID season she was a media All-American. Next years she will play again for a Greyhound team that only loses two starters and she’ll get to finish her MBA.
Montgomery finished the year with 7 goals, 2 assists, 56 draws, 38 groundballs and 33 caused turnovers.
Tags: Rancocas Valley