Strong ties to Port Coquitlam have helped the University of Indianapolis (UIndy) win its first NCAA Div. II women’s field lacrosse national championship.
The third-ranked Greyhounds defeated top-seeded East Stroudsburg 11-9 in last Sunday’s (May 22) final at Harlen C. Hunter Stadium in St. Charles, Mo.
The team is coached by former PoCo Saint James Delaney and features four Riverside Secondary grads on its roster, including junior Quinn Malcolm, who was named to the championship’s all-tournament team.
The other locals are freshman Rachel Lambert, junior Christina Sato and redshirt sophomore Amy Vegh.
Delaney said the talent pipeline back to his hometown has proved a perfect fit for the style of lacrosse the Greyhounds like to play.
“We play a unique style that encompasses the women’s game, the men’s game and the box game all into one,” he told the Tri-City News.
“Our players from British Columbia have all fit in perfectly since they stepped on campus.”
Of course, Delaney’s own lacrosse trajectory from the concrete floor at the old PoCo Rec Centre where he played box lacrosse as a youth, to playing the field game at St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby and then on to NCAA lacrosse at Seton Hill University in Ohio, where he was the highest scoring midfielder in the school’s history, makes him uniquely qualified to transform box players to top performers on the field.
“I think the box lacrosse game teaches so many amazing techniques, thoughts and skills to being a complete lacrosse player,” Delaney said.
“A lot of my teachings we have here come from the box lacrosse game and are instilled in my players daily.”
A case in point is Malcolm.
In 2017, she helped Team B.C. win the under-16 championship at the Canadian Lacrosse Association female box lacrosse nationals in Halifax, N.S.
As an attacker on the big field at UIndy, she scored 49 goals in 23 games this past season – third best on the team.
Sato contributed 17 goals and 14 assists, while Vegh scored five times.
Delaney said winning only the third NCAA championship for Greyhounds’ teams affirms the wisdom of his approach to lacrosse.
In fact, it’s a title that’s been building for some time.
Since becoming the team’s head coach in 2018, after a year as the Greyhounds’ offensive co-ordinator, Delany led UIndy to a berth in the NCAA championship tournament in his first season, as well as the NCAA midwest regionals in 2019, when he was also named the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference’s (GLIAC) coach of the year.
But, he said, winning a national title is a special feeling.
“The feeling of finally being able to call ourselves National Champions is something that cannot be described or replicated,” Delaney said.
“As the season went along, this group developed a mindset that they would not be denied and came out every day hungrier than the last.”
And that hunger will continue to be fed by local players from the stomping grounds of his youth. Already recruited for next year are Sage Da Silva and Malaena Michielin from Coquitlam.
“As we continue to grow, we continue to go back to our British Columbia pipeline,” Delaney said.
“I think it is just so special to have players that I have strong connections to because of where we grew up.”