women’s team was tested right away in bracket play at the Intercollegiate Team Championships at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Nebraska, rolling back-to-back games of 125 in the opening round of the bracket.
But Lindenwood would fight back to win that match, and the run through the bracket didn’t end until the Lions beat defending champion McKendree, 3-1, in the title match of the ITC, which was televised on CBS Sports Network on Thursday.
“As we settled into the first month of the season, you could just tell there was something really special about this group,” Lindenwood coach Phil Vida said. “They were committed to the process, to doing the work that was needed. I’m so proud of what we accomplished.”
The Lindenwood women’s team, which won its first title 12 years ago, managed just two strikes in a 191-177 loss in the opening game of the best-of-five title match. But the Lions would escape in Game 2 and never look back.
In the second game, the Lions built an early lead as the Bearcats had three consecutive open frames that included twice missing single-pin spare attempts. But McKendree, seeking to become the first team in 30 years to defend an ITC women’s title, stormed back with four consecutive strikes and needed a mark in the final frame to take a formidable 2-0 lead.
But a 2-10 split and missed spare conversion allowed the Lions to escape with 183-178 victory and tie the match at a game apiece.
“We were huddling, getting ready, because we’ve been down 0-2 before,” Vida said. “When that door was opened a little bit, it was like a wave of confidence came over and we took advantage.”
The Lions would take Game 3, 200-181, and then take the Helmer Cup with a 226-190 victory in Game 4.
“Everything I’ve ever dreamed of for my collegiate career, and how I wanted it to end, it just ended in a perfect way,” said Lions senior anchor Amanda Garavet, who was selected Most Valuable Player of the women’s tournament. “We told each other we could do it and we trust each other.”
Garavet was joined on the women’s all-tournament team by Sacred Heart’s Tori Boughton, McKendree’s Breanna Clemmer, Kayla Crawford of St. Ambrose, and Stephanie Schwartz of Stephen F. Austin.
The path to the title match was not an easy one for Lindenwood, which had to get past two familiar opponents before facing McKendree.
“All through the year, there were two teams we could not beat – Newman and Wichita (State),” Lindenwood senior and lead-off bowler Shelly Goodwin said. “We faced Newman in one of the first matches and we got them, so our confidence was really high. And then we played Wichita and beat them. We had never bowled McKendree, but we went in with a lot of confidence.”
Vida agreed the road to the title match had the Lions well prepared to face the defending champs.
“Though we went through the bracket undefeated, we were very tested by the time we got to the final,” Vida said. “We were ready for a fight and we knew we would have one with McKendree. They are a great program.”
The Lindenwood team consisted of seniors Garavet, Goodwin and McKayla Green, juniors Haley Cummings, Taylor Lee and Dene Standifer, sophomore Merlina San Nicolas, and freshman Serenity Quintero.
The 16 teams in the ITC women’s field bowled 24 Baker qualifying games to determine seeding for the double-elimination match-play bracket. Bracket matches were contested in a best-of-seven Baker format leading up to the finals.
CBS Sports Network will air one more show from the collegiate national championships held at Sun Valley Lanes. The men’s title match of the Intercollegiate Team Championships will air May 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern.
BOWL.com’s BowlTV provided live coverage of the ITC leading up to the televised finals. Click here for more information on the Intercollegiate Team Championships.
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