Riverhawks women’s lacrosse wins national championship


Courtesy of the NJCAA

The Riverhawks women’s lacrosse squad wins the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship for the first time since 2007. The Riverhawks’ two other national titles were in 2006 and 2007.

Dan Elson, Sports Editor

The Riverhawks women’s lacrosse team dumped a bucket of water on head coach Jim Griffiths yesterday and stormed the field after winning the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship game 14-11 against the Onondaga Community College Lazers.

The Riverhawks finished the 2023 season undefeated for the first time in 16 years. In the 2007 season, the Riverhawks won it all and finished 19-0, including playoff games. 

“So there was a lot of pressure [to remain] undefeated,” Griffiths said. “There’s a lot of pressure to win and I thought they handled it really well yesterday.”

The team, which also won the NJCAA national title in 2006, now has three championship trophies. Since 2004, the Riverhawks, which finished the 2023 season 10-0, has competed in seven NJCAA championship games in its history.

Griffiths said the two undefeated seasons in his career “means I have good players who work hard and listen. That’s great; don’t get me wrong, but it’s a tribute to the players. … They do all the little things they need to do and [it] makes you feel good. But at the end of the day it’s about them.” 

Athletic Director Duane Herr said the moment when the team won it all was “surreal.”

“It’s my first national championship in my role,” Herr said. “So that was emotional for me and [I’m] just proud of all that they did. … They certainly celebrated as they should [when they] ran out and embraced each other.”

Midfielders Julia Sokolowski and tournament offensive MVP Lyndsey Miller led the Riverhawks in scoring and assists in the three postseason games. Sokolowski scored 21 goals and had seven assists and Miller scored 20 goals and assisted on eight.

“They both played really well,” Griffiths said. “But then they played really well all year. They obviously are leading scorers. They both played really well all weekend. [Midfielder] Savanna Reitz had an amazing weekend on the draw. She basically dominated the draws on both days. Let’s face it, you can’t score without the ball, and possession was the key and she was a big part of that. [Midfielder] Nellie Gownley also had a really really big weekend. She scored three goals yesterday.” 

The Riverhawks lost to the Lazers 22-15 in the 2022 NJCAA semifinals. Reitz called this victory against them “redemption.”

“It feels great,” Reitz, a second-year business student, said. “We played them last year and we lost and just getting to play them again and really getting that redemption was really cool.”

Miller, a first-year business student, said this season “just shows that our team was just working so well together and that everything throughout the season has led us to finish that off with our final win.”

Sokolowski, a first-year transfer studies student, said she’ll look back on the title win years from now.

“It was definitely unexpected for a couple of us to be playing this year here,” Sokolowski noted. “And it just all kind of came together and worked out. It’s a good memory.”