WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- With less than 14 minutes left in yesterday's Colonial Athletic Association women's lacrosse championship against James Madison, Loyola's players apparently thought a five-goal lead would be enough.
They were wrong.
The Dukes rallied behind three goals and an assist from Megan Riley for a stunning 9-8 upset of defending champion Loyola at William and Mary's Barksdale Field.
It was the first conference title for the No. 8-ranked Dukes (12-4), who also came from behind to beat William and Mary, 9-8, in Saturday's semifinal. The Dukes had lost six straight to Loyola, including an 8-6 loss at Curley Field in March.
For the No. 2-ranked Greyhounds (10-2), the loss was the second in five days after they fell to No. 4 Virginia, 7-6, in sudden-death overtime Wednesday.
Loyola appeared to have recovered from the Virginia loss with a 17-6 romp over Old Dominion in Saturday's semifinal and a quick 2-0 start yesterday. But everything fell apart for the Greyhounds after Erin Wylde's goal gave them an 8-3 lead with 13: 36 remaining.
The Dukes called a timeout and emerged a different team. They jumped on the draw and Riley scored two free-position goals in the next 1: 40.
"They didn't see themselves as five goals down. They saw themselves as in the game," said Loyola's Michelle Meyer, the CAA Player of the Year who was named tournament MVP. "Riley is a great little aggressive player and we needed to play a little tighter on her."
Riley, a South River graduate who finished with four goals and two assists, took the ball hard to goal almost every time she got it.
"I noticed when I went in, they'd foul," said Riley. "I tried to get the ball and go and get a foul, at least. I just saw the spaces."
After Shelley Klaes pulled the Dukes within 8-6, Riley scored again on a feed from Jess Marion off the draw. Jessica Kane tied it with 3: 29 left, racing from midfield after a Loyola turnover.
Then Riley, an exceptional feeder, set up the game-winner. Coming around from behind, she whipped a pass to Kane open on the far side. Kane fired it past Loyola keeper Kourtney Heavey with 2: 31 for the Dukes' first lead.
The momentum swing was so complete that the Greyhounds never managed another shot after Wylde closed out their scoring.
"Our lack of patience is killing us," Loyola coach Diane Aikens said. "I told them, `We're up. Play like we're up. Be patient.' When you're up 8-3, there's no reason in the whole wide world to lose, except maybe toward the end James Madison wanted it more than us."