A champion was crowned last weekend, but more importantly, a season is in the books.
The Long Island Sound may have defeated the Boston Storm for the first title in the history of the United Women's Lacrosse League, but the entire league can be satisfied with the conclusion of the inaugural season of play.
Devon Wills, the Sound goalkeeper, won the first ever MVP of the championship and comes full circle after being the first woman to be named to a Major League Lacrosse roster as a former member of the New York Lizards practice roster.
Long Island was crowned the champion after a 13-8 victory over the Storm. Lindsay Scott and Katie Rowan each scored two goals to lead the way for the Sound, who jumped out to a 6-5 lead at the half and never looked back. Boston was able to cut the contest to 9-8, but that was as close as they would come as Long Island pulled away.
Professional lacrosse has had a tumultuous run as it is, with several men's lacrosse league attempts never getting off the ground. The North American Lacrosse League, American Lacrosse League, United States Lacrosse League, and Professional Lacrosse League, to name a few, did not get past one season, if at all. Despite the odds stacked against a pro league, the UWLX season was a hit, being receptive to its audience and truly being the top level of talent in its sport.
Before UWLX, the highest level of lacrosse after college is the international level, but having a professional league allows many players more of an opportunity to play.
Both semi final games were postponed after the Sound and Philadelphia Force had begun their game the day before due to lightning, making the championship weekend a one day affair. Despite the change in plans, the event still went off without a hitch.
Year one of UWLX saw teams play mostly without home venues, though markets in Philadelphia, New England, and Baltimore were used. Going into the second season of league play, establishing home stadiums and fanbases would be a crucial point.
Now that the league has gotten through its first season, the future might be bright for the fledgling league. Sponsorships should be easier to attain now that a backbone has been established. More exposure on networks that don't have a paywall could be another start, and the media presence from several lacrosse media outlets already were top notch in just the first season.
Along with league stability, the first year of action displayed a different way the sport is played. A faster paced game, which included a shot clock and two point line, was received well by women's lacrosse fans. Fans of the college game got a sneak peak of the shot clock, which will make its debut at the NCAA level in the women's game next season. (Men's NCAA lacrosse approved the use of a shot clock first in 2015.)
Now it's just about sustaining, something that more than one lacrosse league has struggled to do.