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July 28, 2013

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Go West: 3d Select Wins US Lacrosse U15 National Championship

By Paul Krome and Brian Logue | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay | Scoreboard

Alec Barnes won 14 of 18 faceoffs and added a goal and two assists to lead 3d Select National to a 10-4 win over the Long Island Express Barracudas (N.Y.) in the gold medal game of the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. With players mainly from Colorado and California, 3d Select became the first Western program to win in the five-year history of the championship.
©Scott McCall

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Alec Barnes has been facing off since he started playing lacrosse in the second grade, but a summer of work on the craft helped second-seeded 3d Select National make history at the US Lacrosse Boys' U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Barnes won 14 of 18 faceoffs and a stingy defense held top-seeded Long Island Express Barracudas (N.Y.) scoreless for 30:31 as 3d Select became the first Western-based team to win the gold medal in the five-year history of the event with a 10-4 defeat of the defending champions in the title game Sunday. 3d Select, with most of its players from Colorado and California, completed a 7-0 run through the field that included two wins over For the Love of the Game (N.Y.) and a 10-7 defeat of third-seeded Dukes HHH (Pa.) in the semifinals.

"This is huge, knowing that the West is rising and we're making a huge impact on lacrosse," said Barnes, a rising sophomore at Regis Jesuit (Colo.) High School. "We're as good as everyone else."

Or better. Barnes spent a part of the summer learning and honing techniques from Fogolax owner and director Matt Schomburg, and the results showed. He won six of eight in the first half and eight of 10 in the second half against the Barracudas' combination of Sam Nadjari and Kyle Portera.

"All I do really is clamp, try to pinch the ball in the stick and pop it out to start a break," Barnes said.

Barnes added two assists in the first half, and his off-balance feed to Keaton Komatz with 2:19 left in the first quarter gave 3d Select a 2-1 lead it would not surrender. When Barnes didn't win a faceoff or if 3d Select turned it over, its defense went to work. After yielding a goal to Daniel Rooney with 6:23 left in the first quarter – one which he bounced off Jimmy Littlefield – 3d Select shut down the Barracudas' potent offense until 5:52 remained in the game, well after the outcome had been decided. Defenseman Will Weitzel joined goalie Otto Bohan on the Lacrosse Magazine All-Tournament Team (below) from 3d.

"We didn't try to throw too many checks. We really tried to play body and move guys out," said Weitzel, a rising sophomore at Roxbury Latin (Mass.), one of a handful of New Englanders to team up with 3d's Western programs in the organization's second entry into the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship. "We got all the ground balls, and that's what wins games."

Komatz's second goal in the first half delivered a spirit-crusher. 3d Select ran off most of the last two minutes before Komatz got the ball goal-line extended on the right side, evaded Noah Knopf on a drive, and scored with 25 seconds left to give 3d Select a 5-1 lead. Barnes had a hand in the third-quarter knockout, dodging under Knopf and Kyle Portera on the crease for an unassisted goal at 9:07, then winning the ensuing faceoff. He fed Sean O'Keefe who quickly fed Henry Adams for a 7-1 lead just 11 seconds later.

"We got dominated on the faceoffs and they were hungrier to get to the ground balls that we couldn't get," said Express Barracudas coach Mike Chanenchuk, whose team uncharacteristically struggled to maintain possession once it got the ball. "I would estimate that in the 40-minute game we had the ball maybe seven minutes."

Express got late goals from Matt Gavin and Ryan Rogers – Gavin's left-handed score at 5:52 ending the 30-minute drought – but it was not enough. At the buzzer, 3d Select players stormed the field and celebrated their national championship. They were formally presented with their gold medals at an awards ceremony after the finale.

"For this group of 23 kids to come together and battle through three days of heat and tough, great competition and see it pay off with the national championship is just incredible," said 3d Select co-coach Kevin O'Brien. "It was such a cool experience for these boys, and something they'll never forget."

Third-Place Game: FCA (Md.) 12, Dukes HHH (Pa.) 4
Balanced scoring fueled FCA's 12-4 defeat of Dukes HHH for the bronze medal. Christian Ford scored twice in the first half to help FCA assume a 5-1 lead. After Dukes made it 6-3 midway through the second, Forry Smith scored the second of his two goals on a pass from Cole Williams at 10:44. Cal Costa led FCA with one goal and three assists, while four players scored for Dukes. Mike Clibanoff made seven saves for Dukes, which reached the final four for the first time.

Semifinal: Long Island Express Barracudas (N.Y.) 15, FCA (Md.) 5
Matt Gavin scored the Long Island Express Barracudas' first four goals and Daniel Rooney had three goals and three assists as the Barracudas ran away from FCA, 15-5, in a matchup of programs that met in the 2012 final. Sam Nadjari provided the Barracudas with an advantage in faceoffs, and defensemen Daniel Confort and Matthew Makowski held Maryland commit Preston Faecher scoreless and Johns Hopkins commit Forry Smith to one goal, respectively, in a game that turned in a decisive second quarter. With his team down 2-1 after one, Gavin scored three straight unassisted goals to continue a 7-0 run. Daniel Rooney handed out consecutive assists to Kyle Portera and Nigel Andrews (3g), and Andrews scored again at 3:18 to put the Barracudas up 7-2. Smith converted a feed from Sam Harnisch to stop the bleeding with an extra-man goal, but Long Island answered with goals six seconds apart in the final minute of the half. Barracuda goalies James Ranieri and Gavin Tam split the game, and each made five saves.

Semifinal: 3d Select (Colo.) 10, Dukes HHH (Pa.) 7
3d Select had to overcome some early adversity in a 10-7 defeat of Dukes HHH to advance to its first championship game. 3d was trailing 1-0 after one quarter and then got hit with a three-minute non-releasable penalty for an illegal stick to start the second quarter. Dukes cashed in with two extra-man goals to move in front 3-0. Dukes still led 4-3 at the half, but 3d held Dukes scoreless for a span of more than 14 minutes from late in the second quarter to early in the fourth quarter to take a 7-4 lead. Dukes rallied, cutting the lead to one on two separate occasions in the final quarter, the last coming with 2:05 left on Jake Martelucci's outside shot. Dukes won the ensuing faceoff, but a huge takeaway check and groundball by 3d's Charlie Leonard switched the possession, and 3d's Sean O'Keefe was able to net two empty-net goals in the final minute to seal the win for 3d. O'Keefe led 3d with five goals while Winston Palmeri and Henry Adams each added two goals. Palmeri's third-quarter goals tied the game at 4 and gave 3d its first lead of the game at 5-4, a lead it would not relinquish. Bret Baskin led Dukes with three goals, while Mike Fay added two goals and Matt Moore had two assists.

Lacrosse Magazine All-Tournament Team
A – Henry Adams, 3d Select
A – Matt Gavin, Long Island Express Barracudas
A – Ryan Rogers, Long Island Express Barracudas
M – Alec Barnes, 3d Select
M – Steve Cuccurullo, Long Island Express Turtles
M – Tyler Will, FCA
D – Daniel Confort, Long Island Express Barracudas
D – Will Weitzel, 3d Select
D – Jordan Young, Dukes HHH
G – Otto Bohan, 3d Select

"Keeper of Lacrosse" Sportsmanship Award
Brady's Bunch (Calif.) 


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