U15 Girls Set Final Four at US Lacrosse Southeast Regional Championship
Sophie Baez helped Eagle Stix Atlanta (Ga.) rally from an early 3-0 deficit to defeat Thunderbird 2016 HALO (Ga.), 10-7, in the girls' U15 quarterfinals at the US Lacrosse Southeast Regional Championship, Powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, Saturday in Raleigh. Eagle Stix will play top-seeded Stickbenders (Fla.) in an 8 a.m. semifinal Sunday.
RALEIGH, N.C. – It took some time to determine, but the final four of the girls' under-15 division at the US Lacrosse Southeast Regional Championship, Powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, is now set.
Both of Saturday afternoon's quarterfinal games started out as close affairs.
Georgia was on the mind in the first contest. Fourth-seeded Thunderbird 2016 HALO (Ga.) opened with three unanswered goals for the early lead. Led by the efforts of Courtney Hutchinson and Sophie Baez, fifth-seeded Eagle Stix Atlanta rallied for four goals of their own just minutes later to take a one-goal lead at 4-3.
Anna Scartz provided the response for Thunderbird to knot the score at 4 before a score by Hannah Demis of Eagle Stix with 45 seconds remaining in the half gave her team a one-goal advantage heading into the break.
The Eagle Stix carried that momentum over into the second half, as Baez raced up the field, split a pair of defenders and scored to make it 6-4 just 20 seconds into the period. While the Thunderbird struggled to find the net over the next several possessions, the Eagle Stix punched in two more goals to take an 8-4 advantage with 17:15 remaining in the game.
But Thunderbird would not go down in this in-state matchup without a fight, adding a pair of scores with less than five minutes to go to cut the deficit to two at 8-6. But Demis and Peyton Smith both netted goals in the final two minutes to lead the Eagle Stix to a 10-7 win.
"I think we played really well, especially attack riding and just re-defending," Eagle Stix goalkeeper Bridget Deehan said. "I'm just super excited because our team is younger than the rest and we fought to the top."
Demis, Baez and Hutchinson notched two goals apiece in the Eagle Stix victory, while Deehan turned in a strong performance in goal.
"This was a fantastic event," Eagle Stix coach David Winsness said. "There was incredible sportsmanship on the U15 level. This was a fantastic win for our team."
In the second afternoon contest, third-seeded Hotlanta and sixth-seeded Team Houston were tied at 3 midway through the first period after Hotlanta took an early 2-0 lead. Houston found itself playing catch-up the entire contest, tying it up again at 4 after a goal by Hotlanta's Alexandra Scierka with 9:42 to play in the first half had given the Georgians a brief lead.
However, Hotlanta closed the period on a mini-run, using goals by Megan Dreyer, Sophie Kopec and Mary Kate Korbisch to claim a 7-4 advantage at the break.
Hotlanta continued to turn up the offensive intensity in the second half, netting three unanswered goals to make it 10-4 with 14:20 to go. The squad also displayed a strong effort on the defensive end of the field, with goalkeepers Mackenzie Dent and Kaitlyn Shipskie both impressive in splitting time between the pipes. After coming up empty on several possessions, Team Houston finally broke through at the 10-minute mark, as midfielder Georgia Arnold scored to cut it to 10-5. Teammate Ann Dodson followed with another goal less than three minutes later, making it a four-goal game.
Korbisch tallied her second goal of the day to end Houston's rally and cap an 11-6 victory for Hotlanta.
"Offensively, we definitely spread out the ball more in our transition," Hotlanta coach Niki Erderly said. "Our transition really is what helped us be consistent today. We were making outside passes, not looking into the middle and we were catching the ball."
Dreyer and Korbisch led Hotlanta with multi-goal performances, while Arnold and Dodson netted two goals each for Houston in the loss.
"Our passes were a lot better [this afternoon]," Hotlanta's Hannah Sacristan said. "This morning, we didn't do that well, and we worked on everything that we messed up on this morning and we came through. I thought we did awesome."
With the win, Hotlanta advances to Sunday's semifinals to face in-state rival and second-seeded Lightning Lacrosse. Eagle Stix will take on the top-seeded Stickbenders (Fla.) in the other semifinal, with both games scheduled for 8 a.m. Meanwhile, Houston and Thunderbird will meet in a consolation contest. The U15 Girls Championship Game will draw at noon.
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