Seeds Set for US Lacrosse Girls' U15 National Championship
Erin O'Shaughnessy of Coyotes Fusion (Colo.) and Lily Jones of Lax Maniax (Fla.) race upfield during their game on day 1 of the 25-team US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited. O'Shaughnessy had two goals in the Coyotes' 8-7 win.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Seven teams survived the first day of the US Lacrosse Girls' U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, unbeaten at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, setting the stage for the start of the 25-team single-elimination bracket tomorrow.
Two-time defending national champion Yellow Jackets Team 1 (N.Y.) earned the top seed, cruising past Be More Lax (Md.), Triple Threat National (Calif.) and Lonestar (Texas). The Long Island Liberty (N.Y.), Yellow Jackets Team 2, Long Island Top Guns (N.Y.) and Top of the Bay (Md.) round out the top five seeds, each with a 3-0 record. Cardinal (Va.) and the StickBenders (Fla.) each posted 2-0-1 marks on the day.
"We saw a lot of good connections and players starting to read off each other, so we're going to try to build on that," said Top of the Bay coach Krystin Porcella.
Top of the Bay got four goals from Grace Richards in a 15-6 win over Lax Maniax (Fla.) to round out the day, which was interrupted late by a thunderstorm.
"We're trying to have some players work around and off of her a little more, because people are going to start to focus on her," Porcella said.
Earlier in the day, a nailbiter between the Top Guns, who reached the semifinals last year, and Sky Walkers 2015 Blue (Md.) ended in dramatic fashion. With the score tied at 7 and the Top Guns with the ball, Nicole Levy fed Samantha Apuzzo near the top of the 8-meter arch, and Apuzzo turned and buried a right-corner shot as time expired.
Four players return from Yellow Jackets Team 1's national champion team of a year ago, and their experience showed. Sydney Pirreca had three goals and two assists in a 13-3 win over Triple Threat. Nikki Ortega scored two in the 14-4 win over Be More Lax.
But while teams from the sport's traditional strongholds had their way, those from growing states took advantage of the opportunity to position themselves for a run at the national championship.
Rachel Cowan, a rising eighth grader, had four goals and one assist to rally Coyotes Fusion (Colo.) to a 12-8 win over Desert Heat (Ariz.), locking up the 11th seed. She scored four straight goals to help Coyotes Fusion, which won the US Lacrosse Central Regional Championship in Arlington, Texas, last month, turn a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead. The game remained close until two late goals from Erin O'Shaughnessy scored twice to help seal it for the Fusion.
"Rachel's goals were critical at the time that she got them," said Coyotes Fusion coach Danny Cisneros. "We could've been down even more if she didn't keep us in the game."
Coyotes Fusion joined US Lacrosse Southeast Regional Champion StickBenders (Fla.) and US Lacrosse West Regional Champion NorCal Elite Green as automatic qualifiers into this championship. The StickBenders earned the No. 7 seed and NorCal Elite Green earned the No. 9 seed, just one slot ahead of the NorCal Elite Blue squad that participated last year. Former University of California coach Theresa Sherry is involved with both, joining the Top Guns' Shannon Smith and Liberty's Danielle Gallagher among prominent coaches with teams here.
While some of the stalwarts may be the favorites, don't rule out the newcomers yet.
"This is a great experience," Cowan said. "I'm excited to be playing other teams, especially the teams from the East. It's a whole other level here. We've worked together since elementary school to win something like this and to be here. If we play well, we'll deserve it, but there's a lot of work ahead."
Seeds for bracket:
1. Yellow Jackets Team 1 (3-0)
2. LI Liberty (3-0)
3. Yellow Jackets Team 2 (3-0)
4. LI Top Guns (3-0)
5. Top of the Bay (3-0)
6. Cardinal (2-0-1)
7. StickBenders (2-0-1)
8. Sky Walkers 2015 Blue (2-1)
9. Nor Cal Elite Green (2-1)
10. Nor Cal Elite Blue (2-1)
11. Coyotes Fusion (2-1)
12. Triple Threat (1-1-1)
13. Be More Lax (1-1-1)
14. Lax Maniax (2-2)
15. North Carolina (1-2)
16. Pacific Falcons Blue (1-2)
17. Houston (1-2)
18. Lightning (1-2)
19. Coast2Coast Nor Cal (1-2)
20. Desert Heat (0-3)
21. Connecticut Dodgers (0-3)
22. Utah (0-3)
23. Lonestar (0-3)
24. Washington State (0-3)
25. Eagle Stix Atlanta (0-3)