Sky Walkers Oust Defending Champion Yellow Jackets at US Lacrosse U15 National Championship
Kara Klages scored two goals, including the game-winner, to help eighth-seeded Sky Walkers 2015 Blue (Md.) eliminate top-seeded and two-time defending champion Yellow Jackets Team 1 (N.Y.) in the quarterfinals of the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, Wednesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Eighth-seeded Sky Walkers 2015 Blue (Md.) knocked off top-seeded and two-time defending champion Long Island Yellow Jackets (N.Y.), 14-11, in the quarterfinals of the 2012 US Lacrosse Girls’ U15 National Championship powered by Lacrosse Unlimited.
The Sky Walkers will meet fourth-seeded Long Island Top Guns (N.Y.) in one semifinal in a rematch of a pool play game won by the Top Guns, 8-7, on a goal as time expired. The Top Guns pulled away from Top of the Bay (Md.), 20-8, in the quarterfinals.
The Yellow Jackets program still has a chance to keep its title streak alive as its second team advance to the semifinals where it will meet the Long Island Liberty. The Yellow Jackets Team 2 held off Cardinal (Va.) 10-9 in the quarterfinals, while the Liberty beat the Stickbenders (Fla.), 14-10.
The Sky Walkers trailed by four goals early in the second half, but began to whittle away at the Yellow Jackets’ lead and took advantage of a number of cards assessed to the Yellow Jackets.
“They don’t give up and they work hard,” said Sky Walkers coach Molly McLaughlin. “We never try to count ourselves out.”
The Sky Walkers pulled to within 10-9 on Andie Aldave’s second goal of the game with 16:05 to play. A late hit on that goal gave the Yellow Jackets their sixth card of the game, requiring them to play three players down for the remainder of the game.
Still, the Yellow Jackets kept battling and they took their final lead at 11-10 on Nikki Ortega’s second goal of the game with 13:23 to play. Two minutes later Elizabeth George scored her fourth goal of the game to tie it, and then with 10:34 to play, Kara Klages scored the first of her two goals to give the Sky Walkers a lead they would not relinquish.
George and Miranda Ibello each had four goals for the Sky Walkers, while Kylie Ohlmiller led the Yellow Jackets with five.
The victory set off a euphoric celebration, and sent the Sky Walkers into the semifinals where they will get another crack at the Top Guns.
“We’re not done,” said Scott Liotta, a Sky Walkers coach. “We didn’t come down here to come in third or fourth.”
The Top Guns fell behind 3-1 to Top of the Bay in the early stages of the game, but used a dominant defensive effort in the second half to pull away from a 9-6 halftime lead. The Top Guns allowed just two second half goals. Samantha Geiersbach had two goals and four assists for the Top Guns and Samantha Apuzzo and Nicole Levy each had four goals. Top of the Bay was led by Savannah Buchannan and Grace Richards with three goals.
An all-Long Island affair in the other semifinal pits No. 2 seed Liberty against No. 3 seed Yellow Jackets Team 2.
Yellow Jackets Team 2 held on just long enough to edge No. 6 seed Cardinal (Va.), 10-9, in a quarterfinal, despite holding a two-player advantage for the game’s final 10 minutes due to five yellow cards on Cardinal. Abigail Oster scored two of her three goals in that span to bring Cardinal within 10-9, but despite having three free-position attempts in about a 3-minute span, Cardinal could not solve goalie Anna Tesoriero when it needed to most.
Samantha Geiersbach's six points (2g, 4a) helped the fourth-seeded Top Guns (N.Y.) beat fifth-seeded Top of the Bay (Md.), 20-8, to send the Guns back to the semifinals for the second straight year.
“We were playing too much defense at the end, which was shocking because we were up two men for a while,” said Danielle Skakandi, coach of Yellow Jackets Team 2. “We played a little sloppy, but the girls found a way to get it done. That’s what good teams do – find a way to win when the game’s on the line.”
The Jackets got balance on offense – Michaela Bruno, Katie Hoeg and Taryn Ohlmiller each scored two goals against an otherwise stout Cardinal goalie in Ingrid Boyum, who finished with 12 saves.
With Yellow Jackets Team 1’s loss, the program mantle rests with a squad that’s a conglomerate of three teams and had practiced three times prior to the event.
“It’s exciting for this group,” Skakandi said. “Our girls were going into this knowing that they might have to see [Yellow Jackets Team 1]. Now they’re at ease, knowing that it could be their turn to step up and try to take the championship. And that’s what they’ll try to do.”
In the Liberty, the Jackets will face a team that wore down No. 7 seed StickBenders (Fla.), 14-10, denying the US Lacrosse Southeastern Regional Champions a berth in the national final four. Sarah Phillips and Kathryn Hallett each scored three goals for the Liberty, which extended an 8-6 halftime lead thanks in part to some brilliant passing and cutting. Christina Corcoran had two of three Liberty assists, including a nice give-and-go with Lindsey Ronbeck. Corcoran also fed Phillips’ third goal with 11:25 left to give Liberty an insurmountable 13-7 lead.
Hannah Palau had four goals and an assist and Abby Shields scored three goals to lead the StickBenders.
Scores from Wednesday, July 25
No. 8 Sky Walkers 2015 Blue 14, No. 1 Yellow Jackets Team 1 11
No. 2 Long Island Liberty 14, No. 7 StickBenders 10
No. 4 Long Island Top Guns 20, No. 5 Top of the Bay 8
No. 3 Yellow Jackets Team 2 10, No. 6 Cardinal 9
No. 4 Long Island Top Guns (N.Y.) 17, No. 13 Be More Lax 3
No. 5 Top of the Bay (Md.) 14, No. 12 Triple Threat 3
No. 3 Yellow Jackets Team 2 (N.Y.) 11, No. 14 Lax Maniax 3
No. 6 Cardinal (Va.) 12, No. 11 Coyotes Fusion 10
No. 1 Yellow Jackets Team 1 (N.Y.) 18, No. 16 Pacific Falcons Blue 3
No. 8 Sky Walkers 2015 Blue 24, No. 9 NorCal Elite Green 3
No. 2 Long Island Liberty (N.Y.) 14, No. 15 North Carolina 9
No. 7 StickBenders (Fla.) 15, No. 10 NorCal Elite Blue 10
No. 13 Be More Lax (Md.) 17, No. 20 Desert Heat (Ariz.) 7
No. 12 Triple Threat (Calif.) 8, No. 21 Connecticut Dodgers 7
No. 14 Lax Maniax (Fla.) 16, No. 19 Coast2Coast NorCal 4
No. 11 Coyotes Fusion (Colo.) 18, No. 22 Utah 3
No. 16 Pacific Falcons Blue (Calif.) 11, No. 17 Houston (Texas) 8
No. 9 NorCal Elite Green 18, No. 24 Washington State 4
No. 8 Sky Walkers 2015 Blue (Md.) 23, No. 25 Eagle Stix Atlanta (Ga.) 4
No. 15 North Carolina 18, No. 18 Lightning (Ga.) 14
No. 10 NorCal Elite Blue 17, No. 23 Lonestar (Texas) 3
Lax Maniax 11, Be More Lax 5
Coyotes Fusion 6, Triple Threat 5
Washington State 9, Lonestar 8
NorCal Elite Green 9, NorCal Elite Blue 7
North Carolina 9, Pacific Falcons Blue 8
Connecticut Dodgers 10, Utah 4
Desert Heat 8, Coast2Coast NorCal 5
Washington State 10, Eagle Stix Atlanta 9
Lightning 18, Houston 9
Schedule for Thursday, July 26
No. 2 Long Island Liberty vs. No. 3 Yellow Jackets Team 2, 8 a.m.
No. 4 Long Island Top Guns vs. No. 8 Skywalkers 2015 Blue, 8 a.m.
Semifinal winners at noon
THIRD PLACE GAME
Semifinal losers at 11 a.m.
Lightning vs. Connecticut Dodgers, 8 a.m.
Washington State vs. Desert Heat, 8 a.m.
North Carolina vs. Nor Cal Elite Green, 8 a.m.
Lax Maniax vs. Coyotes Fusion, 8 a.m.
Houston vs. Eagle Stix Atlanta, 9:30 a.m.
Utah vs. Coast2Coast Nor Cal, 9:30 a.m.
Lonestar vs. Lightning/Dodgers loser, 9:30 a.m.
Yellow Jackets Team 1 vs. Stickbenders, 9:30 a.m.
Top of the Bay vs. Cardinal, 9:30 a.m.
Pacific Falcons Blue vs. Be More Lax, 11 a.m.
Nor Cal Elite Blue vs. Triple Threat, 11 a.m.
Lightning/Dodgers winner vs. Washigton/Desert Heat winner, 11 a.m.
North Carolina/Nor Cal Green winner vs. Lax Maniax/Coyotes winner, 11 a.m.