July 22, 2012

Future Blue Devils Shine in Champion Girls' All-American Showcase

by Paul Krome and Brian Logue | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog | Showcase Homepage


Madison Acton, who will enroll at Duke in the fall, scored two goals to help Team Freedom to a 14-5 win over Team Spirit on the first day of the Champion All-American Showcase, a US Lacrosse event, part of the ESPNHS Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Acton graduated from Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.) Regional High and previously helped the 2011 U.S. U19 women's team win a gold medal.

©Scott McCall

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – When Mother Nature relinquished control of the Champion Girls' All-American Showcase, a US Lacrosse event, back to the talented players Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, future Duke University Blue Devils made their presence felt the most.

Emma Lazaroff, a midfielder from Fairview (Colo.) High School headed to Duke this fall, scored three goals and added an assist to lead Team Liberty to a 9-7 victory over Team Pride in a wild game that included an approximately 40-minute delay after sudden wind gusts sent everything from tents to trash cans toppling, and was followed by heavy rain. In the other game, future Blue Devils Madison Acton, a member of the world champion 2011 U.S. U19 team from Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.) Regional, and Kelci Smesko from Ridgewood (N.J.) combined for five goals to pace Team Freedom's 14-5 win over Team Spirit.

Today's action marked the first of eight days of lacrosse at the Walt Disney World Resort, as US Lacrosse has returned the sport to the ESPNHS Games for the third straight year. And somewhere, Duke coach Kerstin Kimel must be smiling.

Acton and Smesko, who frequently squared off against each other during previous summers as members of rival club programs, didn't take long to forge a connection.

"I got the first goal of the game because Kelci set a pick for me," Acton said. "Now that we're really good friends and heading to Duke together, it's fun to play with her."

That was 31 seconds into the game. Less than 3 minutes later, Smesko had scored two goals for a 3-0 Freedom lead, forcing a Spirit timeout. Acton and Smesko weren't the only teammates who started clicking quickly. Team Freedom assisted on seven of its eventual 14 goals.

"To see them come together so quickly is amazing," said Freedom coach Russell Mackey, from Mount Notre Dame (Ohio). "They got it. They were setting screens for each other. The transition was there. They knew when the iso was there from the edge. They heard us or they saw it on their own. It's amazing to coach a bunch of All-Americans."

But midway through the first halves, amazing became just one of several adjectives for the rapidly changing weather.

"That was pretty crazy in the middle of the game with the tent almost hitting us in the face, but it was kind of fun – part of the whole experience," Lazaroff said.

The games were interrupted, then resumed in an abbreviated format. Team Spirit briefly closed to within 5-3 early in the second half, but Team Freedom answered with a nine-goal run fueled by two goals each from Aislinn Probst (Broadneck, Md., and Navy) and Bridget Instrum (Williston Northampton, Mass., and Ohio State). Probst also proved difficult to stop at the draw circle.

Cortney Fortunato, a member of the 2011 U.S. U19 team that won a gold medal at the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship in Germany who also will try out for the U.S. senior team later this month, almost brought the Pride back after Liberty had jumped out to a 4-1 halftime lead.

Fortunato, a rising senior at Northport (N.Y.) High School that has verbally committed to Notre Dame, scored her third goal of the second half to cut Liberty's lead to 6-5 with 10 minutes to play, but Lazaroff answered with two straight goals and Liberty maintained at least a two-goal cushion the rest of the way.

Monday's games begin at 9 a.m.

Liberty 9, Pride 7
Goals: Liberty – Emma Lazaroff 3, Kelly Dolan 2, Lauren Wackerle 2, Nicole Troost, Lydia Cassada. Pride – Cortney Fortunato 3, Gabriella Starkey 2, Rachelle Mariner, Stephanie Toy.
Assists: Liberty – Maggie Bill 2, Emma Lazaroff. Pride – Gabriella Starkey 2, Hannah Saris, Stephanie Toy, Bernadette Leone.

Freedom 14, Spirit 5
Goals: Freedom – Bridget Instrum 3, Kelci Smesko 3, Madison Acton 2, Aislinn Probst 2, Campbell Probert 2, Allyson Heavens, Caroline Fitzgerald. Spirit – Mackenzie Smith 2, Kristina Coppolino, Kelsey Murray, Dene Di Martino.
Assists: Freedom – Carly Palmucci, Christine Easton, Tyler Thomas, Lisa Rogers, Malia Stephens, Aislinn Probst, Adrienne Anderson. Spirit – Stephanie Peragallo.


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