Green Machine, Wildcat Elite Take US Lacrosse
|Green Machine (Ind.) attackman
Cameron Bender scored a goal and added two assists in his team's
U15 boys' championship game win.
© Neil Ament
Five teams earned gold medals at Sunday’s US Lacrosse Central Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, including a clean sweep on the boys' side for Green Machine (Ind.) U15, U13 and U11 squads. On the girls’ side, Wildcat Elite (Ill.) and Flow 24/7 (Fla.) took home the U15 and U13 titles, respectively, at the tournament held at Reddan Soccer Park in Madison, Wis.
Sunday play was highlighted by semifinal matchups at the U15 level between eight teams who on Saturday earned invites to next month’s US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, July 26-28 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Green Machine (Ind.) Preaches ‘We Ball’, Sweeps Boys Divisions
Top-seeded DC (Wis.) Capitals and second-seeded Green Machine (Ind.) had been on a collision course all weekend entering Sunday’s U15 boys’ championship game, having posted unbeaten records through pool and bracket play. On this day, Green Machine attackman Seth Mendell was determined to will his team through to Florida as Central regional champions.
Mendell scored four goals and added one assist as Green Machine pulled away to defeat DC Capitals 12-5. Despite winning the faceoff battle 13-5 and getting solid performances from midfielder Dominic Sabbarese (two goals) and goalie Alex Jones (12 saves), the DC Capitals were unable to recover from a second-quarter run that saw Green Machine rattle off four goals (two extra-man) in just over seven minutes for a 6-2 halftime lead.
Green Machine was able to exploit one-on-one matchups and score timely transition goals, two keys to the game as noted by Capitals coach Kevin Bice prior to the game. While the Capitals were able to extend their defense in a dominating 14-0 semifinal win over Shear Lacrosse (Wis.), the Madison-based outfit opted for a more controlled style against the ultra-athletic Green Machine.
“We’re just really deep,” said Danny Gray, coach of the Green Machine. “We have a next-man-up mentality.”
The game was the closest of the weekend for Green Machine, which piled up 92 goals against only 11 in six games over the three-day tournament.
Mendell was quick to deflect credit for the win to his teammates.
“We moved the ball pretty well and played ‘we ball’ instead of ‘me ball’,” he said.
They’ll have an opportunity to test their mettle against the nation’s best at next month’s US Lacrosse U15 National Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, after earning free registration with a win Sunday.
In the U13 boys’ division, top-seeded Green Machine handily defeated the third-ranked Minnesota Lakers 14-3 behind a balanced scoring attack, with nine players recording goals. The third-ranked Green Machine U11 boys made it a clean sweep for the Hoosier State, toppling the top-ranked Minnesota Hornets 11-6 to capture the division crown.
Wildcat Elite (Ill.) Claws Back in Semis, Pulls Away in Final for U15 Girls Title
|Wildcat Elite (Ill.) midfielder
Brennan Dwyer was effective on the draw and chipped in with four
goals in her team's U15 girls' championship game
© Neil Ament
In what midfielder Anna Santulli described as the team’s first “big tournament” together, Wildcat Elite (Ill.) played like seasoned veterans in a 16-9 U15 girls’ championship game victory over third-seeded Detroit Coyotes (Mich.).
Paced by a quick start from midfielder Brennan Dwyer, who collected the game’s first two draw controls and deposited its first two goals en route to an early 3-0 lead for the fifth-seeded suburban Chicago-based Wildcat squad.
Detroit fought back to take 6-5 lead when Santulli took the game over, registering three goals in the last 1:14 of the first half. Her free-position goal with 40 seconds remaining gave Wildcat Elite a lead they would not relinquish.
Wildcat assistant Kat DeRonda, herself a rising senior defender at Northwestern University, described possession as the key for her team prior to the game. DeRonda’s prediction proved true as a flurry of draw control wins led to five early second half goals and put the game out of reach.
“The girls did an unbelievable job fighting for the draws,” Deronda said. “We told them 50-50’s, draws, ground balls are going to be what wins us the game. Those two things are all about heart and hustle, and they came out ready to play and just wanted it really bad.”
The Wildcat defense put on the clamps in the second half, allowing just three goals behind strong play from defender Katherine “Goose” Ragusa and goalie Tia Petrzilka (11 saves). Santulli - who will attend Hinsdale Central (Ill.) High School this fall - tacked on two more goals to finish with six goals and two assists in the championship game and 14 total goals on championship Sunday.
Eight players scored in the loss for Detroit Coyotes, but it wasn’t enough to flip the result from the team’s pool play matchup, a 14-9 decision in Wildcat Elite’s favor Saturday morning. Dwyer (four goals) and midfielder Lindsey Karsh (three goals) rounded out a spectacular performance from the Wildcat Elite midfield group.
“We came in knowing that we couldn’t judge [Detroit] because we beat them the first time,” Santulli said. “We knew they had gotten a lot better, beating a team that we previously had lost to [Michigan Select], so we were just focused on trying our hardest.”
Both teams reached the championship game in thrilling fashion. Detroit advanced on the strength of a 14-13 semifinal win over second-seeded Michigan Select, while Wildcat Elite scored the game’s final four goals - including the game-winner from Santulli with 48 seconds remaining - for a 17-16 victory over top-seeded Minnesota Elite Gold.
In the U13 girls’ bracket, top-seeded Flow 24/7 (Fla.)
capped off a dominant weekend performance with a 12-8 victory over
second-seeded Michigan Select. Seven players scored for Flow in the
victory, including three goals from attacker Caitlyn Wurzburger, as
the Floridians finished the weekend unbeaten.
For a full rundown of scores and weekend recaps, visit the event homepage on USLacrosse.org.