Semifinals Set at US Lacrosse Central Championships
|Wildcat Elite (Ill.) U15 girls
midfielder Anna Santulli racked up 13 goals in the team's three
© Joe Koshollek
More than most, Wildcat Elite (Ill.) U15 girls have witnessed the immense effort it takes to build a successful lacrosse program in a non-traditional area, as evidenced by the team’s namesake, seven-time national champion Northwestern University.
Wildcat Elite have faced some challenging tests at this weekend’s US Lacrosse Central Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, in Madison, Wis. After dropping the second of a pair of close pool play decisions against a tough Michigan Select squad, fifth-seeded Wildcat Elite drew an equally game Lakeshore 2019 (Ill.) team in its quarterfinal game. But behind a quick start from midfielder Brennan Dwyer, who scored three goals in the first half (four total) in the team’s 17-7 win over its in-state counterpart, the suburban Chicago-based bunch was able to regain momentum heading into Sunday morning’s semifinal tilt against top-seeded Minnesota Elite Gold.
When asked about the keys to bringing home a title Sunday morning, Dwyer simply stated, “Probably controlling [the ball] more on offense and keeping the other team from scoring.”
Evanston (Ill.) native Colleen Speth, who along with Northwestern senior defender Kat DeRonda coaches the team of rising high school freshman, noted support from the NU staff, including head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, as a key success factor for the club.
“We have [Northwestern assistant coaches] Hillary [Fratzke] and Danielle [Spencer] coming to practices, so Northwestern is really involved,” Speth said.
By advancing to Sunday’s semifinal, Wildcat Elite was one of four girls’ teams to earn bids to the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, to be held July 26-28 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. In the other U15 girls’ semifinal, unbeaten second-seeded Michigan Select will square off against in-state rival and third-ranked Detroit Coyotes. All four teams will receive free or discounted registration to the US Lacrosse U15 National Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited.
At the U13 girls’ level, Florida-based Flow 24/7 has been dominant in earning the division’s top seed and advancing to face fourth-seeded Lakeshore 2019 (Ill.). Should the lone Sunshine State representatives remain unbeaten, they would face the winner of second-seeded Michigan Select and third-seeded Minnesota Elite Maroon. Both the U15 and U13 girls’ championship games will begin at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
On the boys’ side, the Green Machine (Ind.) U15 boys have been anything but robotic in the team’s run to Sunday’s semifinal against third-ranked True (Wis.) Lacrosse. In earning the second seed after pool play and overwhelming the seventh-seeded Minnesota Lakers 16-1 in the quarterfinal, they’ve managed to outscore their opponents by an average of 15 goals per game thus far. On the other half of the bracket, top-seeded and unbeaten DC (Wis.) Capitals will square off against in-state foe and fourth-seeded Shear Force. By virtue of their quarterfinal wins, all four teams qualified for invites to the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited.
The top-seeded Green Machine U13 boys also look to maintain momentum in Sunday’s semifinal contest against Psycho Cows (Wis.), where the winner will play for a regional title against the victor of second ranked DC (Wis.) Dragons and third-seeded Minnesota Lakers. In the U11 boys’ division, four teams from four different states will vye for the Central crows. The top-seeded Minnesota Hornets are set to face fourth-seeded Lax Farm (Texas). The winner of that contest will meet two seed Sauk Prarie (Wis.) Eagles and another strong fourth-seeded Green Machine contingent.
Next weekend, the US Lacrosse Northeast Championships, powered
by Lacrosse Unlimited, head to Amherst, Mass., where eight more
automatic invitations (four boys, four girls) will be earned at the
Full schedules and scores from the US Lacrosse Central Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, are available at USLacrosse.org.