August 13, 2011

U.S. Rallies Past Australia for FIL U19 Women's World Championship

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay

Cortney Fortunato scored three goals, including two during a game-changing 5-0 run for the U.S. in the second half, to help the Americans win their fourth consecutive FIL U19 World Championship with a 14-11 decision over rival Australia in Germany Saturday. Fortunato, the youngest player on the U.S. squad, was one of five Americans named to the All-World Team (below).

©Martin Hebgen

HANNOVER, Germany -- The U.S. captured its fourth consecutive Federation of International Lacrosse Under-19 Women's World Championship Saturday with a 14-11, come-from-behind win over archrival Australia. Team USA trailed 6-3 midway through the first half, but stormed back to complete its title run and end the tournament with a perfect 8-0 record.

"Just saying those words – world champions! You can't even get your mind around it and what that feels like," U.S. head coach Krystin Porcella said. "The excitement of being in the world championship was so close, and I think it got to us a bit in the beginning. We were nervous, but we were able to find ourselves."

Attackers Cortney Fortunato and Covie Stanwick led the Americans with three goals each. Midfielder Tatum Coffey (2g) won player of the match for her tough play between the lines on the fiercely contested draws.

"The bottom line was we had fun," Coffey said. "We knew we had it, so that's all it took. We trained for a year, and it came down to that moment."

Team USA had a relatively easy victory over Australia in the round robin, winning 20-7. The championship game was a different matter. Australia opened scoring on a crease roll by attacker Sarah Lowe (3g, 1a), and the two teams traded goals until the U.S. went up 3-2 on an unassisted tally from Mikeala Rix, who dodged through several attackers to give the Americans their first lead of the day.

Then Australia went on a four-goal run, keyed by Danielle Mollison (5g), that put the score at 6-3. Australian goalie Elizabeth Hinkes (8 saves) was a stalwart in the cage, frustrating the powerful American offense. With Australia working from behind the net and prowling the crease to devastating effect, the Americans were trailing for the first time in tournament play.
Rix stopped the Australian run with another unassisted goal, and Kelly McPartland (1g) scored on a free position to cut the deficit to 6-5. Mollison added another goal on an assist from Lowe, but Brigid Smith scored on a free position and Stanwick beat Hinkes on a bounce shot to make the score 7-7 at the half.

"Looking at the score and seeing it was 7-7, I thought, 'Man, we've got some work to do,'" Porcella said.

In the second half, the Americans went to work. The defense switched to a high-pressure look that limited the Australian attack, and Duryea came alive, making seven of her nine saves.

"They scored seven goals on me before I got a save. We'd never experienced that," Duryea said. "The biggest thing is having a short memory. You go out in the second half and it's a brand new game. We started to have more fun."

The Americans struggled on the draw, winning only 11 of 27 attempts, but thanks to eight caused turnovers, they had enough possessions to go on a five-goal run that gave them a 12-8 lead that they never relinquished.

Australia fought until the final possession, though. Lowe scored on an outside shot to cut the American lead to 14-11 with 2:14 to play. Midfielder Darcy Justice Allen (2g) won the final draw and got the ball to Lowe, whose shot was stopped by Duryea. Mollison tried to press Duryea and stepped in the crease, resulting in a free possession for the goalkeeper. But then the Americans were whistled for an offsetting foul – too many players on the field – and instead of a free position for Duryea, it was a toss between Mollison and defender Alyssa Blevins. Mollison won the toss, and Australia had two shots in the last minute – one a pipe, one a save by Duryea – but the Americans held on for the win. The game is another storied chapter in the history of one of lacrosse's greatest rivalries, with the Americans besting the Australians for the fourth straight time in five meetings in this FIL U19 gold medal game.

"It's just incredible," said U.S. team captain Taylor Trimble. "We had every reason to freak out. We had never been in that position before, but we were poised, and it resulted in a victory. Turning around with the world cup and seeing everyone's faces was just so great."

Box Score: USA 14, Australia 11
USA
Goals: Stanwick 3, Fortunato 3, Cook 2, Rix 2, Coffey 1, McPartland 1, Smith 1, Treanor 1
Assists: Acton 1, Coffey 1, Fortunato 1
Saves: Duryea (9 saves, 11GA)
Draw Controls: 11-27

AUSTRALIA
Goals: Mollison 5, Lowe 3, D. Justice Allen 2, Pickett 1
Assists: Bowland Curtis 1, D. Justice Allen 1, Lowe 1
Saves: Hinkes (8 saves, 14 GA)
Draw Controls: 16-27

FIL U19 All-World Team
A Cortney Fortunato USA
A Erin McMunn USA
A Danielle Mollison AUS
M Darcy Justice Allen AUS
M Taylor Landry CAN
M Kaylin Morisette CAN
M Mikaela Rix USA
M Taylor Trimble USA
D Stephanie McNamara AUS
D Caleigh Sindall USA
D Ruby Smith ENG
G Katie Donohue CAN


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