Baltimore Girls Net OT Win in UA Championship
Two thrilling finals hallmarked a Baltimore sweep on Sunday for both the boys and girls at the 2014 Under Armour Underclass Tournament, a high school lacrosse showcase that was held at Towson University.
The Baltimore girls played three consecutive games on Sunday, capping off the tournament with a 9-8 overtime win over Long Island, while the Baltimore boys held off a late Philadelphia rally to win its championship 12-11.
The girls began Sunday's games in a difficult situation – not only did they need to defeat a previously unbeaten New England squad, but they also had to hold them to fewer than seven goals in the process to advance to the semifinals through a tiebreaker. Answering the call, the Baltimore girls' defense shut down New England as they cruised into the semis with a convincing 11-4 win.
Following its win over Philadelphia in the semifinals, Baltimore faced Long Island, another undefeated team which stormed through pool play before ousting Upstate in the semis 14-6.
|After cruising past New England, the Baltimore girls took down Long Island in the championship game. (John Strohsacker)|
Baltimore girls' coach Jen Randisi said the team knew they were the underdogs coming into Sunday, but with a lot of returning players from last year, they had the confidence to win.
"We just said you have to play every inch, every second, everywhere," said Randisi. "Today's the day, we are going to go home if you don't win."
Right out of the gate, Baltimore jumped on top of Long Island, winning the opening draw control before midfielder Jennifer Giles (Mt. Hebron/Maryland) scored the first goal of the game.
Late in the first half with the score tied at two, Baltimore went on a three-goal run to finish out the half, including one scored by midfielder Amanda Donovan who cut and dodged right in front of the crease as time expired.
After Long Island tallied the first goal of the second half, tournament MVP Miranda Ibello (Maryvale Preparatory/Johns Hopkins) answered with two impressive goals, tiptoeing around the crease to extend Baltimore's lead to 7-3.
Despite stretching the score to 8-4 midway through the second half, Long Island's Sydney Pirreca (Mount Sinai/Florida) would not go home without a fight. She scored three of the next four goals for her squad, one of which was fired in the top corner after a coast-to-coast sprint to tie the game.
A fifth-straight goal gave Long Island its first lead since the beginning of the first half, but Baltimore countered as Brindi Griffin (McDonogh/Maryland) knotted the game up at nine with just under two minutes to play.
Ibello said even though they fell behind late, there was never any doubt that they would come back to win.
"I feel that we are stronger than Long Island," said Ibello. "We were so composed the whole time and we all had that confidence that we were going to come out on top, and we did."
Baltimore goaltender Megan Taylor (Glenelg/Maryland) made big stops down the stretch and Long Island failed to get off a shot as regulation expired, forcing the championship game into overtime.
Baltimore controlled the opening draw of the overtime frame and got a good look right away, but Long Island goaltender Samantha Giacolone (Eastport South Manor/Notre Dame) made the save with her knee to keep the game even.
However, moments later, after gathering the loose ball, Giles found herself open in front of the crease and was able to bury the shot past Giacolone, bookending the game and giving the Baltimore girls team a championship on home soil.
"It could've happened to anyone," and Giles. "Anyone who is presented with the opportunity to score should've. I just happened to be open, so I cut and shot and I'm happy it went in."
Randisi said she was proud of how team came together as one unit, showing a lot of heart and winning three games in one day to win the championship.
"The biggest thing is that they worked like a team the whole time; it wasn't one individual," said Randisi. "We had to win all three games so we came into this as a big underdog today. We had to win, and they did exactly what we asked them to do, literally. We are so proud of them."
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