No Limit U15 Boys Win US Lacrosse Southeast Championship
No Limit Ballers (N.Y.) midfielder Nick Yevoli (1g, 2a) drives upfield during the US Lacrosse Southeast Regional Championship U15 gold medal game. No Limit defeated Tar Heel (N.C.), 11-7, and will head to Orlando for the US Lacrosse National Championship.
RALEIGH, N.C. – Hailing from Long Island, the No Limit Ballers' (N.Y.) reputation preceded themselves at this weekend's US Lacrosse Southeast Regional Championship, Powered by Lacrosse Unlimited. But they took the South's best shot and punched their ticket for the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship next month in Orlando.
Fueled by a stifling defense and penchant for gobbling ground balls, third-seeded No Limit grounded out an 11-7 win over top-seeded Tar Heel Lacrosse (N.C.) to win the boys' under-15 division at the WRAL Soccer Center. Carter Hawthorne contributed four goals, and Nick Yevoli added a goal, two assists and several faceoff wins for No Limit.
"I like being the favorite and having everyone come after us," said No Limit defenseman Andrew Bernardi. "Winning this is big. It's huge. [The US Lacrosse National Championship] is going to be a great experience. I can't wait."
No Limit's defense set the tone early, holding Tar Heel without a goal during a game-opening four-minute stretch. Midway through the second, defenseman Bernardi picked off a pass and started a fast break that Yevoli finished courtesy of a feed from Kyle Silverstein at 6:31. The goal concluded a 5-0 No Limit run through most of the first half, as Tar Heel couldn't do much offensively after its initial possession.
"We call interceptions 'nuggets' in practice. Every time we get one, we cheer," Bernardi said.
Bernardi and Co. feasted. Tar Heel had two extra-man opportunities in the half, but did not convert. When they did get looks, No Limit goalie Bryan Ochs was up to the task.
"The defense is outstanding," No Limit coach Jim Konen said. "They're big, strong kids, and they all can play. We're very physical, and that kind of hurt us a little bit. The kids persevered."
No Limit allowed eight extra-man opportunities, but not until the fourth quarter did Tar Heel convert. Brendan Farrell scored the last of his three goals on the day to start a three-goal run that would bring the hosts within 9-7 with about five minutes to play.
But Yevoli effectively ended the drama by evading Alex Straub and beating Tar Heel goalie Nick Arcuri high for a 10-7 No Limit lead at the 4:02 mark.
"Nick Yevoli took over the game," Konen said. "He won a bunch of big faceoffs. He's so quick off a ground ball. And when he gets going downhill, he's tough to stop."
Farrell positioned Tar Heel to get back in the game, scoring at the end of the second quarter and early in the third to help Tar Heel close to within 6-4. But Yevoli fed Hawthorne with three minutes left in the quarter, and an Ochs save of a Dylan Bryan (1g, 2a) shot fueled a fast break that ended with another Hawthorne goal.
"It felt really good to win," Yevoli said. "We hadn't won a championship yet."
No Limit may not be done. Konen reminded his troops during a team huddle that today was "our first step to being national champs, and that's our goal."
The top four teams here, which included semifinalists Palm Beach Storm (Fla.) and Winston-Salem (N.C.), received automatic invitations to the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, Powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, July 27-29 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. They'll make their acceptance known in the days ahead.
For the US Lacrosse Southeast Champion No Limit Ballers, joining as many as 32 of the nation's best U15 teams to settle the national championship on the field is a no-brainer.
"I can't wait for that," Yevoli said. "I really hope we do good down there, and I would love to win the national championship."
Notes: Penn Select (Pa.) defeated Palm Beach Storm (Fla.), 14-1, to win the boys' U13 division. Ryan Brown scored five goals for Penn Select. ... The Carolina Cannons (N.C.) got the home state a championship by winning the boys' U11 division with a 12-7 win over Thunder (Ga.) in the final thanks in part to four goals by Jake Caputo. ... The US Lacrosse Southeast Championships return to Raleigh June 7-9, 2013.