DH Lax Elite Edges FLG to Highlight US Lacrosse U15 National Championship
Anthony Demaio scored the go-ahead goal with 5:35 remaining to lift DH Lax Elite (Calif.) to an 8-6 win over defending champion For the Love of the Game (N.Y.) in pool play today at the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited. All 26 teams will compete in a single-elimination bracket tournament beginning tomorrow.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Anthony Demaio converted a pass from Jake Schleppy for the go-ahead goal with 5:35 to play as DH Lax Elite (Calif.) knocked off defending national champion For the Love of the Game (N.Y.), 8-6, as pool play began at the US Lacrosse Boys' U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, today at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The loss, FLG's first in this event since the gold medal game in 2010, highlighted the first day of action that features 26 of the nation's top U15 teams from 12 states. Based on today's results, teams are now seeded (below) for a single-elimination tournament that begins tomorrow and will conclude Sunday with the crowning of the US Lacrosse national champion.
"Last year here was the first time for all of us, so we didn't really understand what it was all about," said DH Lax Elite coach Kyle Harrison, a former Tewaaraton Award winner with Johns Hopkins and a member of Team USA's roster for its Sept. 8 "Duel in Denver" exhibition against Team Canada.
"With the kids, they're used to being the best on their own teams," Harrison said. "When they learn that everyone is good here, they'll know that we're just going to run everyone through. It's hot out. If we share the ball, we'll be successful."
Connor McCroskey scored two goals to aid DH Lax Elite, including an extra-man clincher with 2:35 to play. The Californians took a 4-2 lead at halftime. Six different scorers fueled FLG, which controlled many of the possessions but ran into a hot goalie in Gunner Garn, who went the distance and finished with 12 saves.
"We may have only won one faceoff," Harrison said. "Our defense played great. Gunner made some big saves early, and that gave us some confidence. We scored five goals in transition, one extra-man, and two on settled situations. So our defense was trying to start the transition today. But to win this tournament, we're going to need to win more faceoffs."
DU Lax Elite earned the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye, joining eight teams that survived three games in soaring temperatures unbeaten. This event typically brings together teams from areas of the country where lacrosse is established and where it's growing, giving the latter an annual litmus test. The upstarts held their own in some cases.
Blue Devil Elite (Fla.), coached by several former players at Duke University, did so, beating the Long Island Outlaws (N.Y.), Norcal Talon (Calif.) and the Atlanta Coyotes (Ga.) to earn the No. 3 seed. Blue Devil Elite got four goals apiece from Zach Crotty and Jesse Foertmeyer in a 10-3 win over Atlanta.
Not long after DH Lax Elite beat FLG, the Californians found themselves trailing Minnesota at the half, 6-3. A hat trick by Demaio helped DH Lax Elite rally to an 8-7 win over a team coached by former Harvard player and University of Minnesota-Duluth club team coach Rob Graff. Utah nearly tied No. 5 seed NESLL (Mass.), having the ball with under a minute left in an eventual 6-5 loss. Illinois United/Team One tied US Lacrosse Southeast Regional Champion No Limit Ballers (N.Y.), and Norcal Talon beat the Outlaws, 9-7.
But they heavyweights also flexed their muscles. Two-time champion FCA (Md.) cruised to three wins to earn the top seed. Jeffrey Kern had the high game of the day with six goals and two assists in FCA's 15-1 defeat of the Palm Beach Storm (Fla.). Looney's (Md.) allowed just one goal in its first two games but yielded 9, including the last four of the game, in a 9-8 loss to No Limit.
All 26 teams will compete for the national championship in the single-elimination bracket. Teams that lose will fall to consolation brackets and continue playing games tomorrow and Sunday.
Seeds for Bracket
1. FCA (3-0)
2. Long Island Express (3-0)
3. Blue Devil Elite (3-0)
4. DH Lax Elite (3-0)
5. NESLL (3-0)
6. Long Island Jesters (2-0-1)
7. Colorado (2-0-1)
8. No Limit Ballers (2-0-1)
9. Looney's (2-1)
10. For the Love of the Game (2-1)
11. Norcal Talon (2-1)
12. Dukes HHH (2-1)
13. Florida (2-1)
14. Illinois United/Team One (1-1-1)
15. Florida Swashbucklers (1-2)
16. Utah (1-2)
17. 3d Select (1-2)
18. Bamalax (1-2)
19. Long Island Outlaws (0-2-1)
20. Atlanta Coyotes (0-2-1)
21. Norcal Platinum (0-3)
22. Orlando (0-3)
23. Minnesota (0-3)
24. Norcal Blue (0-3)
25. Palm Beach Storm (0-3)
26. Jacksonville (0-3)
First Round Games
July 28 - 8 a.m.
No. 16 Utah vs. No. 17 3d Select
No. 9 Looney's vs. No. 24 Norcal Blue
No. 8 No Limit Ballers vs. No. 25 Palm Beach Storm
No. 15 Florida Swashbucklers vs. No. 18 Bamalax
No. 10 For the Love of the Game vs. No. 23 Minnesota
No. 7 Colorado vs. No. 26 Jacksonville
July 28 - 9:30 a.m.
No. 13 Florida vs. No. 20 Atlanta Coyotes
No. 12 Dukes HHH vs. No. 21 Norcal Platinum
No. 14 Illinois United/Team One vs. No. 19 Long Island Outlaws
No. 11 Norcal Talon vs. No. 22 Orlando