Liberty, Freedom to Meet in Champion AAS Final
Freedom's Aislinn Probst, from Broadneck (Md.) High School, had seven goals in two wins of Monday to help Freedom go a perfect 3-0 in pool play at the Champion All-American Showcase.
© Scott McCall
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It’s not something teams like to make a habit of, but Team Freedom seemed completely comfortable playing from behind on day two of the Champion Girls’ All-American Showcase, a US Lacrosse event. Freedom rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the morning to beat Liberty 20-8, and then came back from a 9-4 hole against Pride to win 14-13 in the afternoon.
The wins wrapped up a 3-0 record in pool play for Freedom and a trip to Tuesday’s championship game against Liberty (2-1) at 1 p.m. The game will shown live on www.espn3.com. Pride (1-2) and Spirit (0-3) will meet in the bronze medal game at 9:30 a.m.
Led by Northwestern recruit Christian Esposito (West Babylon HS, N.Y.), Pride seem like it was headed to the championship after jumping out to a 9-4 lead late in the first half against Freedom on Monday afternoon, but Freedom responded with three goals in the final two minutes of the first half, and then scored the first five goals of the second half. All told, Pride went more than 15 minutes without a goal as it watched its 9-4 lead turn into a 12-9 deficit.
Still, Pride rebounded with three straight of its own to tie it 12-12 and tied it for the final time at 13-13 on a goal by Amanda Johansen with 5:19 left. Two minutes later, Freedom’s Kelci Smesko scored to give Freedom a 14-13 advantage. Pride had two more chances to tie it and force overtime, but Esposito was carded for dangerous propelling with 1:30 to play, and then a free position chance was denied in the final 10 seconds as Pride could not get off a good shot.
Tyler Thomas, a Florida high school product from Lake Highland Prep headed to nearby Rollins, led Freedom with three goals and Smesko, Aislinn Probst, Madison Acton and Adrienne Anderson all added two each. Esposito led Pride with three goals and two assists while Hannah Saris and Jennifer Thompson each added two goals. Pride goalies Julia DiTondo and Katrina Reeves combined to make 11 saves.
Freedom will meet Liberty in the final. Liberty lost a 5-1 lead in its 20-8 defeat to Freedom in the morning, but bounced back to beat Spirit 20-17 in a weather-shortened game in the afternoon to advance to the championship.
In the win over Spirit, Emma Lazaroff continued a strong showcase with four goals and two assists to lead a balanced scoring effort by Team Liberty. Lazaroff, bound for Duke in the fall, assisted on two of Liberty’s first three goals, and she scored three of her team’s final four in the second half to finally put away a pesky Spirit squad.
“One thing that’s tricky with these types of events is that we’re all learning each other’s styles,” said Abby Mead, one of the Liberty team coaches. “Every game out we’re playing more as a team. Every game has its moments, its ebbs and its flows. We’ve been learning about each other fairly quickly. Our chemistry has improved, so that when we hit those obstacles, we’ve been able to work through them together.”
Spirit was led by Michaela Michael (Menlo, Calif.), a rising senior who’s committed to the University of Southern California’s new varsity program. Michael proved nearly unstoppable, using her height to win several draw controls and athleticism to score six goals and hand out two assists. She scored consecutive goals late in the first half to pull Spirit within 9-8, then led her squad’s final rally with three straight in the second half. Her conversion of a Kelsey Murray (2g, 3a) feed at 6:30 brought Spirit within two for the last time before Lazaroff and Liberty salted the game away.
Earlier in the day, Freedom scored eight straight goals over a span of 11 minutes to erase a 5-1 hole on the way to a 20-8 win over Liberty. After taking a 10-6 halftime lead, Freedom continued to pour it on the second half, with Aislinn Probst leading the way. The rising senior from Broadneck (Md.) High School who has committed to Navy, had a game-high five goals and added two assists. Freedom scored the first six goals of the second half.
Kelci Smesko added four goals for Freedom and Madison Acton and Carly Palmucci added three each. Emma Lazaroff led Liberty with a goal and an assist and Madalyn Blakeman had two assists.
Pride earned its only win so far with a 19-11 win over Spirit in the morning. Cortney Fortunato scored three goals and added three assists to lead a balanced attack for the Pride. Spirit led by a 3-2 score 10 minutes into the game, but Pride then scored five straight goals, with Fortunato getting a goal and two assists during the run, to pull away. Hannah Saris, Stephanie Toy and Gabriella Starkey all added three goals for Pride as well. Julia Ditondo and Katrina Reeves combed for 10 saves in goal for Pride.
Kristina Coppolino and Dene DiMartino led Spirit with three goals each while Alyssa Saxon made a team-high seven saves.
Freedom 14, Pride 13
Goals: Freedom – Tyler Thomas 3, Madison Acton 2, Kelci Smesko 2, Adrienne Anderson 2, Aislinn Probst 2, Bridget Instrum, Christine Easton, Caroline Fitzgerald. Pride – Christina Esposito 3, Hannah Saris 2, Jennifer Thompson, Julia Burns, Gabriella Starkey, Kalia Roberts, Amanda Johansen, Cortney Fortunato, Kelly Brethauer, Kara Dattellas.
Assists: Freedom – Carly Palmucci 2. Pride – Christina Esposito 2, Kelly Brethauer, Bernadette Leone.
Goalkeeping: Freedom – Chelsey Sidaras (2 saves, 9 GA), Katelyn Salerno (2 saves, 4 GA). Pride – Julia DiTondo (5 saves, 7 GA), Katrina Reeves (6 saves, 7 GA).
Liberty 20, Spirit 17
Goals: Liberty – Emma Lazaroff 4, Lydia Cassada 3, Nicole Troost 2, Lauren Wackerle 2, Samantha Jaffe 2, Maggie Bill 2, Hannah Landgrave, McKenzie Hunt, Katrina Geiger, Madalyn Blakeman, Kelly Dolan. Spirit – Michaela Michael 6, Mackenzie Smith 4, Kristina Coppolino 2, Kelsey Murray 2, Rachel Sexton, Julie Castner, Kelly Cross.
Assists: Liberty – Samantha Jaffe 2, Emma Lazaroff 2, Lauren Wackerle, Spring Sanders, Madalyn Blakeman, Kelly Dolan. Spirit – Kelsey Murray 3, Michaela Michael 2, Kelly Cross 2, Kristina Coppolino, Mackenzie Smith, Casey Pearsall, Sydney DuPre, Doris Wilson.
Goalkeeping: Liberty – Claudia Coleates (5 saves, 8 GA), Hanna Slough (1 save, 9 GA). Spirit – Genevieve Giblin (6 GA), Alyssa Saxon (8 saves, 8 GA), Colleen Jacoby (3 saves, 6 GA).
Freedom 20, Liberty 8
Goals: Freedom – Aislinn Probst 5, Kelci Smesko 4, Madison Acton 3, Carly Palmucci 3, Tyler Thomas 2, Bridget Instrum, Caroline Fitzgerald, Adrienne Anderson. Liberty – Kelsey Mackin, Lauren Wackerle, Emma Lazaroff, Samantha Jaffe, McKenzie Hunt, Katrina Geiger, Jordan McCarthy, Kelly Doran.
Assists: Freedom – Casey Sterrett 2, Aislinn Probst 2, Carly Palmucci. Liberty – Madalyn Blakeman 2, Emma Lazaroff, Maggie Bill.
Goalkeeping: Freedom – Katelyn Salerno (5 saves, 6 GA), Chelsey Sidaris (4 saves, 2 GA). Liberty – Hanna Slough (4 saves, 10 GA), Claudia Coleates (1 save, 10 GA).
Pride 19, Spirit 11
Goals: Pride – Hannah Saris 3, Stephanie Toy 3, Gabriella 3, Cortney Fortunato 3, Christina Esposito 2, Anne-Marie Farmer 2, Jennifer Thompson, Kara Daltellus, Kelly Brethauer. Spirit – Kristina Coppolino 3, Dene DiMartino 3, Casey Pearsall, Michaela Michael, Kelly Cross.
Assists: Pride – Cortney Fortunato 3, Christina Esposito, Hannah Saris, Antonia Violante, Stephanie Toy, Jennifer Thompson, Amanda Johansen, Kara Daltellus, Kelly Brethauer. Spirit – Kelsey Murray 2, MacKenzie Smith.
Goalkeeping: Pride – Julia Ditondo (6 saves, 5 GA), Katrina Reeves (4 saves, 6 GA). Spirit Genevieve Giblin (3 saves, 7 GA), Alyssa Saxon (7 saves, 8 GA), Colleen Jacoby (1 save, 4 GA)