Yellow Jackets (N.Y.) Girls Sweep Gold, Silver and Bronze at US Lacrosse U15 National Championships
AURORA, Colo. – By the time the sun hit high noon at Aurora Sports Park, the girls division gold-medal game of the sixth annual US Lacrosse U15 National Championships seemed less like a contest and more like a coronation.
By the time storm clouds started rolling off the Rocky Mountains a couple hours later, the Long Island Yellow Jackets (N.Y.) club program had ended that coronation with a sweep.
Third-seeded Yellow Jackets 2017 Blue defeated fourth-seeded Yellow Jackets 2018 Blue, 13-7, to win the gold medal and secure its place at the top of US Lacrosse's U15 membership. But they weren't done. Seconds after a program photo, the Jackets raced to an adjacent field to see the program's second-seeded 2017 Gold team hold off top-seeded Elevate (N.Y.), 10-7, in the third-place game, giving the Jackets a clean sweep of the gold, silver and bronze medals at a festive awards ceremony following play.
"I'm just so happy for everybody. It's so nice to see everyone go home with a big smile," said Yellow Jackets director Carol Rose, who was tugged at all sides for photos with players.
The national championship ended a two-year string of runner-up finishes for the Yellow Jackets. Despite some obvious awkwardness at playing a sister team in the championship game, YJ 2017 Blue players had plenty of motivation. Many were on the rain-soaked fields of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando for last year's final – a painful 14-12 loss to the Long Island Top Guns (N.Y.).
"Last year was so upsetting. We all cried for days," said YJ 2017 Blue midfielder Taryn Ohlmiller.
Ohlmiller helped make sure there would be no pain for her team this year, scoring three first-half goals as YJ 2017 Blue assumed control early against a team capable of surprise. YJ 2018 Blue got to Aurora by winning the US Lacrosse Northeast Championship in Amherst, Mass., last month – over the YJ 2017 Gold team. Also, that YJ 2018 Blue team outlasted Elevate, 14-13 in overtime, in a thrilling morning semifinal.
But this time, there would be no upset by the younger sisters. Jamie Ortega scored three of her four goals in the opening frame as well, helping YJ 2017 Blue to a 3-0 lead and 9-4 advantage by halftime. Meaghan Tyrrell concluded a strong tournament with a hat trick for YJ 2018 Blue, but only once, on Hannah Kenneally's second goal, did the younger squad close to within one – and that lasted less than a minute as Ohlmiller answered from Ortega at the 14:50 mark for a 4-2 lead.
"It means so much to have that second chance to fight for it all over again," said YJ 2017 Blue goalie Charlotte Campbell, likewise a member of the 2013 runner-up squad.
Campbell played the second half and made four saves. With the outcome decided, attention turned to the third-place game. Elevate trimmed a 5-3 halftime deficit to 8-7, but late goals by Amanda Masullo and Sarah Pulis secured an all-Yellow Jackets podium.
"To have a sweep for all three teams is huge for the club and huge for Long Island," said YJ 2017 Blue coach Danielle Skakandi. "The girls wanted to make sure there would be smiles and laughter on the ride home this year. I'm excited to be a part of it and looking forward to next year already."
After the games, no one smiled more or for longer than Rose, seemingly a matriarch to the dozens of gold- and blue-clad players that traveled some 2,000 miles to represent their homeland in a 29-team field that included squads from 14 states. Coaches and players within the club praised her leadership, but in a rare quiet moment away from the celebration, Rose said her motives remain fairly simple.
"I'm just trying to instill a love of the game; the same kind that was instilled in me when I was a player," she said. "I just really love to see them go on and play the sport that I love so much, and enjoy and be happy doing that."
Safe to say all three teams are happy, and they're going home with the medals to prove it.
Yellow Jackets 2017 Blue 11, Yellow Jackets 2017 Gold 5
Yellow Jackets 2018 Blue 14, Elevate 13 (ot)
Yellow Jackets 2017 Blue 13, Yellow Jackets 2018 Blue 7
Yellow Jackets 2017 Gold 10, Elevate 7
"Keeper of Lacrosse" Sportsmanship Award
Coast to Coast LA (Calif.)
Utah 10, Khaos 8
Colorado 10, Lakeshore 3
C2C Dallas 11, Minnesota Elite 5
C2C Dallas 9, BBL Elite 8 (ot)
Ultimate Elite 15, Team 180 2018 4
Team 180 2017 8, BearLax 2017 7
Pacific Falcons 7, Eagle Stix 2018 6
Washington 11, Sunshine State Select 3
Cardinal Red 2017 14, Illinois Elite 5
Cool Stick Illinois 6, Desert Heat 4
Superstix 5, Coast to Coast LA 4
Liberty 10, Eagle Stix 2017 9
STEPS 9, Top Guns 8
Lacrosse Magazine All-Tournament Team
Jesse Arline, attack, Yellow Jackets 2017 Gold (N.Y.)
Alison Johnson, attack, Yellow Jackets 2017 Blue (N.Y.)
Taryn Ohlmiller, attack, Yellow Jackets 2017 Blue (N.Y.)
Katie Kotowski, midfield, Elevate (N.Y.)
Jamie Ortega, midfield, Yellow Jackets 2017 Blue (N.Y.)
Katelyn Igneri, midfield, Elevate (N.Y.)
Sophia Triandafils, midfield, Yellow Jackets 2017 Blue (N.Y.)
Meaghan Tyrrell, midfield, Yellow Jackets 2018 Blue (N.Y.)
Olivia Smith, defense, Elevate (N.Y.)
Kirsten Scutaro, defense, Yellow Jackets 2018 Blue (N.Y.)
Arielle Weissman, goalie, STEPS (N.J.)
US Lacrosse U15 National Championships All-Time Girls'
2009: CheckHers Elite (Md.)
2010: Yellow Jackets (N.Y.)
2011: Yellow Jackets (N.Y.)
2012: Sky Walkers (Md.)
2013: Top Guns (N.Y.)
2014: Yellow Jackets (N.Y.)
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