NCAA Champs No Match for U.S.
Champion Challenge most outstanding player Kristen Kjellman of Team USA secures a draw over Maryland's Karri Ellen Johnson -- who was held without a point for the first time in her college career.
© Scott McCall
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It's not every day -- or ever in a college uniform at Maryland -- that Karri Ellen Johnson is held scoreless. And it's rare when Terrapins goaltender Brittany Dipper makes 15 saves, but her team still loses.
But against a caliber of team like the U.S. women's national senior team, the unusual can and did happen. The U.S. faced defending NCAA champion Maryland on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon in Florida and took down the Terps, 16-4, at Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
The U.S. led 9-0 at halftime behind a suffocating defense that forced 12 turnovers overall and threw Maryland out of rhythm. The U.S. offense followed in turn. Nine different players scored. Caroline Cryer (Duke '09) had the most with three goals and Lindsey Munday (Northwestern '06) had one goal and four assists.
"For the most part with our team, I don't know if it's our personality, but the ride gives us a lot of energy," U.S. coach Ricky Fried said. "It wears on a team both physically and mentally. We were on-task on that, putting pressure on their hands, making them throw long passes, and we were able to anticipate and come up with interceptions, especially in the first half. Getting nine goals in the first half and them getting zero obviously gives you a lot of confidence."
Kristen Kjellman (Northwestern '07) scored two goals and led the U.S. with three draw controls. Kjellman was named most outstanding player of Champion Challenge. The U.S. won the draw battle, 13-7. Devon Wills (Dartmouth '06) started in goal for the U.S. She had had four saves, many on fast break chances, which were by design according to the U.S. game plan, Fried said. Megan Huether (Duke '06) played in goal the second half and recorded six saves.
"Luckily we know their moves and tendencies. We kind of had their numbers, who does what and what hand they are," said U.S. defender Amber Falcone (North Carolina '09), who is an assistant coach at Vanderbilt. "The first half we were very together and played high-pressure defense. That allows them to maybe get some quick breaks. Even though they're a great fast break team, and just a great team obviously – they won a national championship and have a lot of kids back -- we have the goalies that can save the ball."
Sarah Albrecht (Northwestern '06) scored two of the first three goals for the U.S. and put the Americans up 3-0 midway through the first half. From there, Munday record a point on four of the next five U.S. goals, scoring one and assisting on three. Two of the feeds were to Kjellman and the other was to Katrina Dowd, both fellow former Northwestern Wildcats.
Kristy Black (two goals) scored Maryland's first goal 6:09 into the second half to make it 9-1. The U.S. led 11-3 at the end of the third quarter.
"We played together the entire game," Fried said. "We didn't have individuals trying to do extra things... The biggest thing we did better today than we did last night [in a 21-6 win over Virginia] was our consistency level. That's one of the things we challenged them with at halftime. Being up 9-0, it's sometimes difficult to stay mentally in the game. I thought throughout the day, playing a team the caliber of Maryland, we were able to stay engaged and not allow them to go on any runs."
Johnson, a junior attacker and Lacrosse Magazine's NCAA Division I women's preseason player of the year, had scored at least one goal in each of her 48 career college games at Maryland, but didn't register a goal or an assist. (Since this was an exhibition and not an NCAA game, Johnson's scoring streak remains intact.)
Maryland coach Cathy Reese said she was pleased with her team's effort. The Terps have managed only three outdoor practices this month in snowy Maryland. Temperatures in the 70s, clear skies in Florida and ideal field conditions provided a welcome atmosphere and a preseason chance to tinker. Maryland is LM's preseason No. 1-ranked women's Division I team in the nation.
"It was a great opportunity to play against what is considered to be the best in the country," Reese said. "We were honored to be there, to be a part of it. For us, it's been really nice to go full field. We had a lot of opportunities at first, but we turned the ball over quite a bit. The U.S. has outstanding defense. They play a really high-pressure style, and they're super athletic. Having said all that, I thought our girls played really well. We still have a lot of work to do, to be the best team we can be. However, I'm really pleased with what we've seen so far."
Blue wins two
The U.S. women's national team used a split squad Sunday, with a "blue" squad playing simultaneously against Virginia while the rest of the team played on the main field against Maryland.
Jillian Byers (Notre Dame '09) and Danielle Spencer (Northwestern '10) each scored five goals and each added two assists in another dominant Team USA effort, a 21-10 victory. Sisters Lauren and Katie Schwarzmann (Johns Hopkins '08 and Maryland '13) added two goals apiece for Team USA. Michelle Tumolo (Syracuse '13) had a goal and two assists. Kendall McBrearty (Virginia '08) made nine saves in goal.
In another game that immediately followed Sunday's first meeting with Maryland, the U.S. women's blue squad beat Maryland again, 12-5. The game was played with a running clock. Corrine Gandolfi (Hofstra '10) led with a hat trick. Katie Schwarzmann, playing against her current college team, had two goals for the U.S., as did Laura Zimmerman (North Carolina '12).
CHAMPION CHALLENGE, A US LACROSSE EVENT – LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA.
Team USA 16, Maryland 4
USA – 9 – 7 – 16
Maryland 0 – 4 – 4
Goals – USA: Cryer 3, Albrecht 2, Kjellman 2, LaGrow 2, Dowd 2, Walker 1, Munday 1, Dowd 1, Igoe 1, McFadden 1, Bullard 1; MD: Black 2, Aust 1, Merrifield 1.
Assists – USA: Munday 4, Cryer 1, Dowd 1, Berger 1
Saves – USA: Wills 4, Huether 6: MD: Dipper 15
Team USA Blue 21, Virginia 10
USA Blue - 8 - 13 - 21
Virginia - 5 - 5 - 10
Goals - USA: Byers 5, Spencer 5, Zimmerman 3, L. Schwartzmann 2, K. Schwartzmann 2, Gandolfi, Kaestner, Poole, Tumolo; UVA: Baker 3, Gardner 3, Finnigan 2, Owen, Boyle.
Assists - USA: Byers 2, Spencer 2, Tumolo 2, Gandolfi, Schmidt; UVA: Baker 2, Gardner 2, Owen, Finnigan.
Saves - USA: McBrearty 9, Altig 7; UVA: Kolarik 13.
Team USA Blue 12, Maryland 5
USA Blue – 3 – 9 -12
Maryland – 3 – 2 – 5
Goals - USA: Gandolfi 3, Schwarzman, K. 2, Zimmerman 2, Kaestner 1, Schwarzmann, L. 1, Poole 1, Spencer 1, Schmidt 1; MD: Mollison 1, Johnson 1, Merrifield 1, Aust 1, Kirk 1.
Assists - USA: Tumolo 2
Saves - USA: Altig 1; MD: Dipper 2, Jordan 5