Seeds Hold in US Lacrosse National Championship
Emma Wall scored three consecutive goals midway through the first half to help third-seed Top of the Bay (Md.) defeat 11-seed Nor Cal Elite, 10-4, in the quarterfinals of the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, presented by Champion.
© Scott McCall
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Twice before Top of the Bay (Md.) has stared at formidable opponents in the quarterfinals of the US Lacrosse Under-15 National Championship, presented by Champion, and twice before coach Krystin Porcella’s squad has suffered heartbreak: losing in overtime in 2009 to the eventual champions and by one goal in 2010.
Not this time.
Grace Richards and Emma Wall each tallied a hat trick, leading third-seed Top of the Bay to a 10-4 win over 11-seed Nor Cal Elite and punching the program’s first ticket to the final four.
Seeding for the tournament portion of the event held true, as top-seed and defending champion Long Island (N.Y.) Yellow Jackets, second-seed and 2010 runner-up Stars Gold (Va.), and fourth-seed Long Island (N.Y.) Top Guns all advanced to the national semifinals.
“It’s really exciting,” Porcella said. “This is a really great event. We love coming here. It makes it that much more special when you can be more successful each year that you do it.”
Against an up-and-coming Nor Cal team, which dispatched six-seed and US Lacrosse Southeast Regional champion North Carolina in the round of 16, Richards and Wall supplied plenty of offense early, staking the Marylanders to an 8-3 halftime lead.
“Grace just has a great nose for the goal,” Porcella said. “She’s just going into ninth grade, so she’s trying to learn as much as she can from the older players and coaches. It’s nice to see a player who’s already a great player wanting to get better.”
Goalie Sarah Northern, one of seven returnees to Top of the Bay, helped remove any doubts in this year’s quarterfinals, combining with Haley Hicklen to make eight saves and shut the door on Nor Cal.
“It’s farther than we got last year, so it’s pretty awesome,” Northern said. “It was tough last year.”
Top of the Bay will meet Stars Gold, who controlled returning bronze medalist Pacific Falcons Blue (Calif.), 14-4, in one semifinal. Long Island rivals Yellow Jackets and Top Guns will meet in the other, defeating Cardinal (Va.) and Lax Maniax (Fla.), respectively, in the quarterfinals.
Nor Cal Elite exits in the quarterfinals for a second straight year, but the athletic group did beat North Carolina twice.
“We had some really brilliant moments this week; some great goals and great plays,” said Nor Cal coach Theresa Sherry, the former head coach at the University of California. “We made some great defensive stops. Aly DaCar in goal for us was phenomenal.”
DaCar made 12 saves in two playoff games.
Top of the Bay coaches celebrated the breakthrough win by continuing a tradition of pranking their players, this time showering them with flour following a postgame huddle.
“Our coaches got us good last year. They got us with squirt guns and everything,” Northern said.
But the veteran players got revenge.
“Yesterday we were hanging them out in the pool after our games. A couple girls took [the coaches’] room keys. They had to wait half an hour to get a new one ready. So they think they’ve got everything, but we took their squirt guns. They were going to go to Epcot last night to have fun, but we took their room keys so they couldn’t do that.”
And that about sums up this event, held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort as part of the ESPN Rise Games. Top of the Bay has left its quarterfinal heartbreak in the past, and Friday it’ll try to claim its first national championship.
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