Thursday, August 21, 2008
Updated: August 25, 5:55 PM ET
Underclassmen All-America Lacrosse Classic
By Mike Grimala
TOWSON, Md. – The last thing anyone expects to see in an All-Star showcase is defense. The players have barely met, let alone practiced their rotations, and offensive highlights usually generate the most buzz.
Yet there was Class of 2009 midfielder Sarah Lloyd on Saturday, flying around the defensive end and willing the Baltimore underclassmen girls to an 18-11 victory over the New Jersey squad at the Under Armour All-American Classic. Lloyd didn't score a goal or register an assist, but her physical presence set the tone for the game.
"That's just my style," said Lloyd, a midfielder for Severna Park (Md.). "I don't like to see the other team score."
Archbishop Spalding (Md.) attack Danielle Kirk took home MVP honors with a three-goal, four-assist effort, but it was impossible to ignore the effect Lloyd's defense had on securing the win.
Lloyd entered the game as a substitute with the game tied, 1-1, near the four-minute mark of the first half. Over the next 25 minutes, New Jersey scored just three times, and Baltimore rolled into halftime with a 14-4 lead.
Her effort stood out most around the goal, as she used her physical style to frustrate New Jersey's top scorers. The 5-foot-8 Lloyd deflected passes, pushed opponents off their spots and won just about every ball in her area.
Evan O'Neill, New Jersey's leading scorer with six goals, was astounded by the intensity of the Baltimore defense.
"They were very aggressive," said O'Neill, a Class of 2009 attack from Northern Highlands (N.J.). "They got up into our face and it was hard to get around."
During one 12-minute stretch, in the first half, Baltimore outscored New Jersey, 8-0. Lloyd won two ground balls during that stretch, and she made an outstanding defensive play by knocking down a New Jersey pass in front of the net and muscling her mark off of the ball.
"We wanted to pressure them a lot," Lloyd said. "New Jersey has really good offensive players, but we wanted to get up on them and ride them, and for the most part it worked."
While Lloyd was helping the defense lock things down, Kirk used her outstanding speed to power the Baltimore offense. Kirk was able to consistently beat defenders to the middle and receive passes in position to finish.
And when Kirk had the ball on the outside, she was able to out-quick the New Jersey defense and get around the edge. Once she beat her defender, Kirk was able to find the open man, leading to her team-high four assists.
Molly Fernandez, a 2009 attacker from McDonogh (Baltimore, Md.), was also impressive, notching three goals. All of her tallies came in the first half, including a rocket with 0.6 seconds left that sent Baltimore into the half with a 14-4 lead.
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New Jersey wins boys' underclassmen game
Philadelphia's late charge in the boys' underclassmen championship game came up short, thanks to some clutch scoring from MVP Ryan Foley. New Jersey coughed up a four-goal second-half lead, but Foley came up big with a pair of late goals to help the Jersey All-Stars clinch the win.
The Jersey boys took a 7-3 lead into the half, but Philly out-scored them, 3-0, in the third quarter to close the gap. When Conor Steidle (Class of 2010/Malvern Prep, Penn.) scored an unassisted goal six minutes into the fourth, the game was tied.
That's when Foley took over. With seven minutes to play, he took a pass from Michael Tobin (Class of 2009/Montclair, N.J.) in front of the crease and buried it into the upper corner to give New Jersey an 8-7 lead.
"I just tried to find an open spot," said Foley. "Mike got the ball to me with a great pass, and I threw it in."
Less than two minutes later, Foley gave New Jersey a little insurance by picking up a loose ball about 15 yards out and skipping it past Philly goalie Niko Amato (Class of 2009/Norristown, Penn.).
Philadelphia closed within a goal on a Joseph Sankey score with 2:45 to play, but Jersey attackman Scott Klimchak (Class of 2009/A.L. Johnson, N.J.) put the game away with a goal with 31 seconds on the clock.
"There's so much talent here in this game," Foley said after accepting his MVP award. "Every player on every team is an awesome competitor, so it means a lot to be able to contribute and be able to help our team come away with the win."
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Seligmann stop saves the day
Ben Seligmann left his mark on the boys' underclassmen championship game, turning in a huge defensive play to help New Jersey preserve a late lead.
With Jersey ahead, 9-8, and less than a minute to play, Seligmann found himself on an island. Philadelphia attackman Peter Schwartz (Class of 2010/LaSalle College Prep, Penn.) was storming up the left side, and the only thing standing between him and a clean lane to the net was Seligmann.
The Class of 2010 long stickman from Delbarton (Essex Fells, N.J.) backpedaled, and when Schwartz made his cut about 20 yards from the goal, Seligmann beat him to the spot. Schwartz lost his balance and went down, allowing Seligmann to strip the ball away and send it downfield.
New Jersey ended up scoring on the possession to make it a 10-8 game, eventually holding on for the 10-9 win.
"He was coming down one-on-one, and he was clearly straight to the goal," Seligmann said. "I got in front of him and got lucky, really. Once he went down, I saw his stick and was able to knock it away perfectly and control it. It was the best-case scenario."
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Top goalie stands out
Dan Wigrizer, the top-ranked goalie in the Class of 2009 by Inside Lacrosse, turned in an impressive performance in the boys' championship game. Under intense pressure throughout the first half, the wall from The Haverford School (Villanova, Penn.) allowed seven goals but also made seven saves, including a handful of spectacular stops.
"I feel like I could have played better," Wigrizer said. "When you lose by one goal, you think that one more save and it would have been a tie, and two more saves would have been a win. But considering the talent level of the New Jersey team, I guess I played pretty well."
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Taylor Zebrowski showcased one of the strongest shots during the girls' underlclassmen game. The 2009 attack from Verona (N.J.) scored twice, and all three of her attempts drew "Oohs" from the crowd for their velocity.
Zebrowski finished the championship game with two goals and two assists.
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The box score might not reflect it, but Baltimore girls' goalie Megan Fiorito was one of the best players on the field. She played the second half of the championship game and allowed seven goals, but she had almost no chance on most of the shots.
Forced to stand on her head for 30 minutes, the Class of 2009 product from McDonogh (Phoenix, Md.) finished with eight saves.