Second Time the Charm at USA Lacrosse Youth Nationals


STEPS Elite 2025 Navy (N.J.) won the 15U championship game at the USA Lacrosse Youth Nationals after falling in the 14U final last year.

FREDERICA, Del. — If at first you don’t succeed, try again.

That was theme of the 2022 USA Lacrosse Youth Nationals where two of the three champions enjoyed the triumphant feeling after falling in last year’s championship games.

Hero’s 2027 Green (Md.) won the 13U age division with a 7-2 win over Yellow Jackets Stadler (N.Y.), Yellow Jackets Manning (N.Y.) won the 14U bracket beating Aces Elite 2026 (N.Y.) by a 9-7 score and STEPS Elite 2025 Navy (N.J.) brought home the final title of the day in the 15U division with an 8-4 win over Yellow Jackets Spallina (N.Y.).

In the 13U final, Hero’s 2027 Green used a standout defensive effort to beat Yellow Jackets Stadler 7-2. 

Hero’s scored the first two goals of the game, both of them by Carly Koepsell, to jump out to an early lead and they never trailed. Hero’s goalie Brynn Howes made three of her four saves in the first half and then Sophia Murray had a second half hat trick to carry the offense. 

“This team has really just gelled,” said head coach Liz O’Connor. “Talk about team lacrosse, I think we got contributions from everyone. They just lift each other up and they were here for each other. They just played amazing. Holding Yellow Jackets, who is an awesome team, to just two goals, that’s unheard of.”

Juliann Brzeski and Madison Herr scored the goals for the Yellow Jackets. 

In the 14U final, it was a double shot of redemption for Yellow Jackets Manning. This team fell in the championship game of the USA Youth Nationals a year ago and on Wednesday it met an opponent — Aces Elite 2026 — that it had already lost to earlier this season.

“Between those two, we had a mission,” said Yellow Jackets head coach Chris Manning. “I told them at the beginning of the tournament, you remember how that felt last year and use that to our advantage this year.”

Aces scored the first two goals of the game, but there was no panic from the Yellow Jackets. They eventually reeled off four straight goals and then scored twice in the final minute of the first half to take a 6-3 halftime lead. 

Aces kept plugging away and got to within two goals on four separate occasions in the second half. One of the big plays of the game came with under four minutes to play when Yellow Jackets goalie Abigail Dieumegard made a save on a well-placed free position shot that would have pulled Aces to within a goal. 

Ashley Clark and Sophia Masone each scored twice for the Yellow Jackets, but most importantly, the Yellow Jackets had assists on six of their nine goals, including a pair from Ava Fossati, who also had a goal.

“We preach team play and moving the ball and finding the open girl,” Manning said. “It’s the Yellow Jacket way and that’s what we try to do every day.”

Elizabeth Smith led Aces with three goals and Peyton Rothfuss scored twice.

The 15U championship game was a rematch of last year’s 14U championship game, but this year STEPS came out on top, beating Yellow Jackets Spallina.

“I’m just so proud of them,” said head coach Gianna D’Urso. “They’ve been working so hard all season and I coached them last year and we were in the same position, so it feels really good.”

A goal by Alexa Spallina gave the Yellow Jackets a 3-2 lead late in the first half, but STEPS scored twice in the final 90 seconds of the first half to take a 4-3 halftime lead. They never trailed again and held the Yellow Jackets scoreless for the final 13:40 of the game.

Olivia Nicoll had a hat trick to lead STEPS and Uma Kowalski scored a pair of goals. 

The championship victory coming against the Yellow Jackets made it extra special.

“They’re a phenomenal team and they’re so well-coached and our girls just played hard,” said D’Urso. “We play them in almost every tournament so it’s really nice for the girls to come out with this win.”

Spallina led the Yellow Jackets offense with two goals and an assist.

A total of 189 games were played over the two-day tournament which was sponsored by DJO, Game On mouth guards, Gatorade and MedStar Health.

Complete results are available here.

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