AU Week 2: A Shootout and Another Three-Game Sweep for Team Apuzzo

PHOTO COURTESY OF ATHLETES UNLIMITED

Sam Apuzzo dodges against the defense of Meg Douty in Athletes Unlimited Week 2 action Sunday at USA Lacrosse.


SPARKS, Md. — Everything keeps coming up Apuzzo. Even the coin toss.

Sam Apuzzo continued a torrid summer stretch by leading her team to another undefeated weekend in Athletes Unlimited action at USA Lacrosse headquarters, highlighted by a pair of fourth-quarter comebacks.

After a stunning rally Saturday in which it erased a five-goal deficit in the final 5:42 of regulation and defeated Team Moreno in the first-ever Athletes Unlimited shootout, Team Apuzzo exploded for four goals — including a 2-point blast by Charlotte North — in a span of 3:18 late in the fourth quarter to beat Team Arsenault 8-5 on Sunday.

It was a rare offensive outburst in a defensive struggle. Forty-nine possessions between the teams combined ended in turnovers (20), saves (20) or shot clock violations (nine).

“We talked about it in the locker room going into the fourth quarter. We were hurting ourselves,” said North, who leads the league with 25 points and earned 198 leaderboard points with an MVP 1 performance. “We knew what we needed to tune up.”

Struggling mightily on the draw, Team Apuzzo turned to its namesake under center down the stretch. The captain won the last four draws, outdueling U.S. teammate Marie McCool when it mattered most. While Apuzzo did not score for the first time in her Athletes Unlimited career, she did assist North on a nifty pick-and-slip to tie the game at 5 with 5:01 remaining.

Apuzzo’s teams have run the table in consecutive weeks, staking her to the No. 2 spot on the leaderboard following Sunday’s win. She’s 6-0.

“She’s just a born winner,” North said.

Rookie goalie Taylor Moreno held onto the top spot on the leaderboard with 12 saves in an 11-6 loss to Team Johansen in the Week 2 finale. Six of the top 10 spots are occupied by players who were buoyed by suiting up alongside Apuzzo this weekend.







Apuzzo was the player of the match when the U.S. defeated Canada for the gold medal in the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship final July 9 at nearby Towson University.

“It’s been an eventful past few weeks,” she said. “This league is so fun to play in. It’s so competitive, so hard to win. That’s the environment I like to play in. It makes me better.”

Apuzzo said she has learned the nuances of drafting teams of players who complement each other and exhibit chemistry, likening it to recruiting as an assistant coach at Boston College. It’s hard to argue with the results. She’s even mastered the coin toss. After calling tails only to see it come up heads in all three games last week, she went heads-only this week and nailed all three tosses.

“Something’s off with the coin,” she quipped.

A lot seemed off Sunday. Neither team could establish much of a rhythm through the first three quarters. Goalies Kady Glynn (11 saves, 194 leaderboard points) and Caylee Waters (nine saves, 61 leaderboard points) frustrated shooters on both ends. Team Apuzzo defender Lizzie Colson caused two turnovers and added a goal and an assist to rack up 151 leaderboard points.

Shayna Pirreca swept across the top of the arc and zipped a 2-pointer around the hip of her defender to give Team Arsenault a 5-3 lead with 9:28 remaining. But Glynn and Waters went save-for-save on the next five possessions before Ally Mastroianni scored from the elbow to pull Team Apuzzo within one at the 5:39 mark.

North tied it 28 seconds later, then drained a 2-point jump shot with 2:41 left to put Team Apuzzo ahead for good. Sydney Pirreca added an insurance goal 30 seconds later.

Afterward, people were still talking about what transpired Saturday. Trailing 9-4 with just over five minutes remaining, Team Apuzzo rattled off six unanswered goals — including a pair of man-up tallies after Team Moreno’s Mollie Stevens got a red card — to take a 10-9 lead on Apuzzo’s goal with 24 seconds left.

Team Moreno’s Lindsey McKone won the ensuing draw and then Molly Little fed Scottie Rose Growney to tie it at 10 apiece with 11 seconds left.

The teams played to a stalemate in the three-minute overtime, triggering the first-ever shootout with three shooters per side. Apuzzo, North and Katie O’Donnell converted for Team Apuzzo and Glynn preserved a 3-2 margin with a save on Kyra Pelton.

“It was so fun and so nerve-racking at the same time,” Team Apuzzo’s Alex Aust Holman said during the broadcast Sunday on ESPN+. “I haven’t been a part of something like that since my pee-wee soccer days.”

“It was so different,” Apuzzo said. “I think it’s good for our game. It adds a level of excitement.”

WEEK 2 RESULTS

Thursday

Team Apuzzo 12, Team Johansen 6
Team Moreno 12, Team Arsenault 10

Saturday

Team Arsenault 11, Team Johansen 7
Team Apuzzo 11, Team Moreno 10 *

Sunday

Team Apuzzo 8, Team Arsenault 5
Team Johansen 11, Team Moreno 6

* 3-2 OT shootout

LEADERBOARD

1. Taylor Moreno, G (996) *
2. Sam Apuzzo, A (965) *
3. Lizzie Colson, D (814) *
4. Amanda Johansen, M (806) *
5. Kady Glynn, G (791)
6. Sam Geiersbach. A (720)
7. Ally Mastroianni, M (715)
8. Charlotte North. A (713)
9. Dempsey Arsenault, M (668)
10. Haley Warden, M (614)

* Week 3 captains

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