Every Moment Really Counts as Athletes Unlimited Season Closes

PHOTO BY KAIT DEVIR/ATHLETES UNLIMITED

Taylor Moreno was named the provisional champion atop the Athletes Unlimited leaderboard following Sunday's games.


SPARKS, Md. — Athletes Unlimited’s slogan is “Every Moment Counts.” That was abundantly true on the final day of the 2022 Athletes Unlimited lacrosse season at USA Lacrosse headquarters when Sam Apuzzo and Taylor Moreno were battling atop the AU season-long leaderboard, a unique scoring system that awards points for individual statistics and team success.

In the final minute of the final game of the year, Apuzzo and Moreno were locked in a dead heat at the top of the leaderboard. With Moreno’s team leading the game 9-7 and due to pick up 45 points for the team win, Apuzzo’s team needed a late rally to give her a shot at winning the individual title.

As much as it’s all about team when it comes to lacrosse, it’s impossible to miss the individual race when it’s right in front of you.

“They definitely do a great job of putting those stats up on the board,” laughed Moreno. “It was something I was keeping an eye on, but not really much I could control other than making saves and hoping my team could put the ball in the back of the net on the other end and winning quarters.”

There would be no comeback for Team Apuzzo. All-world midfielder Marie McCool, who had a two-pointer to open the scoring in the game, forced a turnover for Team Moreno, allowing her team to win the final game of the season.

Trailing by 57 points heading into the game, Moreno had flipped the script and rallied to take an 11-point lead going into the final quarter by making a save on a two-pointer by Apuzzo at the end of the third quarter, giving her six points for the save and 40 points for winning the third quarter (with a bonus carryover from the tied second quarter). It was one of five saves that Moreno made on shots by Apuzzo – half of her 10 saves in the game.

Apuzzo scored twice in the fourth quarter to make things interesting, but didn’t have enough to complete the comeback. Ironically, Apuzzo’s old college teammate – Kenzie Kent – did much of the damage against her, scoring four goals for Team Moreno to give them key team points.

The league announced Moreno as the provisional winner of the points leaderboard, but will await for any appeals and a final statistical review before declaring her as the official champion.

It capped a banner 2022 lacrosse season for Moreno who was the starting goalie for North Carolina’s NCAA championship in May.

“Lacrosse has been really good to me this year, this season, both in AU and collegiately,” Moreno said. “I’m super grateful to be able to continue my career post college. AU is awesome and I’ve had so much fun.”







THE NORTH STAR

Charlotte North, perhaps the biggest name in the sport, went out in style with an Athletes Unlimited single-game record of six goals, including three two-pointers, in Team Glynn’s 16-13 loss to Team Johansen in the first game of the day. North finished the summer with a league-high 31 goals and also led the circuit with eight two-pointers.

It capped a crazy six months for North, who carried Boston College to the NCAA championship game with a team-best 92 goals and then was the leading goal-scorer for the gold-medal winning U.S. team with 23 goals at the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship. After 43 games since February, there’s no immediate season ahead of her now.

“It’s kind of weird,” North said. “I’ve been going for a while, but it’s been so fun to be here with everyone and get a chance to compete at the highest level. It’s been a dream come true. It’s kind of strange, it’s going to be a weird adjustment, but I’m excited for what’s next.”

In the immediate future is a trip to Europe for some more lacrosse with players from last year’s Boston College team, but she’s also excited to keep elevating the sport to new heights.

“The game is in such a good place,” North said. “Coming from college lacrosse in a really great place, same with going to compete for a gold medal here in the U.S. with all of our fans around. To come here and see continued support of the game and to have so many people here and nationally-televised is amazing.”

BLOCK REPEATS AS TOP DEFENDER

Becca Block was named as the Geico Defender of the Year for the second straight season. Block, playing for Team Glynn this weekend, had her first AU goal in two seasons on Sunday. She was joined on the all-defensive team by Lizzie Colson, Moreno and Emma Trenchard.

Block, who won a goal medal with the U.S. this summer, her second, was appreciate of the recognition and support from Geico and for the opportunity to simply keep playing.

“To go out here every game and to play and have fun and play against the best attackers in the world is something that’s special,” Block said. “To get to compete at that level is awesome.”

NOTEBOOK

Several players are contemplating their retirement, but one who announced her intention was Amber Falcone McKenzie. The two-time U.S. world champion (2009, 2013) was honored with a tribute on the video board before her last game, including her two young children wishing her congratulations … Jenny Levy, head coach of NCAA champion North Carolina and the gold-medal winning USA team, was among those in attendance on Sunday, supporting her players and Athletes Unlimited … Aurora Cordingley played 46 games from February to Sunday’s game: Maryland (21), Canada/World Championship (8), Canada/World Games (5) and Athletes Unlimited (12).

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