North Scores Six, But USA Blue Edges USA White 13-12

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

USA Blue's Taylor Cummings (21), Izzy Scane (49) and Kenzie Kent (39) celebrate after Scane's goal tied the game at 10 with 14:09 remaining.


SPARKS, Md. — The dull roar started midway through the first quarter when Charlotte North stepped to the line for a free position.

A theretofore docile crowd at USA Lacrosse’s Tierney Field started buzzing with anticipation, kids arching their necks around adults seated in front of them for an up-close look at the blistering shot they’d heard so much about.

Goalie Caylee Waters ranged left and dropped to the ground to make the save, and the stage was set for both U.S. hopefuls to shine.

The decibel level rose very time North touched the ball. The Tewaaraton Award-winning attacker for NCAA champion Boston College suited up for USA White and rewarded the capacity crowd of 500 with six goals and an assist — all in the second quarter.

The barrage included a vintage North sidearm riser after midfielder Marie McCool fed her the ball off the draw, her hips opening as she squared to the goal and beat Waters.

“She’s a born killer,” said USA Blue attacker Sam Apuzzo, who’s playing with North for the first time since coaching her as a volunteer assistant at BC. “She’s a threat no matter where she is on the field.”

But Waters was every bit as breathtaking, making nine first-half saves to keep USA Blue within striking distance. Trailing 10-7 at halftime, the Blue team rallied for a 13-12 victory Wednesday in a USA Blue-White exhibition, the centerpiece of a three-day training camp featuring 36 of the nation’s best women’s lacrosse players.

“So fun,” said USA Blue defender Alice Mercer, who put the clamps on North in the second half and keyed a defensive turnaround in which Blue limited White to just two second-half goals. “It was so fun not only to get back out on the field, but to play in front of people.”







The starting lineups read like a murderer’s row. USA White trotted out Kayla Treanor, Jamie Ortega and North on attack and Ally Kennedy, Ally Mastroainni and McCool at midfield. USA Blue countered with an attack line of Kylie Ohlmiller, Izzy Scane and Apuzzo and a midfield group of Dempsey Arsenault, Taylor Cummings and Sam Swart.

Both sides flew up and down the field for the first 30 minutes, showing an appetite for transition and a penchant for turnovers.

But USA Blue won the scrimmage the international way — sustaining longer possessions with crisp ball rotations and punctuating them with high-percentage shots. Defensively, Mercer matched North’s physicality and blunted her at the point of attack. The rest of the unit followed suit.

“We made a few adjustments, one putting Alice Mercer on Charlotte,” said U.S. head coach Jenny Levy, who worked with the USA Blue team. “And then taking better care of the ball. Toughness-wise, we dug out a come-from-behind win. A lot of different players showed moments of toughness and made little plays that turned into big plays.”

USA Blue blanked USA White in the third quarter and scored three unanswered goals in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter to go ahead 11-10 — its first lead of the game. The run started with a free-position goal by Cummings, who won the ensuing draw and was the pivot point of a tic-tac-toe fast break finished by Scane. Lindsey McKone capitalized on a broken play in front, snaring a loose ball out of the year and depositing it in the goal to cap the rally.

It took just nine seconds for USA White to respond, however, as McCool won the next draw to herself and took it all the way to score, tying the game at 11 with 13:21 remaining.

USA Blue scored twice more to take a 13-11 lead. Arsenault hit on a free position — a high-to-high heater that shook the crossbar — and Ohlmiller scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 5:03 left.

Mastroianni converted an Olivia Dirks feed to pull USA White within one with 2:58 left, but Apuzzo won the ensuing draw and USA Blue controlled possession for the remainder of the game to close out the win.

“It was a lot of back-and-forth in the beginning,” Apuzzo said. “We went down in the first half. We just wanted to stay patient, make our offense flow a little more smoothly and we were able to capitalize in that fourth quarter.”

North nonetheless stole the show with her second-quarter fireworks display.

“She’s the real deal, there’s no doubt about that,” said U.S. assistant coach Joe Spallina, who was on the USA White sideline. “She’s got that star power. I like the way she approaches the game. I like the way she’s so smart and selective as a shooter. As much as she knows everybody here wants to see her hammer the top corner, she takes good care of the ball. If the low shot’s the one that’s going to go, she’s going to take it. If it’s a top-corner one, I don’t think she’s shy about that one either.”

And yet USA White struggled when the pace slowed, illustrating the challenge this U.S. coaching staff faces in its preference to play an up-tempo, high-risk, high-reward brand of lacrosse when international rules favor the more methodical approach. Both Levy and Spallina said they hoped World Lacrosse would consider adding a shot clock to its traditional field disciplines, having seen how rapidly college players’ skill sets have evolved since the NCAA implemented one in 2017.

“You can’t be undisciplined and you can’t let your ego in the way of being smart,” Levy said. “My goal in taking this job is to highlight an amazing style of play that when the little guys watch it, they see the game that they play, but they see it at the highest level. I want to play a very pure game — defensively, through the transition and offensively — but I want to see us play it at the very highest level. That’s my goal with these guys. Keep it simple, but make it amazing.”

USA BLUE 13, USA WHITE 12

 

1

2

3

4

F

USA Blue 3 4 1 5 13
USA White 3 7 0 2 12

Goals

Blue (13): Izzy Scane 3, Sam Apuzzo 2, Dempsey Arsenault 2, Lindsey McKone 2, Kylie Ohlmiller 2, Taylor Cummings 1, Kenzie Kent 1.

White (12): Charlotte North 6, Marie McCool 2, Ally Kennedy 1, Ally Mastroianni 1, Jamie Ortega 1, Kayla Treanor 1.

Assists

Blue (4): Sam Apuzzo 1, Taylor Cummings 1, Molly Garrett 1, Izzy Scane 1.

White (5): Marie McCool 2, Olivia Dirks 1, Ally Kennedy 1, Charlotte North 1.

Draw Controls

Blue (12): Dempsey Arsenault 4, Taylor Cummings 3, Lindsey McKone 3, Sam Apuzzo 2

White (16): Olivia Dirks 5, Ally Mastroianni 4, Marie McCool 2, Belle Smith 2, Kayla Treanor 2, Michelle Tumolo 1.

Goaltending

Blue: Caylee Waters (30 minutes, 9 saves, 10 GA), Taylor Moreno (30 minutes, 4 saves, 2 GA)

White: Liz Hogan (30 minutes, 2 saves, 7 GA), Gussie Johns (30 minutes, 6 saves, 5 GA)

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