USA Shines in Athletes Unlimited Exhibition Before Home Crowd

PHOTO BY NICK IERADI

Marie McCool scored a pair of goals in the U.S. team's 15-8 victory over Athletes Unlimited on Wednesday night at Stony Brook.


STONY BROOK, N.Y. — Five years ago the United States women’s lacrosse team hoisted the World Cup trophy high above their heads as they celebrated in Guildford, England. It was a magical moment, but on Wednesday night, this year’s U.S. players got a taste of what could come.

The U.S. defeated a team of talented players from Athletes Unlimited 15-8 before a spirited crowd of 2,250 spectators at Stony Brook’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

Long after the final whistle, throngs of young fans leaned over the railing to get autographs, yelling out the names of their heroes.

“To the see the turnout tonight – it’s a Wednesday night, a school night and some of these girls probably had practice beforehand,” said U.S. midfielder Marie McCool, a member of the 2017 U.S. gold-medal winning squad. “For them to come here and support us, we know that it’s going to be a great turnout in Towson and to play in front of our home fans is going to be awesome.”

The United States will host the 2022 World Lacrosse Women’s Championship from June 29 through July 9 — the first game taking place three weeks from tonight will be a rematch between 2017 gold medal participants USA and Canada. Delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. team relishes every chance it gets to play.

“I think it’s been about seven months since the last time we’ve been together,” McCool said. “It’s just so great to be back on the field with the team and start to build that chemistry going into this summer.”

The U.S. took little time coming together on Wednesday night. Long Island native Sam Apuzzo scored the first goal of the game just over two minutes into the game and then back-to-back goals by Charlotte North helped lead the U.S to a 5-0 lead after the opening quarter.

But the game was anything but a runaway.







The Athletes Unlimited squad featured many players that participated in the U.S. team tryout process and they came roaring back. Athletes Unlimited outscored the U.S. 4-1 in the second quarter, cutting the U.S. halftime lead to 6-4 after Shayne Pirreca scored with 33 seconds left in the opening half.

The teams traded goals from there with Athletes Unlimited getting to within 8-6 on a Sydney Watson goal with 4:56 left in the third quarter.

A free position goal by McCool as the third quarter ended gave the U.S. a 10-6 lead and just as it started strong, it finished strong. The U.S. ripped off five straight goals in the fourth quarter, two of them by Stony Brook alum Kylie Ohlmiller who was playing on her home turf, to pull away.

U.S. midfielder Taylor Cummings played a huge role in the victory, helping the U.S. dominate possession with a 19-7 advantage on draws. Cummings had a game-high eight draw controls in the win.

North paced the U.S. offense with three goals and an assist while Molly Hendrick, McCool, Ohlmiller and Kayla Treanor each scored twice.

Alyssa Parrella paced the Athletes Unlimited offense with two goals and Watson had a goal and an assist.

The exhibition game wrapped up a mini training camp for the team. They’ll spend Thursday doing some team-bonding activities before heading to New York City for the USA Lacrosse Foundation Legacy Gala which will honor past U.S. team players Kyle Harrison, Paul Rabil and Crista Samaras.

Then it’s on to the long-awaited world championship where the U.S. will be looking to do something no host country has ever done — win it all. The last two times the U.S. hosted the event — 1986 and 2005 — Australia beat the U.S. in the gold medal game. This team thinks the home crowd will spur it on.

“Some of us were reminiscing on the last World Cup and we can’t believe it was five years ago,” McCool said. “Just to be back and for it to be on U.S. soil as well, it’s just super exciting. We were talking about how it’s awesome that a lot of our friends and family are going to be able to come.”

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