FREDERICA, Del. — Fitting that the two girls’ lacrosse clubs most associated with the US Lacrosse Nationals, fueled by Chipotle, would meet in the championship game of its 10th edition, and that they’d stage a battle worthy of the milestone.

Long Island’s Yellow Jackets, which has appeared every year, outlasted Northern Virginia’s Cardinal, which has only missed two, to win the 14U Division gold medal, 11-9, at steamy DE Turf Sports Complex here today. Yellow Jackets 2022 Team Russell repeated as national champion, having won the 13U title last year. The matchup marked the last of three dramatic divisional finals, each of which streamed live and available for replay, to conclude the national governing body’s yearly renewal for bragging rights among its 300,000-plus youth members.

The championship marked the Yellow Jackets’ seventh at this event’ oldest age group.

“The maturity of this team has been great to see,” Alexis Curcio, coach of YJ Team Russell, said. “They’re the same great girls, but their lacrosse IQ has increase so much, and they understand how the game works and how to help each other out.”

YJ Team Russell 2022

The Jackets got three big saves from reserve goalie Kaitlyn Mongiello in the second half and converted two Cardinal turnovers into Kathryn Mcateer goals to help turn a 6-6 tie at the break into an 11-7 lead with 6:10 to play. Cardinal rallied. Caroline Senich scored with 4:56 to play to cut the lead to three. Defender Gabby Byrne caused a timely turnover to end a Jacket keep-away game, and Katherine Senich fed Avery Darke in transition to pull the Virginians within 11-9 at the 1:30 mark.

A game-long, draw-control chess match between Cardinal’s Jordan Condon and the Jackets’ Marina Bergin started to go the New Yorkers’ way late in the second half, but an offsides penalty continued the redbirds’ comeback. They cleared the ball but committed the same penalty, and the Yellow Jackets claimed victory soon after.

“We got our wits about us at halftime and committed to talking more on defense,” Bergin said. “[Condon] is a hearty opponent. We went at it. It was a great battle — she would adjust to me, then I would adjust to her.”

The youngest of three sisters to play for Cardinal at this event scored twice in the first half as the teams went back and forth like heavyweights. Ella Cabrera fed Nicole Phillips on the break for a 5-3 Jacket lead. Darke began her hat trick by popping free in the middle and using her height to corral a Lindsey Wright feed to pull within one. Cabrera then exploded on a drive from the right wing to give the Jackets a 6-4 lead.

Again Condon would answer, catching the draw herself, taking Cabrera straight to the goal, and beating Jillian McFadden to pull within one. Another Condon win on a draw ultimately set up a Victoria Rankin free-position goal to tie the game with 1:05 left in the half.

“Sometimes when you let in consecutive goals, mentally it can be hard to get past that,” Curcio said. “So I made switch to give [McFadden] a mental break.”

Five minutes into the second half with her team up by one, Mongiello made her presence known, stoning Condon’s free-position shot and starting a transition that ended when Kaylie Mackiewicz converted a Nina DeNicola pass. Mongiello stopped Caroline Senich on a drive a few minutes later.

“It was nerve-wracking, but I was glad it happened,” Mongiello said about her sudden entry. “I just tried to keep watching the ball into my stick and not worrying about anything else that was going on.”

Cabrera helped by not letting Condon touch the ball much in the second half, as the Yellow Jackets capitalized in the second half on the way to the gold medal.

YJ Russell Medals

13U Division: Igloo 2023 (N.Y.) 8, Yellow Jackets 2023 Team Thorn (N.Y.) 7

Igloo

Kylee Colbert drove the left lane and scored her second goal of the game with 3:35 remaining to give Igloo an 8-7 lead that held up, marking Igloo’s second straight US Lacrosse championship after winning the 12U Division last year.

Colbert’s game-winner came after the Yellow Jackets tied the game at 7 on a free-position goal by Emma McLam. But they violated on the ensuing draw, and Igloo quickly got the ball to Colbert near the restraining line.

“My defender was giving me my left hand, but I face-dodged her and saw that the defense behind her was not paying attention — so I went right in,” Colbert said.

Brooke Tolentino also scored twice for Igloo in a back-and-forth game that may have turned out differently in a number of ways had Jacket goalie Alexa Kuhn not saved four shots in the first half and had Alyssa Deacy beaten the first-half buzzer on a shot that would’ve given the Jackets a 5-3 lead.

As it happened, Igloo three times drew even in the second half, taking its first lead since midway through the first half on Colbert’ late goal.

“This group battles everything, on and off the field,” Igloo coach Tim Colbert said. “They love the game and try to do things the right way.”

With the 13U championship, this Igloo team earned an automatic bid to the 14U Division in the 2019 US Lacrosse Nationals.

12U Division: Yellow Jackets 2024 Team Wiener (N.Y.) 8, Lady Blue Crabs 2024 (Md./Del.) 7

YJ 2024 Wiener

The Yellow Jackets scored three goals in the final 10 minutes, including the last two by Isabella Dantuano, to rally past LBC, 8-7, in the 12U championship game. Dantuano’s conversion of an Emma McLean assist with 3:45 to play proved to be the game winner, but only after Madison Brown, who earlier helped LBC take 7-5 second-half lead, narrowly missed the cage with 46.8 seconds left.

Isabelle Leech scored back-to-back goals for the Crabs to stake the first-time entrants to that two-goal advantage with 11:25 to play. Christina Lauro tallied shortly thereafter to bring the Jackets within one. Finally at the 5:00 mark, Dantuono caught a pass from Emma Woods for the game-tying goal, setting the stage for the final moments.

Both goalies played exceptionally well, creating a different story than what transpired in these teams’ round-robin matchup won by the Crabs, 12-11. Alexandra Zenk made seven saves for the Yellow Jackets, and Sophia Smith countered with six.

“This feels great,” Dantuono said. “We worked so hard from October to now to be the best in our bracket. We never gave up.”

Watch the Finals on Demand

Championship games from the 10th annual US Lacrosse Nationals, fueled by Chipotle, are available on the US Lacrosse YouTube channel.

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