Janie Phillips of 3d Lacrosse 2023 (Ore./Colo.) drives against Ava Mule of Yellow Jackets 2023 Team Wright (N.Y.) during opening day of the 10th annual US Lacrosse Nationals, fueled by Chipotle (Kevin Tucker photo).

FREDERICA, Del. — They competed in qualifier tournaments since October and waited a week longer than precedent for the US Lacrosse Nationals, fueled by Chipotle, so Mother Nature figured teasing the 24 girls’ teams gathered today at sparkling DE Turf Sports Complex with a two-hour lightning delay littered with sunshine between flashes would be no big thing.

It slowed the opener of the national governing body’s 10th annual tournament to determine the best of its 300,000-strong youth membership, but several nailbiters proved more dazzling.

Three unbeaten teams emerged in each of the 14U and 13U divisions, perhaps highlighted by 3d Lacrosse 2023’s (Ore./Colo.) 6-5 overtime win over Yellow Jackets 2023 Team Wright (N.Y.) in a 13U afternoon thriller. Maggie Bankowski of Portland scored her third goal of the game with 2:06 left in overtime to lift 3d. The mostly western team joined NXT 2023 (Pa.) and 2017 12U Division national champion Igloo 2023 (N.Y.) at 2-0.

The latter earned an automatic bid in this age group by winning that national championship a year ago, and Igloo stifled Yellow Jackets 2023 Team Thorn (N.Y.), 6-3, in its opener. Something will have to give in the division Saturday, however, as 3d and NXT meet in the final pool-play game before the top four teams advance to the semifinals.

Meanwhile, the delay that began as first games games reached halftime did not diffuse an in-progress nailbiter to kick off 14U Division play. Lindsey Wright scored with two seconds left to give Cardinal 2022 Red (Va.) a 10-9 win over Yellow Jackets 2022 Team Harney (N.Y.). The winner came just 25 seconds after Megan Kitagawa fed Shannon Smith for a goal that tied the game, completing a Jackets’ rally from a 9-6 deficit in the contest’s final minutes. Deadlocked at 5 at the half, Victoria Rankin scored twice and the Cardinals shut out the Jackets for 20:24 of the second frame to stake the Virginians to the advantage before the Jackets came back.

Cardinal finished 2-0, as did Ultimate Blue 2022 (N.J.) and 2017 13U Division champion Yellow Jackets 2022 Team Russell (N.Y.). Elsewhere in the division, a hat trick by Arianna Andresen helped Yellow Jackets 2022 Team Piscitelli (N.Y.) hold off Coppermine 2022 (Md.), 7-6. Kailyn McIlree sandwiched goals around one by Emmie Franz to help the Marylanders come back in the last seven minutes, but the New Yorkers held on.

Even the 12U Division provided some drama. Yellow Jackets 2024 Team Ramos (N.Y.) edged All American Aim 20204 (N.J.), 7-6, in overtime when McKenzie Moeller scored her third goal of the game. The winner concluded a furious rally from a three-goal deficit with just 3:50 remaining in regulation. Kaitlyn Cole scored with 41 seconds left, and Madeline Morris followed that 15 seconds later to send the game into the extra frame.

The event began with opening ceremonies at Visit Delaware Stadium, highlighted by remarks from 2016 U.S. U19 men’s team gold medalist Timmy Kelly and 2013 U.S. women’s team gold medalist Danielle Etrasco. Kelly has amassed 69 career points heading into his senior year at North Carolina. He twice played in this event for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes national team, helping it win the silver medal in 2012.

Etrasco, now an assistant coach at Georgetown, concluded her address by offering players three keys, among them: “Make your teammates look better than you, and ultimately you’ll play your own best game.”

The US Lacrosse Nationals continues Saturday and concludes Sunday with the divisional championship games, which will be streamed on the US Lacrosse Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.

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