High School Girls

April 9, 2013

Nike/US Lacrosse South Region Report

by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com

Related: National Top 25 | Northeast | Mid-Atlantic | Midwest | West

Top Performers

Allison McDonough, Vero Beach (Fla.)

The sophomore goalkeeper played the biggest game of her two-year varsity career in the Fighting Indians' upset of national No. 3 St. Anthony's (N.Y.) on April 3, coming up with 22 saves. McDonough had been sharing minutes with Lucy Moore but earned her stay in goal. St. Anthony's only scored on 8-meter direct shots in the second half.

Mary Kate Nawalaniec, Ursuline (Texas)

The senior midfielder paced the Bears with four goals and two assists in a 13-9 win over Coppell (Texas) on April 5. According to coach Lori Wales, Nawalaniec also played a key part in helping the team dominate possession, winning six draw controls, forcing five turnovers and picking up six ground balls. "Mary Kate is not only an all-around solid player, but also a great leader for our team," Wales said.

Erin McBride, Walton (Ga.)

A freshman attacker, Erin McBride scored 15 goals in three games at the Dogwood Classic at Westminster (Ga.) April 5-6. She had five goals and seven draw controls in the championship game to earn Co-MVP honors for the tournament. McBride also had a game-high six goals in an 18-6 win over Etowah (Ga.) on March 28.

Games to Watch

Milton (Ga.) vs. Good Counsel (Md.) – April 13

These two teams were nationally ranked right next to one another in the previous Top 25 poll with Milton at No. 12 and Good Counsel at No. 13, and they meet in the Legacy Cup at Milton. Though Good Counsel has since suffered a second loss, this is another good test for Milton, which then returns to Georgia competition to wrap up its regular-season schedule with four more games.

Vero Beach (Fla.) at Benjamin (Fla.) – April 11

Vero Beach shouldn't have any trouble with Benjamin, but this is a good way for the Buccaneers to measure how much they have improved since last year's 14-8 finish. Benjamin lost to Vero Beach 20-4 last year and just made its way into the South region rankings. No Florida team has come within eight goals of Vero Beach this year. This is the Buccaneers' last regular-season game, while the Fighting Indians play one more.

1. Milton (Ga.), 8-3

The Eagles remain the top team after going 2-2 during a competitive trip to the Virginia/D.C. area from April 5-6. They opened with a 13-9 loss to Loyola (Ill.), the Midwest region's top-ranked team at the time, and a win over Bishop Ireton (Va.). The next day, in the St. Stephen's & St. Agnes Spring Fling, Milton turned away Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) 12-6 and just fell short against national No. 4 Georgetown Visitation (D.C.), losing 13-12 in overtime. Milton's only other loss was to national No. 1 McDonogh.

2. Vero Beach (Fla.), 12-4

The Fighting Indians made a push to return to the top spot by upsetting St. Anthony's (N.Y.), which was ranked No. 3 in the national poll. But having lost to Milton earlier this season, Vero Beach needed some help from two common opponents last week to overtake the Eagles, and didn't get it. Both Vero Beach and Milton lost by one to Georgetown Visitation (D.C.), but Milton had a six-goal margin of victory against Archbishop Carroll (Pa.), whereas Vero Beach only won by two in double overtime earlier this season. Still, the St. Anthony's win was an impressive addition to the Indians' collection.

3. St. John's (Texas), 12-2

The Mavericks remain at No. 3 after earning four more wins over Texas competition, including beating Lamar and Cy-Fair, who both have just three losses. St. John's trailed Lamar by two at halftime but scored six-straight goals en route to a 14-10 win March 28. Freshman Lindsey McKone led the team with four goals, and senior Amanda Leavett, a Princeton signee, added three goals and an assist. The Mavericks' losses were to West region No. 1 Carondelet (Calif.) and No. 3 Amador Valley (Calif.).

4. Lassiter (Ga.), 9-2-1

The Trojans move up a notch after going 1-2-1 during a challenging two-day stretch of four out-of-state games from April 5-6. They beat Glenelg (Md.) 14-13 and tied New Trier (Ill.), the Midwest region's No. 2 team, but lost to Bishop Ireton (Va.) 15-12, and Marriotts Ridge (Md.) 24-6. Marriotts Ridge was the No. 9 team in the Baltimore Sun rankings. Coach Faith Harmeyer said she is hoping these out-of-state games prepare them for a postseason run. Lassiter already owns a win over Hutchison (Tenn.) and has one more out-of-state game April 12 against Good Counsel (Md.).

5. Barron Collier (Fla.), 12-3

The Cougars fall a spot after going 0-3 against out-of-state opponents to end their perfect season – though all three games were competitive. Barron Collier lost 11-10 to both Regis Jesuit (Colo.) and Holy Cross (Md.), with the latter going into triple overtime. Even the 13-8 loss to Harriton (Pa.) was an improvement from last year's 20-7 defeat. Olivia Ferrucci had six goals and two assists in the Holy Cross game.

6. Hutchison School (Tenn.), 10-2

The Sting stays put despite winning four more games and extending their win streak to seven since dropping games to Lassiter (Ga.) and Milton (Ga.) in early March. Among the latest victories was a 10-8 win over Ensworth (Tenn.) in a rematch of last year's state title game. After leading 5-3 at halftime, Hutchison fell behind 6-5 early in the second stanza, but scored five straight and held on for the win. Junior midfielder Sandy Smith scored the tying and go-ahead goals and also added an assist during the rally. Emily Mayzell had five goals in a 15-8 win over Harpeth Hall (Tenn.).

7. Walton (Ga.), 9-1-2

The Raiders move up from the No. 9 spot after going 2-0-1 in the Dogwood Classic from April 5-6 and sharing a piece of the tournament title with host Westminster (Ga.). Walton opened the tournament with a 16-6 win over St. George's (Tenn.) and advanced into the championship game with a 17-12 win over Upper Arlington (Ohio), which at the time was the No. 6 team in the Midwest region rankings. In the championship, Westminster had a 13-11 lead with two minutes to play, but the Raiders rallied with goals by Caroline White and Kylie Holthaus to end the game in a draw. Georgia High School Athletic Association rules prevent members from playing overtime against teams from different classifications.

8. Ursuline Academy (Texas), 9-0

The Bears picked up another two wins against Allen (Texas) and Coppell (Texas) to earn the top seed going into the playoffs and remain unbeaten with just one more game left on their schedule before the postseason begins April 20. Notre Dame-bound goalkeeper Jennifer Blum and senior midfielder Emily Merkel, who is signed to play at Catholic University, lead Ursuline.

9. Benjamin (Fla.), 15-0

The Buccaneers make their debut in the rankings with the help of a win over Bartram Trail (Fla.), a team that knocked previous No. 10 Lake Brantley (Fla.) out of the mix. Though Benjamin played just one out-of-state game, its 21-5 win over Northview (Ga.) compares to Hutchison's 16-6 victory five days prior. The Buccaneers also have a notable win over 2012 state runner-up Bishop Moore (Fla.). Sophomore Maria Dattolo was leading Benjamin with 76 goals and 15 assists through 14 games, while junior Hayley Ciklin had 56 goals and 51 assists as the leading point scorer (107).

10. Green Hope (N.C.), 7-1

The defending state champion Falcons have won seven straight since opening their season with a 16-15 overtime loss to East Chapel Hill (N.C.), which is now 6-2 with a loss to a Charlotte Catholic (N.C.) team, which Green Hope beat. The Falcons, coming off a 20-0 season, hadn't lost a game since the 2011 Elite Eight, but they've rebounded with some wins over top teams in North Carolina. In addition to handing Charlotte Catholic one of its two losses in a rematch of last year's state championship game, Green Hope accounts for Cardinal Gibbons' (N.C.) lone loss.

News and Notes

Indians down Friars

After losing three games by two goals or less to out-of-state opponents, Vero Beach (Fla.) finally broke through against St. Anthony's (N.Y.).

The Fighting Indians beat the Friars 13-12 with the help of an eight-goal effort by Katy Pridemore, and they never trailed in the second half.

Vero Beach coach Shannon Dean called it a game of "redemption." St. Anthony's was ranked No. 3 nationally at the time.

"Going into this game, we talked about redemption because we were close in three losses to out-of-state opponents, all one or two-goal games, and we needed to redeem ourselves as a program," Dean said. "They came out and responded well."

The Indians had lost 19-18 to then No. 5 Georgetown Visitation (D.C.), 11-9 in overtime against Conestoga (Pa.) and 14-13 to Milton (Ga.), which was No. 13 in the most recent national poll.

St. Anthony's (N.Y.) was the last of seven out-of-state games on Vero Beach's schedule, as the Indians finished 3-4 against non-Florida teams, including a 12-6 loss to national No.1 McDonogh (Md.).

Still on Top

Hutchison (Tenn.) didn't play its best game in the win over Ensworth (Tenn.), but coach Sam Ziegler said she hopes the second-half comeback was a wakeup call to her players.

The Sting won the game 10-8 in a rematch of their 2012 state championship victory.

"It was definitely a good test to see where the rest of the state is right now, but we didn't play our best," Ziegler said. "Everyone is out to get us now, and everyone is going to give us their best game, so we are going to have to be on top of our game going forward."

Hutchison's next big tests are April 13-14 against Ravenwood (Tenn.) and unbeaten Pope John Paul (Tenn.), which Ziegler said "could set the stage for the playoffs."

Ziegler is hoping the Sting's experience during a four-game stretch against Georgia competition earlier this season helped her players become better prepared for the top teams in Tennessee. Hutchison dropped games to Milton and Lassiter during that stretch, but the Sting won the other two games.

"The thing I tell them is if we play strong out-of-state teams, it's going to help us against strong in-state teams," Ziegler said. "I think it was good for us to lose those two games so we could come back with a little chip on our shoulder."

The Sting especially learned the need for better conditioning during the loss to Milton. With a small roster and not as much depth as bigger schools, Hutchison, a small private school, doesn't have as many subs and plays the same 15-16 players all the time. Fitness is a main focus, Ziegler said.

Midfielder Sandy Smith, attacker-turned-midfielder Lauren Atkins and defender Bridget Boyer have led Hutchison in recent games.

Tournament Champions

Walton (Ga.) made an impressive comeback to earn its share of the Dogwood Classic crown in its first trip to the annual tournament. After trailing Westminster (Ga.) 7-1 at one point and going into halftime down 9-4 the Raiders tied the game with 30 seconds left to end the game in a 13-13 draw.

Westminster's Caroline Hays led all scorers with six goals in the game. The host school has earned at least a share of the tournament title four years in a row.

Check back to LaxMagazine.com every other Tuesday throughout the high school season for updates to the Nike/US Lacrosse Regional Girls' Top 10 rankings and the Nike/US Lacrosse National Girls' Top 25.

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