Yellow Jackets 2018 Blue (N.Y.) Beats 'Older Sibling' for Gold at US Lacrosse Northeast Championships
|Madison Sanchez heads upfield for
Yellow Jackets 2018 Blue (N.Y.) in its gold-medal game vs. Yellow
Jackets 2017 Gold Sunday at the US Lacrosse Northeast Championships
at the University of Massachusetts. The eighth-grade 2018 Blue team
knocked off the mostly ninth-grade 2017 Gold team,
©Risley Sports Photography
AMHERST, Mass. – After two days of domination by a pair of the Yellow Jacket (N.Y.) teams in the girls' division of the US Lacrosse Northeast Championships, many anticipated a tightly contested game when the two undefeated titans met in Sunday's championship match-up.
It just didn't work out that way.
Yellow Jackets 2018 Blue, comprised entirely of eighth graders, jumped to a 7-1 halftime lead and coasted to a 9-4 victory over Yellow Jackets 2017 Gold, which featured a roster of mostly ninth graders. This time, the younger sibling prevailed.
"We executed our offense very well against the zone and finished our shots," said Yellow Jackets 2018 coach and program founder Carol Rainson-Rose. "This team is very quick, very athletic and plays with a very high lacrosse IQ. Even so, I thought the game would be a lot closer."
Time and again in the final, Yellow Jackets 2018 seemed a step quicker to the ball and sharper in its execution than its older sibling. Midfielders Madison Sanchez and Madison Rielly were repeatedly able to find open space or run past defenders to create scoring chances. Both scored twice in the first half to help build the lead for YJ 2018.
The advantage eventually grew to 9-1 midway through the second half before three late goals by YJ 2017 narrowed the final margin. Taylyn Stadler also finished with two goals for the winners, while Rachel Masullo recorded two goals for YJ 2017.
"I thought number 16 (Rielly) was the best player on the field," said Yellow Jackets 2017 coach Al Bertolone. "We didn't move the ball as quickly as they did. They did a better job of catching and throwing."
Bertolone's postgame disappointment may have been tempered somewhat by the fact that both teams are products of the same highly-acclaimed program based on Long Island, and by his respect for Rainson-Rose. He has coached in the Yellow Jackets program with her for 12 years.
"I can't say enough good things about Carol. She is truly a pioneer," Bertolone said. "She has established a great year-round program with a solid core of people who have been together for quite a while."
That familiarity was clearly on display throughout the Northeast Championships, including Sunday's game. Both teams run the same system and the same sets, and the coaches from each team are as quick to offer advice and pointers to the players on the other Yellow Jacket team as they are to their own.
Even in defeat, Bertolone realized that the true mission had been accomplished.
"Our goal was to come here and qualify two teams for the nationals, and that's what we did," he said.
Both Yellow Jacket squads are committed to playing in at least two more tournaments prior to heading to Aurora, Colo., for the seventh annual US Lacrosse U15 National Championships. The teams also practice once or twice per week.
"These kids are just so dedicated to lacrosse," Rainson-Rose said.
In addition to the two Yellow Jacket teams, third-place finisher Ultimate Elite (Pa.) and fourth place finisher BBL Elite 2018 Black (N.J.) also qualified for the national tournament. They'll receive registration discounts, along with the Yellow Jackets.
Ultimate Elite rallied from a 5-3 halftime deficit to defeat BBL Elite, 9-8, in Sunday's third-place game. Reilly Fletcher scored three times to lead Ultimate, while Sydney Paoletti and Haley Tietjen paced BBL Elite with two goals each.
Earlier in the day, Yellow Jackets 2018 had defeated BBL Elite, 15-5, in one semifinal game and Yellow Jackets 2017 beat Ultimate Elite, 11-4, in the other semifinal.
Granite State U15 (N.H.) downed the Outlaws (Mass.), 8-3, in the fifth-place game.
In addition to championship player medals, US Lacrosse also awarded the "Keeper of Lacrosse" Sportsmanship Award to one team in each division. The girls' winner was New England Storm (Conn.).
The US Lacrosse Northeast Championships for boys' and girls' youth teams will move to Wilmington, Del., in 2015, and the tentative dates of competition are June 19-21.
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