High School Girls

June 23, 2014

Nike/US Lacrosse South Girls' Season Rewind

by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com

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

Top 10

1. Vero Beach (Fla.), 21-3

2. Milton (Ga.), 19-3

3. Hutchison (Tenn.), 22-0

4. Walton (Ga.), 14-7-1

5. St. John’s (Texas), 20-4

6. Lassiter (Ga.), 17-4

7. Ponte Vedra (Fla.), 19-4

8. Lamar (Texas), 13-4-1

9. Barron Collier (Fla.), 18-6

10. Sacred Heart (Ky.), 21-3

Katy Pridemore played against some top competition with Vero Beach this season, proving the talent that earned her a committment to Florida before she changed her mind and opted instead to attend Liberty University. (Andy Lewis)

South Player of the Year

Katy Pridemore, Vero Beach (Fla.)

Dominating the competition in Florida is one thing, but it takes a really special player to do it against a schedule that included seven nationally-ranked teams.

Pridemore was that type of player – and more. This year, the senior attacker/midfielder also played through a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery after the season. Always stepping up in big games, despite the pain and double and triple teams, she was a player Vero Beach relied on during its run to a ninth consecutive state final win and No. 4 national ranking.

The Liberty University signee finished with 76 goals, 40 assists and 33 draw controls, an even the best teams in the country couldn't stop her. Six of her goals came against national No. 5 Milton (Ga.), five at No. 17 St. Anthony's (N.Y.), four against No. 10 Georgetown Visitation and three at No. 2 Moorestown (N.J.).

Pridemore, who originally committed to Florida, was a three-time US Lacrosse All-American and All-League first team selection. She was twice named the Florida Dairy Farmers' "Miss Lacrosse" Player of the Year and also was the 2013 and 2014 Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers All-Area Player of the Year.


Kell High School (Ga.)

Longhorns coach Todd Utt said he knew his team could do something special early on this season. He had no idea that would mean 20 wins and the program's first state title.

A year after suffering a 17-9 loss to Charlotte Catholic (N.C.), Kell accounted for the Cougars' only loss in 2014. The Longhorns edged Catholic by two goals on March 28 as part of a 10-0 start to the season, a streak that Lassiter (Ga.) ended with a 13-7 decision – the closest Kell has ever come to the Trojans.

Six days later, the Longhorns beat four-time defending state champion Westminster (Ga.), 14-9, and that's when Utt's team started to believe.

"After the win against Charlotte Catholic, who beat us pretty bad last year, and playing well against Lassiter, we were feeling pretty good, but our confidence went through the roof after we beat Westminster," Utt said. "We knew we could possibly make a run for the title."

Kell had never even been to a Final Four before this year, but got there with an 18-12 win over Northview (Ga.) – a game in which Leslie Ferguson scored five goals, Haley Swift had eight assists and goalkeeper Hannah Rosen grabbed 18 saves.

The Longhorns came away with a pair of nerve-wracking, one-goal victories in the state semifinals and final, capping a near-perfect season with an 11-10 victory over area rival Westminster in the championship. Sarah Bialecki scored the go-ahead goal with about two minutes left, and the Longhorns forced a late turnover to hold on for the win.

"It was a huge step for our program being able to win that game," Utt said. "Our goal was to make the playoffs and hopefully win the state title. (Westminster) has been there so many times before, and we were able to compete with them and actually beat them twice so it was a huge step for our program."

Though Lassiter accounted for the one blip on the Longhorns' record, Utt considered that game "a moral victory" and another sign his program is headed in the right direction.

"That was the closest we've come since our program started 10 years ago," Utt said. "I think we're starting to close the gap with them and starting to compete at the highest level in the state."

Kell finished as the No. 4 power-rated team in Georgia, according to LaxPower.com, and averaged 16.6 goals per game on offense, while allowing 7.2 goals per game on defense.

Utt said there was nothing really unique about this group of players, except that they seemed to play more as a team and share the ball better than in the past. Their display of trust carried them to a memorable finish, he said, but one the Longhorns hope is just the beginning of more to come.

"It was a fun year," Utt said. "Going 20-1 was a great accomplishment, but I'm just so proud how far they've come since I started coaching them three years ago. It was not necessarily the best-skilled team but the best team we've had since I started."

2014 South Region Report Archive

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