Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/29/13
The Mesa BaggataGirls 2017 Red team continued its strong showing this fall by earning a wild card berth into the championship bracket and later reaching the finals in the Senior A Division in the Tiger Challenge, a small-sided 8v8 tournament operated by Ultimate Events and Sports Management as a fundraiser for the Princeton University Women’s Lacrosse Team last weekend.
In the title match, the BaggataGirls fell to an impressive Yellow Jackets 2015 team, 8-4. The Mesa sister team – the BaggataGirl 2017 Blues – competing in the Senior B Division, finishing fourth among the sixteen teams in the group.
Members of the Mesa BaggataGirls 2017 Red team included Lauren Burns (Conestoga), Casey McAllister (Abington), Liz Scott (Conestoga), Alicia O’Neil (Agnes Irwin), Scottie Rose Growney (Conestoga), Rachel Morris (Abington), Maddie Sjoholm (Abington), Sam McGee (Abington), Maddie Little (Conestoga) and Cassidy Robbins (Goalie/Jenkintown). The Blue team consisted of Anna Seifert (Bishop Shanahan), Alyssa Manley (Bishop Shanahan), Cathy Staerk (Mount St. Joseph’s), Maddie Medve (Goalie/St. Agnes), Reagan Fitzgerald (Mt. St. Joseph’s), Kateri Krouse (Mount St. Joseph), Casey McKeever (Mount St. Joseph), Jules Greco (Abington) and Rebecca Morris (Abington Junior High School).
The Senior A Division featured three pools of teams, each consisting of four entries, organized into “Tiger,” “Stripes” and “Palmer” brackets. Pool play games were 17 minutes and played in a half-field format, very much like half-court basketball in which a team has to clear the ball to reset its offense. The BaggataGirls beat Illinois Elite and Garden State Elite 2015 in pool play, but dropped a close and hotly contested game to the Yellow Jackets 2017 to finish second in the Stripes bracket.
Despite the loss, they landed the one wild card slot in the championship round by winning the tiebreaker, having given up the fewest amount of goals in the preliminary round relative to other eligible 2-1 teams in the division. In their semifinal, the BaggataGirls faced Ridgewood Maroon, winner of the “Tiger” bracket. The team took an early lead and held off a forceful Ridgewood charge in the end to win the game by a goal, 8-7. In the other semifinal, the Yellow Jackets 2015 team dispatched their 2017 compatriots. The younger Yellow Jackets squad, an impressive group in its own right, topped Ridgewood in the consolation game to finish 4-1 on the day.
The championship game pitted a young but maturing BaggataGirls ensemble against a veteran and conspicuously talented Yellow Jacket 2015 team. The BaggataGirls started strong and scored on their first two possessions, taking an early 2-0 lead and generating a buzz of their own.
But the Yellow Jacket juniors, the class of the tournament, weathered the initial BaggataGirl flurry and soon turned the tide. Yellow Jackets pressure forced several BaggataGirl turnovers on successive possessions, which the Long Island team converted into goals of their own to regain the initiative and claim the lead. Poised, patient and skilled, the Yellow Jackets slowed it down, spread things out, and exploited the space with their quickness as the BaggataGirls were constrained to extend their perimeter and pressure the ball to get back in the game.
That proved to be a winning formula for the Yellow Jackets, and Nikki Ortega, a Notre Dame commit and one of the top 2015s in the country, proved to be too difficult to contain in the open field. The BaggataGirls managed a few stops on defense but were repeatedly frustrated in their effort to trim the four goal margin, ironically hitting the post four times in the waning minutes of play. They ultimately bowed to a superior squad, which was equally gracious in victory.
Still, it was a laudable effort by the BaggataGirls after being granted the wild card reprieve to play for a third title this fall. It was also a valuable experience to build on. The team, which won both the University of Delaware 5v5 and the Lehigh University 7v7 September Spectacular in the past few weeks, will continue its tournament season at Penn State on October 19th.