By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/28/15
Team USA U19 coach Kim Simons Tortolani says her team is beginning to jell as bracket competition approaches in the the 2015 FIL World Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“I really think the coaches feel like we have started to click,” said Simons Tortolani, a 1990 Springfield-Montco grad, in an exclusive phone interview with Lacrosse Media websites. “Especially, in our game against Australia (a 19-6 win on Saturday), it was the first time we as a team felt that moment where we were firing on all cylinders.
“I know the coaches felt that the past 12 months we would take a step forward and then take a step back after we’d get together and then be apart for weeks at a time. It’s great to feel like a team that’s not in tryout mode and spend a lot of time together consistently, not just working on X’s and O’s, but getting to know each other and working together.”
The US is 4-0 and atop the elite Pool A, with one more pool play game remaining, tonight against England (7:30 p.m. Scotland time, five hours earlier than EST). On Monday Team USA its day off day from competition to take a history lesson on Monday.
Team USA went sightseeing and one stop was to Saint Leonard’s School in nearby St. Andrew’s where women’s lacrosse was first introduced after Dame Louisa Lumsden and Dame Frances Dove, the first and second Headmistresses of the School, watched a match between men during a visit to Canada in 1884.
Lacrosse Magazine’s Megan Schneider reported that Miss Lumsden later wrote, “It is a wonderful game, beautiful and graceful. (I was so charmed with it that I introduced it at St Leonards).”
Saint Leonard’s began playing the game in 1890, but the United States has been the dominant force in recent times, winning the past four U19 championships. Team USA is favored to win again this year, but Simons Tortolani said the team’s focus is on reaching its potential.
“We try to put that (expectations for a championship) aside,” said Simons Tortolani, a 1994 Princeton grad who captained the team to the NCAA championship her senior year. “The lucky thing is that we are incredibly talented and if we truly believe in ourselves and play our game we will have a great chance to win.
“We try to prepare in a way that we are ready for whatever comes our way. Even though we can’t prepare for everything, the kids have done a great job with focusing on the right things. That helps us to not get too caught up in winning.”
Simons Tortolani and the US coaching staff have been been rotating the players so everyone is playing regularly. The team came into the final training days before going to Scotland in great shape and each player has contributed, Simons Tortolani said.
For example, each of the four Philly girls on the team – defenders Hannah Proctor (Radnor), Sarah Platt (Agnes Irwin) and Natalie Bulgier (Souderton) and midfielder Chloe Jones (Lawrenceville School) – scored at least once in the Australia win.
“We have been rotating through and everyone has played absolutely evenly,” Simons Tortolani said. “We’re fortunate that we have a group of girls that are highly motivated, which is what you’d expect to see on this team.
“I think we have to continue on playing together which is hard when you assemble an all star team. You have to teach kids what it means to be a teammate when everyone’s an all-star. You hear about playing loose and playing with an aggressive mindset; if we can do that we’ll have the greatest opportunity to reach our greatest potential.”