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Team Pennsylvania off to 2-0 in quest for yet another berth in @NLClacrosse title game

Tuesday, 17th July 2018

Categories Brine NLC, Girl's/Women's, High School, NLC, NLC Lacrosse  

By Chris Goldberg, Posted 7/17/18

FREDERICA, Del. – Kennard-Dale 2020 midfielder Jenna Soukaseum said it was easy to decide to try out for the Pennsylvania High School girls’ team in the National Lacrosse Classic – having known about its reputation as a yearly championship contender.

PA’s Jenna Soukaseum (left), Kira Sides

“I come from a really good program that has gone to the state championship (in Class AA) twice in a row and that was empowering and I wanted to put myself out there,” she said. “I wanted to take my game to the next level.

“I had been told that Pennsylvania is in the finals almost every year and I wanted to carry that through to this team.”

Thanks to Soukaseum and many others, Pennsylvania – despite having a youthful lineup – opened play today at the NLC at the Delaware Turf Sports Complex with two wins, over Long Island, 11-7, and Illinois, 8-7.

Pennsylvania, coached again by Brooke Watson (assistant coach at Archbishop Carroll) and Kelli Romano (head coach at Friends’ Central) has been to the final three straight years at the NLC and won the title in 2015 and 2016. This year’s team has just one player from the Class of 2019 and 12 2021s, making it one of the youngest teams in the 16-team field.

“We’ve always had a lot of rising seniors, but the younger kids are stepping up,” said Watson. “They are talented players, but they are not experienced in big tournaments.”

That inexperience showed in the second half of the Illinois game when Pennsylvania nearly squandered a 7-2 halftime lead.

“Today in the second half we gave away too many turnovers,” said Watson. “They were too excited; it’s the age. I thought we played very well against Long Island and in the first half against Illinois, but the second half got away from us.”

Said Romano: “They have fight and hustle and when they make a mistake they make up for it.”

Kira Sides (2020 MF, Middle Township-NJ) and Rachel Clark (2021 MF, Conestoga) each scored twice in the Illinois win while Catherine Merritt, Mikayla Cooke (2021 MF, Kittatinny Regional-NJ, Sophia Hoey (2021 MF, Radnor) and Mackenzie Raech (2021 MF, Cardinal O’Hara) each scored once. Two rising sophomores, Aknika Eberl (HS in South Jersey does not have team, Utimate Lacrosse, and Jordan Healy (Springfield-Montco) handled the goaltending duties.

“We are meshing very well, but we let our guard down in the second half of the second game,” said Soukaseum. “Because of that we know now to do that again. We can’t undermine our efforts.

“But the girls really like each other and we are having so much fun. I am really excited for the next two days. This is such a great opportunity.”

Pennsylvania, which is 1-0 in Pool D, will play Delaware (1-0 in Pool D, 2-0 overall with wins over Wisconsin, 8-7 and Ohio, 9-8) Wednesday at 10 a.m. PA then meets Ohio at noon.

“I played last year for Metro New York,” said Sides, who had tried out in that region last year. “I liked the tourney because it gives you good competition. You need to know there are other girls out there and you have to keep working hard to get better.

“We just have to win the draw and relax. We were so scared and tense and that made us mess up and make stupid mistakes today in the Illinois game. We know PA has won this before and we want to win it again.”

In the High School boys’ division, Pennsylvania opened with a 10-7 win over New Jersey and was tied with Long Island late in the third period of its second game. But Long Island scored the game’s final four goals and claimed a 9-5 win.

Mark Sickler (2019 MF/ATT, Hershey), Sean Curcio (2019 ATT, Manheim Township), Anthony Caporuscio (2020 ATT, Crestwood), Dominic Corto (2020 ATT, York Suburban) and Conner Covey (2020 MF, Westminster-MD) scored once each for PA while Ryan Prum (2019, Ridley) and Tyler Dunn (2020, Calvert Hall-MD) stood out at the faceoff X.