Team Florida U-17 Reaches the finals at Tournament of Champions
Photo credit Winning Photography
This article provided by NDP Lacrosse
The Rising Stars Division National Championship Game pitted one national team (FCA) against one state team (Team Florida). What initially looked like a possible blow-out quickly turned into one of the best games of the tournament.
FCA scored early and often from the get-go. Sophomore midfielder Stephen Kelly (2g, 2a â€“ Lutherville, Md.) had the gameâ€™s first goal just over a minute in. His goal was followed in the next one-and-a-half minutes by tallies from sophomore middie Johnny Kelly (4g – Towson, Md.) and junior attackman Brett Pearce (2g).
Johnny Kelly recorded his second at the 5:24 mark, with junior attackman Sean Donnelly (1g â€“ Peapack, NJ) scoring on a feed from sophomore attackman Bear Altemus (1a â€“ Kensington, Md.) on the man-up at 6:10 to make it 5-0, FCA.
In a game of runs, Team Florida got right back into it with three straight scores: attackman Travis Giarratana (3g – Delray Beach, Fl.) at 13:12, midfielder Kyle Clemenza (1g – N SW Ranches, Fl.) with an assist from attackman Austin Tamayo (1g, 1a – Oviedo, Fl.) at 15:50, and then Tamayo from fellow attackman Jimmy Schorn (1g, 1a â€“ Boca Raton, Fl.) at 23:37.
Held scoreless for more than 18 minutes, FCA responded with 23 seconds to go before halftime as Stephen Kelly recorded his second of the game to give his team a 6-3 cushion at intermission.
Winning the opening face-off to himself and pushing it forward, Team Florida midfielder Grant Mahler (1g) scored nine seconds into the second half. Goals from Florida attackman Conor Whipple (1g, 1a â€“ Lakeland, Fl.) and A/M Chas Moody (Vero Beach, Fl.) in the next six minutes produced the gameâ€™s first tie, 6-6.
FCA midfielder Jon Heneberry (1g â€“ Lutherville, Md.) stopped the bleeding, scoring an unassisted goal at 8:49 as the national team regained the lead by one. His goal was the only one his team would score in the first 21 minutes of the second stanza.
Team Florida tied the game at seven on Giarratanaâ€™s second, and took its first lead, 8-7, on a man-up goal by Schorn (assist to Whipple). Giarratana completed his hat trick and another three-goal run by Team Florida at 18:23 to give his team a two-goal cushion. But it wasnâ€™t enough.
Johnny Kellyâ€™s hat trick cut Team Floridaâ€™s lead to one, and Stephen Kellyâ€™s assist on Pearceâ€™s second at 23:08 tied the score at nine.
Neither team could reach double-digits in regulation, thus sending the title bout into overtime.
Big-time players make big-time plays at key times, and thatâ€™s exactly what Johnny Kelly did. The sophomore rolled from â€˜Xâ€™, curled in front of the goal, and buried a left-handed crank shot from 10 yards out, beating Team Florida goalie Stone Wharton (Jupiter, Fl.) to win it 1:59 into the extra frame. The â€˜Golden Goalâ€™ brought FCA National storming onto the field, celebrating its 10-9 overtime national championship game victory.
Johnny Kellyâ€™s game-high four goals, including the game-winner, earned him championship game MVP honors.
FCA goaltender Tyler Avallone (3 GA – Chester, NJ) played between the pipes in the first half, with winning goalie Preston Anderson (6 GA â€“ Elkridge, Md.) seeing action in the second half and overtime. Wharton played the entire game in goal for Team Florida and, despite a solid performance, took the loss.
While the Road Warriors took home silver medals in the Elite Division, the programâ€™s rising stars team claimed the bronze with a victory over T2 Storm (Md.) in the 3rd-place game.