South Women, North Men Dominate in Under Armour All-American Showdowns
By Dave Lomonico
They came from the North: Massachusetts, New York and Ontario. They came from the South: Virginia and North Carolina. They came from the far West: California and Colorado. And then, of course, there was the glut of 24 from Maryland who were already in the middle of Lacrossetown, U.S.A., where all corners of North America converged last weekend.
In all, 88 high school senior lacrosse players made the journey to Baltimore, the mecca of lacrosse, for the second annual Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic at Loyola College’s Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. They are the cream of the crop who will, in a few short months, call themselves Wahoos, Terrapins, Blue Devils, Greyhounds, Blue Jays or any other Division I team name of the powerhouses that cover the East Coast.
Loyola Blakefield's Tim Donovan will play for Johns Hopkins in the fall.
All-Americans like Andrew Brancaccio (Georgetown), Steven Boyle (Johns Hopkins) and Will Yeatman (Notre Dame) starred in the UA game last year; so did All-Rookies like Brittany Kalkstein (Virginia) and Emily Schaknowski (Delaware).
Last weekend, the top 44 male and the top 44 female recruits got one more chance to show off their skills in a battle of North vs. South. This game wasn’t just another show-off, all-star event. The players didn’t come all the way from places like Poway, Calif., just to flash their sticks for the spectators who paid anywhere from $10-$25 to get a glimpse of the “next big name” in college lacrosse.
On the women’s side, that name was Corey Donohoe, the phenom from North Harford High in Harford County, who spurred the South team to a 14-11 victory over the North. To say Donohoe controlled the game would be an understatement; her five-goal performance earned her the game’s MVP honors.
“It’s awesome [to get the MVP award]. It’s a great way to end,” Donohoe said. “I’m just so excited. I’m excited for college.”
Whenever the South fell into a lull, Donohoe quickly changed the momentum, using a physical style of play uncharacteristic of most of the players on the field. On her first two scores, Donohoe worked her way into the crease, threw a hedge move and then whipped a shot over the goalie’s shoulder. On her next three, she simply bulled her way inside, overpowering smaller defenders.
“I knew what she could do, she’s dangerous,” said South coach Brooke Kuhl-McClelland, who helped lead Mount Hebron to a 103-game win streak and has seen Donohoe terrorize her team in the past. “I know what she’s capable of, and I’m fortunate that this time she was on my team instead of facing her.”
The win had significance for Kuhl-McClelland because three of her Mount Hebron seniors -- Bria Eullit, Jacqueline Giles and Jackie Doherty -- were selected to the squad. The game marked the last time they would play for her.
“That’s what made it really special,” Kuhl-McClelland said. “At least they can say they won their last game and go out in a winning fashion one more time.”
The South squad was overwhelming. It boasted a number of players from Baltimore, and their familiarity with each other provided a distinct advantage. They were quicker, better positioned and their chemistry was more refined than the shaky North side. “We knew what [the North] were capable of, and one of the things we thought about doing was trying to stop them in their transition,” Kuhl-McClelland said. “We knew that we had a lot of firepower, and we knew that if we spread out and took our time we would get the goals.”
At the halfway mark of the first half, Doherty heeded her coach’s call by putting one in from five yards out to double up the North, 6-3. Less than a minute later, Giles spun between a pair of defenders and fed a cutting Katherine Denkler, who laid it in from point-blank range for a 7-3 South lead. The Mount Hebron all-stars were in full force. Brandi Jones capped off the South scoring before the North went on a 2-0 run with goals by Shaylyn Blaney and Emma Hamm to draw within 8-5 at the 2:37 mark. Their flame was quickly put out as the South’s Morgan Miller drilled a shot with just 23 seconds left for a 9-5 halftime advantage.
Right on cue, Donohoe opened the second half with a score, her third of the day, but the North side wasn’t about to give up. It took just two minutes for three straight goals, including Kaitlyn Messinger’s third tally, to draw within two, 10-8.
But whenever the North made a move, Donohoe had an answer.
“We were up against a good North team and I knew [Donohoe] would get the job done,” Kuhl-McClelland said.
Donohoe ended the North’s run at 17:43 with her fourth score of the day, and at 11:25, she muscled her way through for a fifth goal to put the South up, 13-9. Her teammates worked the clock the rest of the way, and the South survived two more North goals in the final 10 minutes before adding a final tally of their own, setting the score at 14-11. After the game, Donohoe was soaking in the atmosphere of the all-star game.
“They’re [all] great players, and they’re great people,” she said. “It’s just really fun to play with all different people because I know that I’ll never get to play with them again.”
While there was only one player takeover in the girls’ game, the boys’ game was a slightly different story. Instead of just one, it was a whole team that stood above the rest. The mammoths from the North compared favorably to players on a college squad, and their brute force was more Georgetown than Boys’ Latin.
Fittingly, the North squad wore dark blue uniforms while their brothers to the South donned rebel Grey, but the game resembled the Civil War in more ways than the unis. The North was bigger and quicker and could boast the best recruits in the country, most coming from New York. While the South hung in the game early, by the middle of the second quarter it was waving the white flag. In the end, the North slugged out the South in a 20-10 laugher.
“When you have such talented players, you just get it done,” said the North’s coach, Paul McDermott. “It’s just an amazing thing to have the best of the best playing together -- on both sides. We got our transition game going, and it worked out well.”
The North jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with goals by Dean Gibbons and Rhamel Bratton, but the South worked for the next three minutes, managing to tie the game with goals from Tim Donovan and Travis Reed.
That was as close as the South got. The last five minutes of the first quarter belonged to the North, who went on a three-goal run to take a 5-2 lead. Matt Langen started the run, Garett Ince followed up with the first of his four goals and Shamel Bratton, Rhamel’s brother, rounded out the scoring.
Ince and the Bratton brothers were just three of the nine players on the North squad who are headed to the University of Virginia in the fall. To give fans a glimpse of things to come, McDermott ran all nine UVA-bound players on the same line. Needless to say, he didn’t regret the decision.
“That was fun,” Shamel Ratton said. “You get a preview of what that [Virginia team] might look like. All of those guys, and me and my brother … that was great. It just goes to show that [UVA] is going to be great for a long time.”
The Bratton brothers were far from finished in the game, however. They combined for five goals and six points, and their size and quickness were more than the South could handle.
The twins impressed Ince, who said he couldn’t wait to play with them for the next four years at Virginia. “[The twins] are great, just great,” said Ince, the game’s MVP.
Rhamel Bratton opened up the second quarter with a rocket from eight yards out to put the North up by four, but the South charged back with goals from a pair of Georgetown Prep products, Ryan Shuler and Bray Malphrus, and a third score from Jack McBride to draw within one, 6-5, at the 6:18 mark.
But the North started a four-goal blitz as Ince scored a pair of goals with Shamel Bratton’s second goal of the day sandwiched in between for a 9-5 lead. The North registered double digits on Joel White’s layup right before the half.
The second half started with five more North goals and a commanding 15-5 lead midway through the third frame. Gibbons and Langen notched their second goals during the run. The South didn’t score until Shuler converted on an extra-man opportunity at 7:49, making it 15-6. Both sides scored once more in the frame, which included an assist by Shamel Bratton.
You know you’re defeated when the opposition starts scoring from 20 yards out, which is where Josh Amidon hit from to give the North a 17-7 advantage at the start of the fourth quarter. By this point, both teams looked like they would rather be in study hall than on the lacrosse field. But amid the lackluster defense and a pace that resembled a grandmother with a walker, both teams managed three goals, highlighted by Shamel Bratton’s third of the day -- giving him a total of four points -- and Ince’s final goal. Despite the score, Ince knows that the South side had talent, and he refused to judge them from an all-star game.
“We just got a few quick goals and the momentum shifted our way,” Ince said. “We got on a roll and they couldn’t stop us.”
Issue 2.25: June 21, 2007