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Summer Saturday of Lacrosse Action: Weekend Recap

This is a story about a singular summer Saturday that featured four live lacrosse games shown on national television.

The menu was diverse. Insanely talented men, women, boys and girls showcasing the sport. The action Saturday was riveting. ESPN’s commitment to lacrosse is evident and provides a pathway to national prominence, recognition, and eyeballs. The upward trajectory of lacrosse is undeniable. Welcome to the revolution. 

Premier Lacrosse League

At 2:00pm the Premier Lacrosse League faced-off in Dallas at The Star, the Cowboys indoor facility, a super cool arena. Analyst Ryan Boyle was in Frisco calling the action on the mothership ESPN.

“It was an Awesome atmosphere from the moment you saw the Star, to the Premier Zone outside, to the lighting on the field which created a stage or theatre-like atmosphere. The PLL lived up to the setting.”
– Ryan Boyle, ESPN Analyst

Fans witnessed an upper-tier tilt between the Atlas and the Archers. Perhaps this pairing is a preview of the PLL Championship on September 18. The Atlas won 14-9, and have stamped themselves as a prime contender for gold. Meanwhile the Archers are pretty, slick, and skillful but lacrosse requires dirty work.

“Most troubling for the Archers was their lack of success up the middle as they couldn’t win a critical faceoff or get a timely save…coming off his strongest performance as a pro, Justin Inacio went just 8/23 against a recovering Trevor Baptiste and Adam Ghitelman only had 6 saves while giving up one 2pt score…”
– Ryan Boyle, ESPN Analyst

The Atlas should be favored to win the PLL as long as Baptiste stays healthy. Boyle added a fun note.

“In the Atlas’ two losses, both opponents have scored three 2pt goals.”
– Ryan Boyle, ESPN Analyst

Game two in The Star saw Bryan Cole hammer home the game winner as the Whipsnakes took down the Chrome 9-8, to stay atop the league standings at 6-1. The Whips are methodical, kings of the one-goal win, but rather bland and unsexy. 

Athletes Unlimited

Athletes Unlimited took centerstage later in the afternoon from the USA Lacrosse headquarters in Hunt Valley. This women’s pro game was broadcast on ESPN2 at 4:00pm with Joe Beninati and Courtney Connor in the booth.

Scottie Rose Growney, playing for Team Taylor Moreno, tallied to make the score 9-4 for Team Moreno with only 5:42 left in the fourth quarter. That set the stage for a a stunning comeback from Team Apuzzo. Apuzzo, the former Boston College standout and 2018 Tewaaraton winner, would score the lead goal with 24 seconds left, making the count 10-9. Growney was not done yet. She knotted another goal 13 seconds later to force overtime. Neither side found the net in the scoreless tension of sudden-victory. Hold your breath. The deadlock led to a game deciding shootout, the first of its kind for Athletes Unlimited. Shots from outside 8 meters to determine a winner.

Team Apuzzo netminder Kady Glynn was one of the heroines in the victory outdueling Moreno, who was inexplicably left off of Team USA. Glynn stopped the last three of six total shootout attempts she faced, while Moreno, who was a brick wall most of the day, surrendered the winning goal to Katie O’Donnell.

Joe Beninati had high praise for what we witnessed.

“It was an awesome rally, Sam Apuzzo gave them the lead in regulation but they couldn’t hold on. It was a great game, we’ve had four games go into overtime all-time, but that was the best late comeback we’ve seen. To go into a shootout, that was different, and pretty cool.”
– Joe Beninati, NBCS Commentator

Athletes Unlimited is halfway through their summer lacrosse schedule of 24 games. The leaderboard is crystallizing.

“It’s a good race. Taylor Moreno, Sam Apuzzo, Lizzie Colson, and Dempsey Arsenault are the frontrunners. I would say Amanda Johansen, Charlotte North, and Ally Mastroianni may sneak into the mix too and be among the top four medal winners. It’s all about winning quarters and games as a team, that’s one reason why Charlotte is sitting in 10th place. If North’s team gets win points in the last two weeks, her big stat totals will push push her in the quest to be champion.”
– Joe Beninati, NBCS Commentator

Under Armour All-American Game

Hit the remote, switching over to ESPNU. The top boys and girls high school players in the country were on display at Homewood Field for the annual Under Armour All-American game. The talk is of the future not the past. 

Booker Corrigan, Sheehan Stanwick Burch, and Mark Dixon called both senior games on ESPNU. I spoke with Sheehan on Sunday. 

The girls senior game was won by the North 17-11. Peep Williams received the MVP with a stat line of 4G, 1A, 4GB, 5DC and 1 CT. Not a bad night for the future Cardinal. Her college teammate Lucy Pearson had the second most saves ever in the All-American game (11) playing for only one half. All of the Stanford commits were terrific. Kori Edmonson was also outstanding. 

“Emma Murphy from Michigan (she is the first women’s lacrosse player from the state of Michigan to commit to Notre Dame) stood out the most. She holds the national record for GPG 9.7 along with PPG 12.2 and is creative and productive. Madison Beale stood out on defense and transition. Beale was the Baltimore Sun POY as a defender and is headed to Duke.”
– Sheehan Stanwick Burch, Women’s Lacrosse Analyst and Commentator

The boys game showcased nine Syracuse commits, the most ever in the game. The Orange are rolling. Joey Spallina is a can’t miss prospect, he was terrific with 4G and 2A. ESPN stat guru Russ Dlin was impressed with Max Sloat and Andrew McMeekin.

Weekend Recap

One summer day. Four TV games that weren’t on ESPN The Ocho. The games are archived on the ESPN app, for those who may have been at the pool, the beach, or on the fairway. The viral highlights will churn on social media. Sticks get clicks. 

Comebacks, defense, scrappy groundballs, hitting, checking, creative passes, shots, incredible skill, blinding speed, and genuine emotion. These games had it all, you gotta love it. Just add some humanizing of the athletes along with some storytelling and you connect with America. 

Who would ever have guessed that a single Saturday over the summer would offer so much lacrosse? The sport is trending. One game at a time. One season at a time. One year at a time. Marching forward. Dream big, and go to work. Stick with it. The sports world is taking notice.