xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Rec Sports Spotlight: South Carroll girls nab first MYLA title

South Carroll 1 won the Maryland Youth Lacrosse Association Junior Division 13-14 girls championship. Pictured are: Anabelle Carter, Anna Hackett, Ansleigh Myers, Bailey Schneeman, Becca Mullinix, Bethany Fowler, Caroline Laur, Chloe Brickey, Claire Toomey, Drew Keiser, Eliza Cissel, Grace Laur, Isabelle Gapen, Jaden Legambi, Kaitlyn Caprario, Katy Grow, Kelsey Shekore, Lauren Hackett, Lauren Chesney, Natalie Rilley Olivia Piccolo, Rebecca Janusz, Ruby Fipps, Shannon McTavish. - Original Credit: Submitted photo
South Carroll 1 won the Maryland Youth Lacrosse Association Junior Division 13-14 girls championship. Pictured are: Anabelle Carter, Anna Hackett, Ansleigh Myers, Bailey Schneeman, Becca Mullinix, Bethany Fowler, Caroline Laur, Chloe Brickey, Claire Toomey, Drew Keiser, Eliza Cissel, Grace Laur, Isabelle Gapen, Jaden Legambi, Kaitlyn Caprario, Katy Grow, Kelsey Shekore, Lauren Hackett, Lauren Chesney, Natalie Rilley Olivia Piccolo, Rebecca Janusz, Ruby Fipps, Shannon McTavish. - Original Credit: Submitted photo (HANDOUT)

Normally a coach would be worried if her whole team had to move up to an older age division. South Carroll 1 head coach Brigid McTavish certainly was a bit uncertain and worried about that this spring.

Most of her South Carroll I girls travel lacrosse team played in the Maryland Youth Lacrosse Association (MYLA) Midget Division for 11-12 year-olds last year. This season, the girls moved up to the Junior B Division for ages 13-14.

Advertisement

Turns out the move didn't hurt them at all. Even though McTavish had one of the younger teams in the Junior B Division, it turned out to be the best one.

South Carroll made the playoffs and then swept three postseason games to take the Junior B Division title. It was the first time a South Carroll girls travel team has won an MYLA championship in the 20-some years the program has been around.

In addition to the 12-13 returners from last year, the team added another nine or ten players to move its strength up into the 20's. The new ones had played before, but some were relatively inexperienced in the rigors of travel lacrosse, particularly against older competition.

McTavish though, also coaches the South Carroll High girls varsity lacrosse team. And her experience told her that her experienced core group would handle the rigors of the Junior B Division.

"About 12 of them have played together since the fourth grade. I had the team base from last year. That made it easier to build on what we'd done and to take the next step," she said.

That next step was a new defense that McTavish and assistant coaches Jesse Laur and Lee Piccolo introduced toward the end of the regular season. The idea was to double-team the ball carrier and force turnovers that could be converted into fast-break goals.

That pressing defense was combined with a slow and methodical offense that emphasized numerous short quick possession passes leading to scores.

"We told them to take their time on offense. We wanted everybody to to handle the ball and control it two, three or four minutes," McTavish said. "With a lot of girls handling the ball, everybody looked good."

The girls on this particular team team had never been to the MYLA playoffs although they had come close in 2016. They tied Gamber for the final playoff spot, but Gamber beat them out in accordance with MYLA tie-breaking rules because it had scored two more regular season goals.

South Carroll started slowly this season, splitting its first two games. But then it won four in a row and wound up winning seven of 10 regular season contests. It finished fourth in the 17-team Junior B Division. The team scored 137 goals, one of the league's highest totals.

The first playoff game, May 21, was a home contest at Krimgold Park against Catonsville.

"We had never played them. I told the girls they were a good team. But I also told them that if we played the way we could play, we would win," McTavish said.

South Carroll promptly shot to a 5-1 early lead and cruised to 9-4 first game victory. Next up was top-seeded Gamber, which had beaten South Carroll by five goals in an earlier game this year.

"This time, we led them by six goals early. It was the best we've played all season. They came back to within three goals, but they never caught us," McTavish said.

Advertisement

Her team won the game 11-7.

That left the championship game with North Carroll, another team with which South Carroll had a score to settle. North Carroll had also won the regular-season game. In addition to having to face such a tough foe, the South Carroll coach had an urgent additional problem. The team's starting goalie, Drew Kieser, would be unable to play.

McTavish needed a substitute.

"I wanted someone who knew what she was doing, so I didn't want to put a field player in there," McTavish said.

She settled on Becca Mullinix, the goalie for South Carroll's Lightning B team. Fallston had eliminated Becca's team from the playoffs by a 7-4 count three days before. Still, McTavish had confidence in the youngster.

"She had practiced with us a few times, so the girls knew her. I said, 'You can do this and you should just be who you are,'" McTavish said. "I told the defense to protect the goalie. The girls up here shoot harder."

The defense did protect its young goalie, and South Carroll beat North Carroll 9-4. Needless to say, excitement reigned on the South Carroll side of the field at Columbia's Blandair Park.

"You would have thought we were the University of Maryland and we had won it all," Piccolo said.

The only goals scored on Mullinix, who excelled in the net, came from four free-position shots after defensive fouls. Nobody scored from in close on Mullinix, who had six saves.

South Carroll maintained control in this championship game. Its players won 11 of 15 draws with midfielder Shannon McTavish grabbing 11 of 13. The younger McTavish also helped on the scoring end. She and Isabelle Gapen led the team in assists during the playoffs.

South Carroll's top goal scorers in the tournament were Bailey Schneerman and Lauren Hackett. Olivia Piccolo and Claire Toomey turned in strong defensive efforts in the three games.

Lee Piccolo, president of the South Carroll lacrosse program in addition to her assistant coaching job, says the championship is a major victory for her organization as well as for the team that won it.

"Few girls in our program have ever made it to the championships before," she said. "This is the first team to win it all, and that is very significant for our program."

She noted that winning a championship might get the organization noticed more and could help it recruit now members.

"Most of the girls are going into high school next year," Piccolo said. "There was no better way to end their rec careers."

410-857-7896

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement