Three of four teams in pool 2 of the Girls U19 Championships are familiar faces. Fallbrook (Calif.), Divine Savior Holy Angels (Wisc.) and West Carroll (Md.) all participated at last year’s nationals and welcome newcomer New York to the fold.
|DSHA (red) is ready for its comeback.|
New York will have an intense introduction to national play, taking on last year’s finalist Fallbrook in the opening round.
“We are excited to play Fallbrook in the first round,” New York coach Molly Dengler said. “The girls watched their final’s tape from 2010 and it looks to be an interesting match of styles.
“The girls are looking strong and definitely confident,” Dengler continued. “Probably too confident as we have not had a close game since our very first game in March against Union.”
Unfortunately for New York, they might have to do without key playmaker Angelina Rosario, who sprained her ankle during the NRU championship. The scrumhalf is still on crutches and has the watchful eye of Dr. Lisa Bartoli, the Women’s National Team doctor, by her side.
“As it is her last season with the team, and this is her number one dream in life, I’m going to let her make the final call as to if she plays or not this weekend,” Dengler said of Rosario.
Both teams have been hitting the practice hard the last couple of weeks, and Fallbrook is eager to return home with a title in 2011.
“The team is looking strong and confident,” Fallbrook captain Megan Pinson said. “We are ready this year and have been practice like crazy. You can tell everyone wants it out on the field.
The lock highlights a very talented, agile and small Southern California team. Earlier in the year, Pinson was invited to a USA U-20 camp as a last-minute replacement and truly impressed coach Bryn Chivers with her speed and aggression.
“Coming out to Utah and playing [New York], we know we have work set out for us,” Pinson continued. “The intensity goes up a lot once you’re this close. I'm confident in our team this year; I believe we can achieve our goal of being the national champs!”
Whoever wins the New York vs Fallbrook match will take on the winner of West Carroll and Divine Savior. History favors DSHA in this match-up, especially after last year’s let-down and the desire to take control of its own destiny.
“We have some confidence heading into nationals; our scores during the Midwest Championship caused some excitement,” DSHA coach John Klein said. “We’re focused, ready to go, and excited for the challenges ahead.”
Thirty-six girls will be making the trip to Utah, as Klein didn’t want to exclude anyone from could be a great comeback weekend.
“We’re going to take on whoever comes our way, and we won’t disrespect anyone,” Klein said in response to whom he’s looking forward to play. “It would be interesting to play Fallbrook and try to make amends for last year’s game. But we have to worry about West Carroll first and foremost – and who’s to say that New York can’t pull off the upset?”
The Holy Angels are healthy, pumped up, and without excuses. West Carroll coach Brad Rockwood is taking the opening-round match in stride.
“Everyone will be a bit nervous in their first match,” Rockwood said. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for DSHA. They have been at or near the top for so long. I'm sure Chin will have them ready to play.
“There are so many good teams heading to Utah I'm not sure we would be more at ease playing any of them in the first round,” Rockwood added.
Rockwood is at ease however knowing that his squad is fully healthy for the first time this season. It was a tough road earning the Mid-Atlantic seed to nationals, as West Carroll had to rally from behind in both of its matches: first against North Bay to win 10-5, then Downington for the 17-10 win. The team knows how to dig down deep and engineer a comeback, but West Carroll will need to be firing on all cylinders for the entirety of the match if it wants to knock off DSHA.
Should DSHA and Fallbrook win their openers, then we’ll see a replay of last year’s semifinal in which the Holy Angels narrowly lost (8-5) for the first time since fall 2002.
So in the eager words of West Carroll’s Rockwood: Let the games begin!
Read more about Pool 1 here.
SATURDAY, MAY 21
9 a.m.: Sacramento Amazons v Sebastian River
9 a.m.: Kent v Lakewood
10 a.m.: Fallbrook v New York
10 a.m.: Divine Savior v West Carroll