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Team Photo Yellow Jackets Stadler

Yellow Jackets, Mass Elite Win Titles at USA Lacrosse Youth Nationals

July 10, 2024
Brian Logue

FREDERICA, Del. — Two days of highly-competitive action featuring 1,358 athletes from 27 states at the 2024 USA Lacrosse Youth Nationals at DE Turf came to a fitting end — three championship games decided by a single goal, including two in overtime.

The Yellow Jackets won overtime games in the 13U and 15U age groupings while Mass Elite brought home the 14U championship.

In the 13U division, Yellow Jackets Friedman jumped out to a 5-1 lead over Pride Red, but the Pride team wasn’t going quietly. Entering the playoff round as the No. 8 seed, Pride had already upset Team 91 Long Island Roar (10-4) and Mass Elite Red (10-9) to reach the finals.

Pride rallied by scoring the final five goals of regulation – with Neve Kang scoring three goals in the fourth quarter, but the Yellow Jackets’ Molly McNamara scored on a free position shot early in overtime to give the Yellow Jackets an 8-7 win. 

“For the girls to go up by a lot and for them to come back and tie it and for us to finish it in overtime is amazing,” said Yellow Jackets coach Peter Friedman. “Not many teams can do that. These girls have heart and they’ve been working for this and they deserve every second of it.”

It was the first of two championships on the day for a Yellow Jackets program that has seen tremendous success at the USA Lacrosse Youth Nationals and its predecessor events for years.

“We’ve had some of these girls since they were in third grade and the parents from day one said they wanted the national championship,” Friedman said.  “This is what they’ve always been saying, so the girls had this as a goal. At the beginning of the year, we had some ups and downs, but they had their eyes on the prize. They played their hearts out and we can’t be any prouder.”

Yellow Jackets Friedman
13U Champs: Yellow Jackets Friedman

At the 14U level, Mass Elite Red and Yellow Jackets Maget went back-and-forth with the Yellow Jackets taking an 8-6 lead into the final quarter.

That was no strange occurrence for Mass Elite, which won three one-goal games in the playoffs. Mass Elite scored four straight goals in the fourth quarter — two by Sadie Nash — and held on for a 10-9 win.

“It was our first time coming to this tournament and we knew the competition was going to be absolutely fierce,” said coach Margot Spatola. “They level of play these two days was really high, so that means a lot. [Assistant coach] Katherine [McDonough] was just saying to the girls they’re trending up. They’ve been working really hard and this is a great place to be and we need to keep working at that and playing against really strong teams makes a huge difference.”

Mass Elite Red
14U Champs: Mass Elite Red

In the 15U division, Hero’s Green was looking to become the first team to win its age division three consecutive years. It almost didn’t get a chance, but rallied with two goals in the final minute of an 8-7 quarterfinal win over Team 180.

In the championship game, it was a rally that went the other way that gave Yellow Jackets Stadler a 7-6 overtime victory.

Fueled in part by a stellar draw effort from Graceyn Brown and Lily Preston, Hero’s led most of the game, but the Yellow Jackets scored both goals of the fourth quarter, tying the game 6-6 on Madison Herr’s goal  with just 19 seconds left.

Hero’s won the draw to start overtime, but was unable to convert and Katelynn Murtha scored the winner inside off a pass from Herr to give the Yellow Jackets a long coveted victory. Hero’s first championship as 13-year olds in 2023 came against this Yellow Jackets team.

“It’s the last Nationals for these girls and they’ve been talking about it since the fall and how they wanted this,” said coach Jason Stadler. “It feels great going out and winning this thing.”