SPARKS, Md. — Moments after Team USA put the finishing touches on a convincing 20-5 victory over Canada in a rematch of the 2013 FIL Women's World Cup final Sunday at US Lacrosse, Canadian assistant coach Gary Gait found his daughter, Taylor, chatting with his former Syracuse players turned U.S. stars Michelle Tumolo and Alyssa Murray in the tunnel leading from Tierney Field into the IWLCA Building.

Gait grabbed Tumolo and Murray playfully by their shoulders.

"Stop picking on us, you two," he said.

Tumolo and Murray rekindled their Carrier Dome connection with the UWLX's Philadelphia Force over the summer and continued to demonstrate that chemistry this weekend, combining for 14 goals and 16 assists in a four-game U.S. sweep at the Team USA Fall Classic.

"We call it left side, strong side, because we're both lefties and we just work well together from the crease to the elbow," Tumolo said. "We've been able to bring our creative game from Syracuse and use it here with the U.S."

Tumolo, whose senior season at Syracuse was cut short when she tore her ACL in 2013, emerged as a focal point of the Team USA attack — a particularly satisfying development considering she narrowly missed the last cut for the 2013 U.S. squad just three months before her injury.

"It was like a silver lining. Say I made the team. Then I tear my ACL, and I can't go. Everything happens for a reason," Tumolo said. "I had so much left in my career. I got right back up, trained really hard, and look where I am now. I feel better than ever."

Tumolo and Murray are among nine attackers vying for precious few spots on a U.S. roster that will be trimmed from 36 to 24 on Monday.

Their competition?

  • Team USA veteran Alex Aust, who had three goals and two assists in Sunday's nightcap, a 19-4 win over Australia.
  • Dual threat Alyssa Leonard, who corralled a team-high six draw controls to go with her three assists in the blowout.
  • Danielle Etrasco, a holdover from the 2013 World Cup team who scored six goals in the win over Canada.
  • Brooke Griffin, the slick-sticked point-behind attacker who put up five points in each of her two appearances this weekend.
  • Cortney Fortunato, the Notre Dame senior who said she struggled before breaking out for six goals (five in the first half) against Australia.
  • Kylie Ohlmiller, the Stony Brook junior whose six goals against North Carolina included a behind-the-back finish that made ESPN's "SportsCenter" Top 10 plays Saturday.
  • Kayla Treanor, a three-time Tewaaraton finalist at Syracuse who did not play for the U.S. this weekend due to an injury, but figures to be a part of the conversation Monday.

 

 

Team USA head coach Ricky Fried said the attack group would be the most difficult to whittle down. With rapid ball movement — not to mention a plethora of fast-break opportunities stemming from its high-pressure defense and ride — the U.S. scored 79 goals in four games, 50 of which were assisted.

"We're very unselfish players and love to see each other succeed," Murray said. "You always know when you give up the ball, you're going to get it back again."

"It comes down to decision-making on the field. They're all excellent finishers. They all have great sticks. They're pretty dynamic players. Who makes the best decisions? Whom complements each other?" Fried said. "People are going to look at the 24 and be like, 'Damn, that's a really good team.' Then they're going to look at the 12 and be like, 'Oh my god, I can't believe they left that person off.' I understand that. That's part of being in this position."

England digs deep

Team England, which squandered big leads against both Australia and the U.S. on Saturday, held on for a 7-6 win Sunday over Canada.

Megan Whittle scored three goals and defender Sophie Whitehead sealed the victory by intercepting a pass on the Canadians' final possession.

"We just had to dig deep," Whitehead said.

After also giving the juggernaut U.S. its toughest test of the weekend — and coming off of a similarly strong showing during a recent three-week tour in Australia — England is gaining momentum as it prepares to host the 2017 FIL Women's World Cup next summer in Guildford, England.

"It's not just about 2017," Whitehead said. "It's about building up the sport in the U.K."

Hazar, Reed Emerge for Tar Heels

Defending NCAA champion North Carolina may have lost Aly Messinger, who graduated after an MVP performance in the 2016 final four. But junior Ela Hazar appeared poised to take over Messinger's role as an initiator and distributor for the Tar Heels, scoring two goals and adding two assists Sunday in a 13-8 win over Australia.

Hazar had 26 goals and 28 assists for North Carolina last season, but was largely overshadowed by the likes of Messinger, Molly Hendrick, Marie McCool and Sammy Jo Tracy on North Carolina's vaunted offense.

Carly Reed, who emerged late in the 2016 season for the Tar Heels and scored five goals in the NCAA semifinals against Penn State, also had two goals and two assists in the victory over Australia. Reed was the bright spot in Saturday's 20-7 loss to the U.S. with four goals.

Canada Swept

Despite going 0-3 with losses to Australia, England and the U.S., reigning World Cup silver medalist Canada remained optimistic Sunday. Head coach Scott Teeter said the Canadians remain in evaluation mode after only recently naming their 40-player roster.

"Once we get down to a more manageable number, like our 24, that's when you will see a progression with this team," Teeter said.

Team USA Fall Classic

Saturday
Australia 12, England 11 | Box Score
United States 20, North Carolina 7 | Box Score
United States 20, England 13 | Box Score
Australia 13, Canada 10 | Box Score

Sunday
England 7, Canada 6 | Box Score
North Carolina 13, Australia 8 | Box Score
United States 20, Canada 5 | Box Score
United States 19, Australia 4 | Box Score

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