Unbeaten Baltimore girls Highlight squad rolls to All-America Lacrosse South Super Regional title

by Nelson Coffin

Rising Dulaney senior Sammy White led a rigid backline for the Baltimore Highlight team in the All-America Lacrosse South Super Region underclass tournament Thursday and Friday at Meadowood Regional Park in Lutherville. Her ability to defend and scoop up 50-50 balls to ignite the team’s transition earned her the MVP of the regional tourney.

Sammy White’s impact on her Baltimore Highlight all-star team in the All-America Lacrosse South Super Region Underclass Tournament went way beyond goals and assists.

That’s because the rising senior defensive midfielder from Dulaney didn’t ripple the net for the defending champs and totaled only three assists in the five games the Baltimoreans swept during the two-day event at Meadowood Regional Park in Lutherville.

Even so, White was named the tournament MVP after Baltimore rolled over the South all-stars, 14-7, in Friday’s title match.

Her contributions were many in terms of playing lock-down defense, scooping up ground balls and keeping the transition game moving at a nice clip throughout the contest.

Besides, the B’more girls had more than enough offense to subdue their rivals, considering that rising St. Paul’s School for Girls senior midfielder Christina Gagnon led the scoring parade with four goals while fellow soon-to-be senior attacker Mia Rehkemper (Mount de Sales Academy) and rising junior midfielders Gracie Driggs (St. Mary’s) had two goals each.

Rising senior attacker Payton Rowley (Maryvale), rising senior midfielders Madison Sterling (John Carroll) and Adair Martin (Bryn Mawr) and rising junior midfielders Kori Edmondson (McDonogh) and and Maggie Weisman (Glenelg Country School) and rising junior attacker Emma Kennedy (Glenelg High) added single tallies.

Rowley also pitched in with two assists and Rehkemper and rising junior attacker Caroline Godinbe (McDonogh) had one helper in the victory that qualified the team for a spot in the national tournament against the winners from the East, North and West regions at a date yet to be determined.

White was all smiles after joining Edmondson and rising senior attackers Maddie Dora (Milton, Fla.) Marleigh Sanders (Milton, Fla.) and Kate Miller (Atlee, Va.) and rising senior midfielder Grace Muldoon (Stone Ridge, Va.) on the All-South Super Region team.

Playing five games in two days was a daunting task, White said.

“It was much more difficult than I thought it would be,” she said. “We only had one practice, and we haven’t been playing much in the summer (for her Skywalkers club team), either.”

It took a little while until the Baltimoreans adjusted to each other on the field.

“We started the first game and played really well,” White continued. “Then we fell back a little, but we picked it up really quickly after that.”

The South, which nipped Washington, D.C., 12-11, to reach the final, made a game of it early, staying within striking distance and only trailing, 7-4, at the half.

A 5-1 run to open the second half gave the local squad some breathing room on a hot and humid afternoon.

Martin, Rehkemper, Sterling, Kennedy and Weisman notched goals during the splurge.

The main difference separating the teams, though, was Baltimore’s talent for picking up balls off the ground and giving the offense enough opportunities to score against South rising junior goalies Julia Dembowitz (Allatoona, Ga.) and Ava deLyra (Wando, S.C.).

Baltimore’s defense, spearheaded by White and rising seniors Paris Colgain (St. Paul’s), Ellie Hollin (John Carroll) and Kennedy Major (Gerstell Academy), playing in front of rising senior goalie Elyse Finnelle (Southern-AA) and rising junior Jocelyn Torres (Glenelg High), allowed an average of just over five goals per game in the tournament.

“We went hard after 50-50 balls,” White said. “Baltimore is known for winning, so that’s what we were striving for, and it feels awesome to accomplish it.”

Baltimore coach Brooke Shriver said that using all 13 middies on the roster helped to overcome fatigue.

Getting the right combinations on the field was the tricky part.

“Yesterday we started playing better together and then midway through (Friday’s) game we started to make good connections,” she said.

Shriver said that the South posed some problems for her team.

“We were worried about (Dora and Sanders),” she said. “They (South) had a good team.”

South Coach John McClain (American Heritage coach, Delray Beach, Fla.) said that Baltimore’s speed was the difference in the game.

“They were just faster than us,” he said. “But I thought we matched them grit for grit. We have a young team and we still kept competing.”