Our takeaways from another wild HSNI!
June 20, 2019 by Sam Echevarria in Recap with 0 comments
ROCKFORD, Ill. — A weekend of sun, wind, and face-offs between nine of the top Girls’ high school programs in the nation played out at the third High School National Invite. Every year, youth players impress spectators with their speed, skill, and spirit, and 2019 was no different. Only one team could take the title home, however, and the path to doing so was anything but simple.
Top Seeds Face Off in Roosevelt’s Championship Win
While each team found a unique path through the bracket, at the end of the day, no. 1 seed Roosevelt (WA) and no. 2 seed Lone Peak (UT) met to determine the champion. Along the way, Lone Peak had made themselves out to be a serious contender, outscoring their opponents from pool play up until the final 74-8 over the course of the tournament. The absolute domination contrasted to the more tempered matchups Roosevelt found themselves in, winning over their semifinal and quarterfinal games by four and seven points, respectively.
Yet it was Roosevelt that came out victorious in the end, defeating Lone Peak 11-9 in a back-and-forth contest of high tempo offenses and big defensive plays. The combination of U-24 player Abby Hecko and cutter Anna Goddu driving the offense–alongside the game-saving efforts of Hara Craft Mazzanti, difficult scores in the hands of Shanti Chier and blocks of Sarah Rifkin–kept Roosevelt on top to take the title on an upwind break. Lone Peak wasn’t without its strong moments; the squad from Utah played aggressively and confidently, using the height and disc-tracking talents of Kate Barry and Autumn Saunders on defense and offense, respectively. Nikki Merrill was also crucial, marshaling the Lone Peak line from the backfield. While both teams were able to break in either direction, Roosevelt’s cleaner execution in the wind, valuing possession over hucking and playing defense, and incredible individual efforts from Hecko and Goddu led the way for a win and a National title for the Seattle area team. They’re the second straight Seattle club to win the tournament.
Meeting and Beating Expectations: Holy Family Takes Third over a Surprise Newton North
The two semifinal teams knocked out by Roosevelt and Lone Peak came together to play for third place, a match that went the way of no. 3 Holy Family (OH), finishing with a 10-7 win over Newton North (MA).
Holy Family maintained their seed and reminded the division of the strength of the Ohio program throughout the weekend, giving Lone Peak their closest match of the tournament until the final. Even with fewer than two full lines of players healthy to play in Rockford, Holy Family’s handlers Rebecca Monnin, Savannah Jeffries, and Ella Enders worked hard throughout the weekend in the backfield, looking to get it to cutters like Margaret Schuster in the downfield space. Monnin also proved dangerous on defense, going full-tilt for run-through blocks and pressuring opponents. The Holy Family team cruised through quarterfinals against Knoxville (TN) with a 13-2 win, until losing to Roosevelt’s cleaner execution and Hecko’s individual brilliance in the semifinal round 12-8. Their redemption in the third place game however, keeps them near the top of the division, if not on the same level as Roosevelt and Lone Peak.
On the other end of the match, no. 8 Newton North made it through to the semifinals on the strength of their athleticism, before being demolished by Lone Peak, 15-1. After a hard game back and forth with Neuqua Valley (IL) in quarters that Newton North won 10-7, the team couldn’t keep up with the Utah club, legs drained and unable to win in the deep space. Still, the defensive efforts of Jocelyn Sun helped keep Newton in the game, refusing to roll over without a fight. On offense, Alex Hecht and Gigi Downey made big plays throughout the weekend, a consistent connection that generated large yardage gains and scores.
In all, Holy Family proved they were right where they belong, near the top but outside the top level of Roosevelt and Lone Peak; Newton North’s surprise run shows promise for the program’s future, giving programs like Holy Family a run for their money.
Elsewhere in the Tournament
- No. 5 Ballard (WA) failed to make the bracket after being blown out by Lone Peak and Holy Family, as well as losing tight matches against Edina (MN) and Newton North. They redeemed themselves with an 8-7 win over Mount Notre Dame (OH) in consolation play.
- It was an up and down tournament for no. 4 Knoxville (TN), who got upset by Neuqua Valley in pool play, but nearly took down Roosevelt in the following round. In the end, while they underperformed in the bracket, getting stomped 13-2 by the Holy Family squad, consolation play went better, with wins over Neuqua Valley and Ballard.