It wasn’t like Jen Giles hadn’t played in big games before. Mount Hebron’s rivalry games with 3A/2A champion Marriotts Ridge are some of the most heated public school girls’ lacrosse games you’ll find. Her club team, M&D Black, is one of the nation’s best and most heavily recruited. The first0team All-Met is used to big stages populated with elite players, but even she felt something extra at last weekend’s Under Armour All-American tournament at Towson.
The Under Armour Underclass All-American tournament features 10 teams from various regions throughout the country, made up of each area’s top non-seniors and selected via tryouts. Though a showcase for the country’s top lacrosse talent, most players on regional rosters are already committed or close to it, in keeping with lacrosse’s tendency toward early recruiting. So while players aren’t always playing for scholarships, as they might at similar football or basketball showcase games, the Under Armour weekend is among the most prestigious events in high school lacrosse. And according to Giles, you can tell.
“The level of intensity is taken to a whole different level,” the Maryland commit said. “Not just on offense on defense, but even in transition, all the time. Everyone’s working hard, showing skills you’ve never seen before. It’s fun.”
Giles, a rising senior, played for the annual favorite Baltimore team for the second year in a row. She scored two goals in the championship game, including the game-winner in overtime, to give Baltimore a 10-9 win over Long Island — its second straight Underclass Tournament win.
The Baltimore boys scripted a similar weekend, needing overtime to knock off Philadelphia, 8-7, for the Underclass title. They were led by Howard Coach Jimmy Creighton, who guided the Lions through their best season in school history, an undefeated regular season and a berth in the state title game. Throughout his team’s 2014 run he navigated close games against some of Maryland’s top public school competition — a comeback against Westminster, a convincing win over Dulaney in the state semifinal. But his first year coaching in the Under Armour Underclass tournament and its rosters brimming with elite talent was another thing entirely.
All he could do when some goals were scored against the Baltimore squad was laugh and ask “What can you do about that?” On occasion, he’d watch his players score highlight-reel goals and admit he and his coaches couldn’t have written a play better.
“There’s a lot of moments where you just turn at another coach and say ‘Wow,’ ” Creighton said. ” You think you can’t coach that. That’s just really good.”
The weekend also featured the boys and girls Under Armour All-American games, which pitted all-star team of graduated seniors from the North region against the South. D.C-area players played for the South teams.
The girls’ South team fell to the North, 18-11, despite goals from 2014 first-team All-Mets Kelly Myers (Georgetown Visitation), Taylor Hensh (Marriotts Ridge) and Maryland-bound Kacie Longo (South River).
The boys, on the other hand, rallied to stun the North, demolishing a 9-2 deficit with a comeback that ended in a 17-16 overtime win.
All-Met Player of the Year Charlie Horning scored three goals and chipped in an assist in the win, while his Georgetown Prep teammate and two-time first-team All-Met pick Brendan Collins also added a goal. Horning will play at Villanova next season, while Collins heads to Notre Dame, just two of the dozens of Division I commits collected at Towson last weekend.
“Knowing it’s all the best players in the country, it makes you feel so honored and privileged to be on a team like that,” Giles said. “You get to learn a lot through each other, and every game is so intense. No matter what team you’re playing. And that’s really, really fun.”
Related: Girls’ lacrosse Recruit Watch