Familiarity Leads USA Women's U16 Team to Brogden Cup Sweep

PHOTO BY NICK IERADI

Madison Rassas, the daughter of two-time U.S. men's team defenseman Todd Rassas, had hat tricks in both USA Select U16 wins on Sunday.


SPARKS, Md. — In between games of the Brogden Cup action at the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic on Sunday afternoon, Todd Rassas pulled up a picture on his phone. In the picture, the two-time USA defenseman is holding a young toddler — his daughter Madison.

On Sunday, Madison Rassas was the one wearing the USA uniform. She helped the USA Select U16 team complete a perfect 4-0 weekend by scoring hat tricks in both of Sunday’s games, an 8-2 victory over Team Ontario and a 13-1 victory over the Haudenosaunee Nationals.

“It is so special just to wear the red, white and blue,” Rassas said. “It’s been a dream ever since I’ve was little, I’ve always looked up to my dad.”

This was Rassas’ second time participating on a USA Select team, the culmination of a three-phase process in the National Team Development Program. The 88 players that competed on the U16 and U18 men’s and women’s USA Select teams came from a pool of more than 1,200 participants that competed at regional tryouts and a national combine.

Whether their father played in the national team program or not, it’s a dream not hard to understand.

“It’s the coolest, nothing is better than that,” said Kelly Blake of wearing a uniform with USA on it. “Running out of the tunnel is just amazing. It’s so incredible.”

Blake, a junior at Medfield (Mass.) High School, committed to Boston College recently. So imagine sitting at a table with Sam Apuzzo, Charlotte North and Belle Smith, as Blake did on Friday night when the USA Select team had the opportunity to have dinner with members of the U.S. women’s national team.

“I grew up watching Sam and now I watch Charlotte and Belle,” Blake said. “They were like my idols. It was an incredible experience getting to know them and talk to them. It was so cool. Younger me would have — I still do fangirl — I was such a fan growing up.”







Caitlyn Phipps, herself a two-time gold medalist with the U.S. team and now an assistant coach at Maryland, served as the head coach for the U16 USA Select team.

She knows what wearing a USA uniform feels like, but also wanted to pass onto her team part of what that means.

“I think passing on the confidence that you play for Team USA and you have that across your chest – to believe in yourself and your teammates,” Phipps said. “I think there’s a lot of nerves coming into this weekend, but they’ve done the hard work to get here. When they can finally get the nerves out of them, they play together as a team.”

Blake and Rassas were two of five returning players to the U16 team from a year ago and that familiarity showed. In the team’s first game of the day, Rassas scored the first goal of the game. Blake scored the second and then Blake assisted on a Rassas goal that jump started the U.S. to a quick start in an 8-2 win over Team Ontario that clinched the overall Brogden Cup for the USA Select program.

Rassas finished with a hat trick while Blake had two goals and an assist in that victory.

In the second game, Rassas had another three-goal outing, including one of her goals coming from a Blake assist, as the USA Select squad beat the Haudenosaunee Nationals 13-1. Truus Van Wees and Maeve Cavanaugh each added two goals and an assist for USA Select.

Rassas, a junior at Georgetown Visitation (D.C.), will carry on another family tradition when she heads to Notre Dame, where she recently committed. Her father was an All-American lacrosse player with the Irish and her grandfather and great grandfather both played football at Notre Dame.

“It was definitely a little stressful, but in the end I’m going to Notre Dame and that’s pretty special as a fourth generation athlete,” Rassas said. “I knew it was a big deal, but I knew it was up to my decision. When I was there I just fell in love with the campus, coaching and teammates and everything it had to offer. I’m really excited.”

Before then, there’s work to be done. Blake and Rassas will eventually head to rival Atlantic Coast Conference schools, but both pointed to part of the work they will do before they get there — backyard lacrosse with their sisters.

Following the games, one player from each team was presented with the Brogden Cup Coaches Award. Receiving the honors were Kendyl Pollack (Haudenosaunee Nationals), Elsa Copeland (Team Ontario) and Lydia Ward (USA Select).

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