3 Mars girls lacrosse players earn spots on Pittsburgh team

July 3, 2019 Cranberry Local Sports

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ADAMS TWP — While sitting in AP Physics class at Mars Area High School, Carly Kern obsessively checked her phone.

She was looking for word if she made the Pittsburgh team for the 2019 U.S. Lacrosse Women's National Tournament.

It was a long three days of waiting and it was beginning to wear on Kern, a sophomore defender for the Planets.

“It was crazy,” she said. “On the third day, I was on the edge of my seat.”

But finally, the notification came. Kern had to read it several times before she could believe it was true.

Not only had she made the team, despite not picking up a crosse for the first time until the eighth grade, but two of her teammates — freshman goalie Kailey Phillips and junior midfielder Mara Fuller — were going to join her.

“When I found out,” Kern said, “I literally yelled in the middle of class.”

The excitement was justified.

Mars had never had more than one player selected for a national team in any one season in the program's six-year history.

Now, the program had three in one campaign.

“It's really a big accomplishment that all three of them were picked,” said Mars coach Cara DuMont.

The Mars trio had to overcome difficult conditions during the tryout, which was held on a muddy field at Hampton High School during a torrential rainstorm.

Players had difficulty with their footing on the sloppy field.

“It was a really nasty day,” Fuller said. “The weather wasn't so good for lacrosse.”

But Fuller, Phillips and Kern were unfazed and tried to use the conditions to their advantage.

The tryout had players split up into groups playing against each other in simulated situations, either one-on-one, two-on-two or three-on-three.

Kern said she thought the conditions played a little to her advantage.

“It was hard, especially on defense — it was muddy and I was slipping everywhere,” she said. “By the end, I was covered in mud. Honestly, though, it probably showed I was willing to do whatever needed to be done and I wasn't afraid to get dirty.”

The national tournament was held over Memorial Day weekend in Baltimore.

The Pittsburgh team went 3-1, losing to Tennessee.

Pittsburgh did beat Los Angeles, which went on to win the pool in the Iroquois Division. Pittsburgh also beat Colorado in the third-place game.

“It wasn't about winning the tournament,” DuMont said. “It was about playing at a high level against great players from all over the country and getting exposed to great lacrosse.”

DuMont wasn't surprised three of her players were chosen or that they played well in Baltimore.

Fuller surpassed 100 career goals early in the season and has her sights set on the school record, which is held by Shannon Doyle.

Phillips was only a freshman, but made a huge impact in goal in a position that requires a great deal of mental fortitude.

“She completely blows my mind,” DuMont said. “She's always pushing herself.”

Phillips said she was honored to just be chosen by DuMont to try out for the team.

Only five players from each team can compete for a spot on the Pittsburgh national team.

Phillips is no stranger to work in net. In the family's living room is a pop-up goal that she and her father use for impromptu practices.

“My mom isn't so crazy about it,” Phillips said, chuckling.

Phillips began playing in the fifth grade.

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Mike Kilroy

Mike Kilroy

I joined the Butler Eagle in January of 2000 after spending five years at the Steubenville Herald-Star and Weirton Daily Times, where I did everything from editing the sports section to knocking snow and ice off the Associated Press satellite dish. I graduated from Kent State University in 1994 with a degree in magazine journalism and a minor in skipping class. My honors include a 2007 Associated Press award for feature writing, a 2005 and 2007 Keystone award for column writing and a 2003 Golden Quill award for feature writing. I have a high game of 255 at Wii Bowling.