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Previewing the LILJ Junior Winter 7s Playoffs

Its five middle school teams competing for a championship in the LILJ Junior Winter 7s Playoffs beginning Saturday February 4th. The five teams represent the club programs of FLG, Yellow Jackets, and Empire. The quarter-final and two semifinal games will be this weekend followed by the consolation and championship games Saturday February 11th. 

FLG 2028 White vs YJ Mills 2029

In the one quarter-finals matchup the fourth seeded 2029s of YJ Mills will be taking on the fifth seeded 2028s of FLG White at 8:45. This will be the third time that these two teams will be facing each other with the first two games going to YJ Mills. In their most recent game YJ Mills earned a big 18-3 win. All winter this team has been led by midfielder Sarah Paci who has a team high 22 goals and 24 points. Riley Williams has consistently been second on the team in scoring with 16 goals which includes a four goal game in the previous matchup against FLG. The goaltending for YJ Mills has been very stout with Isabelle Della Rata in the cage making 47 saves on the season. FLG is in search of their first win and will be looking to pull off the upset. In the first game against YJ Mills they got three goals each from Clare Byers and Giuliana Maltese and a combined 16 saves from Grace Cunningham and Julia Lago. The winner of this game will play top seeded Empire in the semi-finals at 10:15.

FLG 2028 Navy vs FLG 2027 White

In the first semi-final game at 9:30 it’s the number two seed FLG 2028 Navy against the number three seed FLG 2027 White. In two regular season matchups between these two teams they were both tightly contested games with Navy winning by scores of 10-8 and 10-7. This Navy team averages a shade under 10 goals per game and has only allowed 54 total goals which is the second fewest in the league. Midfielder Ashley Arizonis has been their leading goal scorer with 16 goals on the season. Both Madeline Kavanaugh and Mairead Jaffe have also made significant contributions as two-way midfielders that have combined for 15 goals and 18 points. At attack it’s been a combination of players that have provided a burst of scoring at different times between Kennedy Murnane, Grace Hart, Samantha Quirke, and Shealyn Gilroy. The defense which has only allowed double digit goals twice in seven games has been anchored by defenders Carley Sullivan, Emma Lembo, Riley Iannotti, and Callie Schomburg. The goaltending as of late has been split between Molly Giordano and Saylor Hopper. FLG White enters this game at 3-4 averaging just over eight goals per game. All winter they have been led by Charli Kaplan who has taken the league by storm, tallying 19 goals and 5 assists. Kaplan is also a speedster that can get up and down the field in a blink and is always hunting down ground balls. Sayla Fives and Paige Danna have also combined for 13 points at midfield. Similar to Navy, White has gotten contributions from various players at attack including Lauren Ng, Kalli Salakis, Ryan Kaplan, and Daniella Lago. Despite the loss in the first encounter with Navy, White got superb goaltending from Carley Smith who recorded 14 saves with a 58% save percentage.

Empire 2027

With Empire holding the top overall seed they will await the winner of FLG White 2028 and YJ Mills 2029. They’re 7-0 and have been the highest scoring team in the league averaging 17 goals per game as a result of a lot of assisted goals. Whether it’s the starters or the second unit this team has a multitude of players that are serious offensive threats. Beginning with their attack unit Payton Wise leads the team in goals with 22 and points with 29. Delaney Kaplan has also had a big winter, pouring in 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points,  Both Ava Clark and Katelynn Tuohy who also play attack have each totaled 19 points, and Sarah Debesis has added nine goals and two assists for 11 points. Shifting to the midfielders three of their top guns have been Melania Moreo with eight goals and eight assists, Olivia Morgan with seven goals and seven assists, and Gabrielle Silvia with eight goals and four assists. As a defense Empire has allowed a little over six goals per game and have gotten consistent goaltending from Fiona Lynch who has a 52% save percentage.


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