(Photo courtesy of Athletes Unlimited)

The second season of Athletes Unlimited lacrosse concluded with rookie goaltender Taylor Moreno being crowned champion – a mere three months after she won an NCAA title with North Carolina.

“It definitely wasn’t anything that I was expecting,” Moreno told Just Women’s Sports. “My focus was just on having fun and enjoying the opportunity that I was given. Obviously, that ended in the best possible way it could have ended. It’s surreal.”

Moreno amassed 1,798 points on the season, which put her just 16 points ahead of second-place finisher Sam Apuzzo. The two duked it out atop the leaderboard for the final three weeks after Moreno vaulted to the top as a member of Team Apuzzo in the first week.

The goaltender says she was lucky to have been a member of Team Apuzzo in that first week, as their team went undefeated. After that, she was on her own – having to navigate learning the Athletes Unlimited system as a rookie while also learning how to draft a team.

“I think every draft that I did, I learned something new about myself and about all these girls in the league,” she said.

The education paid off, as Team Moreno went undefeated in the final week. The squad was propelled in part by Kenzie Kent, who had a hat trick in every single game and amassed a total of 10 goals on the weekend – which helped her finish second in the league in goals this season (26).

A pivotal game Sunday against Team Apuzzo was key to Moreno earning the title. Her team won 9-7 — and also took the points for the third quarter (worth 40 due to rollover points), which pushed Moreno ahead of Apuzzo.

“Those guys were really having so much fun, and I think that was a huge thing that made our team so successful this past weekend,” Moreno said. “Everyone was on the same page. They were gritty, you could tell they were definitely into it and having a lot of fun. That, to me, was all that matters.”

Charlotte North, who was playing for Team Glynn this week, exploded offensively on Sunday, scoring six goals. Her eight total on the weekend helped her secure the top spot in league goals on the season with 31.

Apuzzo, who finished second with 1,782 points, led the league in assists (16) while adding 24 goals. She also tallied the most win points (1,130) and the most MVP points (255) while losing just two games.

One of four players named to the 2022 Lacrosse All-Defensive Team, Becca Block was voted the Defensive Player of the Year. Finishing with 1,023 points, she caused 15 turnovers, collected 22 ground balls and won 14 draw controls this season.

“It’s such an honor to be named GEICO Defensive Player of the Year among such an elite group of athletes who competed in Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse this season,” Block said. “Kudos to GEICO for supporting the defensive side of the game which isn’t always recognized and congrats to all the players on another successful season.”

Full scores

Thursday, Aug. 11:

  • Team Johansen 5, Team Apuzzo 8
  • Team Moreno 13, Team Glynn 8

Saturday, Aug. 13:

  • Team Glynn 5, Team Apuzzo 11
  • Team Johansen 9, Team Moreno 10

Sunday, Aug. 14:

  • Team Glynn 13, Team Johansen 16
  • Team Apuzzo 7, Team Moreno 9