This past weekend Maryland welcomed a lacrosse takeover with the final rounds of the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Tournament. Adding to the Championship weekend, US Lacrosse held its National Tournament for the Schoolgirls Division at Cedar Lane Regional Park in Bel Air. The National Tournament, which took place May 24-25, dates back to 1933 and finds its roots in regional post-collegiate club all star teams. The Schoolgirls Division originated in 1981 and features high school varsity girls lacrosse players ranging from grades 9-11. Growing from 36 teams a decade ago to the 63 teams which participated in this year’s event; the National Tournament has become a premier recruiting event for college coaches. Director of Communications at US Lacrosse, Brian Logue, states, “This event is always held near the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship in order to allow college coaches to both attend the championships and recruit at the US Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament. Cedar Lane has been used for this event the last two times that the NCAA championship was held at Towson.”
The 1,250 plus participants in the US Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament were given the option to watch the NCAA Semifinal and Championship games which took place at Towson University this past weekend. The players also competed in two full days of pool and bracket competition. After the Schoolgirls Championship game for the Onondaga Division, the Val Walchak Trophy was presented to the Long Island Metro 1 winning team. The prestigious Heather Leigh Albert Award for most outstanding player was also presented to Olivia Jenner (Baltimore Metro 1) from McDonogh School.
Over the years, the National Tournament has grown, not only, in participants, but also, in the areas its players represent. This year’s tournament boasted players from 29 states with division champions from New York, Illinois/Wisconsin, California, Virginia, Oregon and Florida. What makes this event different from other lacrosse tournaments is the tryout process. In order to participate in the tournament, athletes must try out for regional teams. The girls are brought out of their comfort zone since they aren’t playing with their usual club teams. This gives college coaches from all levels the opportunity to see how well these players can adjust to new environments. For participants, they are given the opportunity to show coaches their abilities in a higher level of play.
Another unique aspect of this year’s tournament is that it also served as an evaluation period for the US Under-19 coaching staff. The US Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament also acts as the first round of tryouts for the 2015 U.S. Women’s National Under-19 Team. The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s Under-19 National Championship has been held every four years since 1995. The U.S. Team has won all but one of these championships. The national scope of this event adds to the buzz that surrounds it.
The incredible turnout at the National Tournament was only helped by the great weather experienced over the weekend. Overall, US Lacrosse succeeded in its goal to create a first-class experience for its members through the Women’s National Tournament. The organization strives for the promotion of lacrosse and what better way to highlight the sport and its growth than through its high school division! After all, many of these talented players may one day find themselves with a NCAA Championship Title of their own.