March 9, 2011

Making of a Game: Gettysburg vs. Cortland

from press release

GETTYSBURG, Pa. – For the third consecutive year, two heavyweights in NCAA Division III men's lacrosse will square off on Long Island when No. 16 Gettysburg College battles No. 4 SUNY Cortland at John J. Burns Park in Massapequa, N.Y., on Saturday.

The epic confrontation, featuring two of the top lacrosse programs in the nation, came out of the minds of two ardent supporters of the programs who reside in the Long Island area. Chris Re', a 1978 graduate of Gettysburg, and Joe Lawless, a graduate of Cortland, thought a game between their alma maters would help the continued rise of lacrosse in the area, not to mention give the winner bragging rights.

"We were just discussing what a great event it would be to get two of the quality programs in the country together on Long Island," recalled Re'. "We are both active with lacrosse in Massapequa so we presented the idea to the Massapequa Lacrosse Club."

With the help of Massapequa Lax Club President John Kirby and Town Supervisor John Venditto and his chief of staff Len Genova, the idea took form and on March 7, 2009, Gettysburg and Cortland met at John J. Burns Park. The Red Dragons won that meeting 14-8. The contest proved to be a preview of the national title game, as Cortland fended off the Bullets for a 9-7 win at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., later that spring.

While Gettysburg head coach Hank Janczyk was hesitant about the year-to-year status of the game, he quickly realized the overall experience would more than make up for the uncertainty of the game being scheduled.

"People really want to promote lacrosse on Long Island and they've done such a great job promoting this game," noted Janczyk.

In 2010, the game continued to grow, drawing over 5,000 fans and national media coverage. In addition to the game, a free clinic for local youth lacrosse players was held. This time around, Re' could proudly display his orange and blue as the Bullets knocked off No. 1 Cortland 7-5.

"The Gettysburg/Cortland angle was crafted by Joe and we refer to it as the North/South showdown," noted Re'. "There is a Supervisor's Cup - currently residing in my office - and bragging rights. This event has just developed into a fun family event and a tremendously positive day for Long Island, lacrosse, Gettysburg, and Cortland."

This weekend's game sees Cortland flying high with wins in each of its first two games of the 2011 campaign. Gettysburg sits at 3-2 and is coming off a 21-goal outburst against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy this past Tuesday (March 8).

More schools have joined the Long Island movement. Stevenson University beat Western New England College 18-8 on March 5 at John J. Burns Park and Duke University will face the University of Denver on April 9 in Bethpage. There has also been talk about adding a game between Gettysburg's and Cortland's women's lacrosse squads.

"It helps the local community because they really rally around the game of lacrosse, and they love the idea of getting college lacrosse played more on Long Island," said Janczyk. "Long Island high school players [who attend Cortland or Gettysburg] know they will be playing on Long Island at least once a year, and that's probably a very positive thought for them."

For Re' in particular, the game is a way to keep his strong bond with Gettysburg going strong. He bleeds orange and blue, and he wants to share his love for the College with other would-be Bullets.

"My problem is that half my wardrobe is ORANGE and I'm darn proud of it," said Re'. "I am constantly looking for good quality student-athletes that I think would be a good fit for Gettysburg. It is critically important to me that we continue to attract exceptional student athletes."

"It's a great place," Re' added in reference to his alma mater. "I had an unbelievable experience and I take great pleasure in seeing the next generation of student-athletes excel at Gettysburg and have a similarly positive experience."

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