June 10, 2011

Texas Talent on Display at USL Central Regional

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com


The Coppell Cowgirls are one of 35 teams participating in the US Lacrosse Lax Fest.

© Mike Stone

ARLINGTON, Texas -- They came from all around Texas, some from California, and even a few from Missouri and Tennessee. Players populating nearly 50 youth teams arrived at Patterson Sports Complex in Arlington for the three-day US Lacrosse Lax Fest and U15 Central Regional championship that began Friday afternoon.

In typical Texas heat and sun shining over clear blue skies and pristine grass fields, 35 teams participated in the Lax Fest, which includes play in five divisions: U11, U13 and U15 boys and U13 and U15 girls. Ten other teams competed in the boys and girls U15 regional championship, for which pool play began Friday afternoon and will continue Saturday morning.

The top four finishers in the boys and girls regional championships here will be invited to the 3rd Annual US Lacrosse U15 national championships in July in Lake Buena Vista, Fla at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

“We’re trying for a regional spot in Orlando,” said Mike Newton, coach of the Houston-based Houlaguns, who beat the Bluehorns, from Texas, 12-7, in a boys’ U15 pool play game Friday.

The Houlaguns are a collection of players from the Houston Lacrosse Academy, formed by Newton, also the coach of the Memorial High School boys’ team. The team includes players from about six different middle school programs, and some high school programs, including strong Houston lacrosse areas like Woodlands and Clearlake. Gus Pinsoneault, who had four goals and four assists in the game against the Bluehorns, comes from Woodlands.

“We started the Houston Lacrosse Academy to try to do some offseason play,” Newton said. “The academy has grown into skill sessions and travel teams, and this is one of our travel teams, the U15 team.”

Of Houston lacrosse, which in Texas has been thought of as in the shadow of the Dallas area’s development: “That’s typical of all things in Texas. Most people stop at Dallas. Houston, in business and everything else, kind of takes on that stereotype. But there’s 22 high school teams. The sport, like everywhere else, is growing tremendously.”

One team from the Dallas area is the sixth and seventh grade girls team from Coppell, a Dallas suburb. They earned a pool play win over the BRIDGE Dallas team, 10-5. The team is coached by Stacy Balsamo, a former player at Trinity in San Antonio, who now coaches, referees and continues to play on a Dallas post-collegiate team that is headed to the Vail tournament later this summer.

After Coppell’s game, one of its players, Maddie Lawhorn talked about what attracted her to play lacrosse. She also played soccer and basketball and picked up lacrosse last year. She’s played one full year, but already is looking forward to more challenges.

“I wish we could play guys,” she said. “Not even kidding.”

U15 pool play continues early Saturday morning and teams will then be seeded into a bracket format with tournament games played Saturday afternoon. The boys’ and girls’ U15 championships are set for 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

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