Central Championships Descend Upon Wisconsin for Second Straight Year
|Action from the fourth annual US
Lacrosse Central Championships, being hosted by US Lacrosse
alongside the Madison Area Lacrosse Association in Wisconsin for
the second straight year. The tournament for U13 and U15 boys and
girls began today and continues through Sunday.
VERONA, Wis. -- When talking about lacrosse in Wisconsin, many people will automatically think of the city in the northwest part of the state that lies alongside the Mississippi River (it's actually spelled La Crosse). But that perception is starting to change, especially in and around the capital city of Madison.
Established in 2002 with eight club high school boys' teams, the Madison Area Lacrosse Association now sponsors play for more than 80 teams, including both boys' and girls' teams on the youth and high school levels. For the second straight year, MALA has partnered with the sport's national governing body to host the US Lacrosse Central Championships at Reddan Soccer Park in Verona.
"It's definitely a lot easier in year two as compared to year one," said Dave Wollin of MALA. "Between securing volunteers, lining the fields, working with the folks at Redden Park, everything is a lot smoother. Just knowing what to expect makes things easier."
The US Lacrosse Central Championships consists of four divisions, U15 Boys and Girls and U13 Boys and Girls. A total of 36 teams representing Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin will compete over the three days. The top four teams in each U15 division will receive automatic invitations, with free or discounted registration, to the sixth annual US Lacrosse U15 National Championships, July 21-23 in Aurora, Colo.
This is the fourth year for the Central Championships. The first one, held in 2011 in Arlington, Texas, consisted just of U15 Boys and Girls. It expanded to include U13 Boys and Girls the following year. Last year, in Madison, saw the Green Machine from Indiana sweep the U15 and U13 Boys titles while Wildcat Elite from Illinois won the U15 Girls championship and Florida's Flow 24/7 took the U13 Girls crown.
Play in this year's championships began Friday night with 19 games across the four divisions. Pool play will continue on Saturday morning with teams being seeded after that. Bracket play will take place on Saturday afternoon and evening, continuing on Sunday with the semifinals and finals. The largest division is U15 Girls, which consists of 16 teams and will comprise of 54 games before a champion is crowned.
A far cry from Madison's early lacrosse roots.
"Walking around here I have a huge smile on my face," Wollin said. "I remember the days where we could barely get enough players and coaches to field teams in Wisconsin, and now we have 10 fields with games going on concurrently. It's amazing to think of the growth of the sport in this area."
That is evident even to outsiders.
"Last year was my first time in Wisconsin and we had a tremendous turnout," said Shannon Minter from US Lacrosse. "It's great to see that we have a large number of teams again this year. It's just awesome to see the growth of the game."
If the first day is any indication, the competition will be fierce. Six of the 19 games were decided by one or two goals, including an 8-7 win for Lakeshore 2019 (Ill.) over Minnesota Elite in U15 Girls that saw Lakeshore score the game-winner seconds before the final horn.
All but four teams played on Friday. With 64 games on tap for Saturday, there should be plenty of action for everyone.
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