January 31, 2013

Goose's Take: Champion Challenge an Inspiring Weekend

Monica "Goose" Vogel, left, with U.S. attacker Lindsey Munday after Munday was named MVP in Team USA's 16-9 win over Northwestern on Sunday at Champion Challenge.
Image courtesy Vogel family

Lacrosse Magazine dispatched 11-year-old Monica "Goose" Vogel as a youth reporter for last weekend's Champion Challenge, the annual US Lacrosse event at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Here is her report, including thoughts on several games from the weekend and Team USA's youth clinic.

by Monica "Goose" Vogel | LaxMagazine.com

Champion Challenge's primary purpose is to showcase battles between the best college teams and the U.S. national teams. But another reason lies beneath it: to encourage young girls to play lacrosse.

Supporting this movement, Champion donates a portion of every lacrosse product they sell to US Lacrosse, providing equipment for underprivileged and new teams.

"Champion has entered into this agreement because the future of lacrosse has grown like crazy throughout the nation," said Joe Mauter, who works with Champion. "Obviously, it used to be only in the Northeast. Now it has been played in Florida. It has been played in Missouri. It has been played all over."

Illustrating his point, all of the young girls that I encountered this weekend were from Florida, and a few were on teams that I am rivals with.

All three days of Champion Challenge were a blast. Day 1, on Friday, focused on the Haudenosaunee girls and their great spirit. Day 2 featured the Team USA girls' youth clinic and an intense match between Northwestern and Team England that ended in overtime. On Day 3, I interviewed lots of players from Team USA. Together, Champion Challenge inspired me and many other girls my age to keep playing the thrilling game of lacrosse.

Day 1 — Representing Your Nation

Haudenosaunee and England battled hard for the winning position, both teams desperate to claim themselves victors. Unfortunately, the game did not treat Haudenosaunee well. But their spirit lives on. After the game, some of the members of the team were kind enough to tell me about their culture. The Haudenosaunee are formed by six nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. I was inspired by them and will now appreciate lacrosse in a new way. I will see it as an opportunity to entertain The Creator.

Goose Vogel taking notes at Champion Challenge. She enjoyed several games, Team USA's youth clinic and talking to national team players.
Image from Goose Sports

Day 2 — Team USA Youth Clinic an Exhilarating Atmosphere

The elated environment created at the youth clinic followed me throughout Day 2 of Champion Challenge. Learning with the girls from Team USA heightened my spirit tons. I am always willing to learn more and I love improving myself to be a better player. Team USA helped me do just that: Thank you Team USA!!! The other young girls at the clinic seemed like they were eager to play, just like me, and were just plain happy to be there; they were going to meet Team USA!!! I had a ton of fun and hope to attend the clinic next year.

On the main fields, three games were played during the day. The first two had clear winners: USA used their speed and agility to defeat England in a really fast-paced game. In the second, the Rollins bench was fired up and ready to go, which led them to a conclusive win against the Haudenosaunee.

Unlike the first two games, however, neither team was the decisive winner in the third; Northwestern and England were evenly matched. With only a minute left in the tied game, Northwestern bulleted into the eight and scored. But then, all of a sudden, the referee yelled for everyone to drop their sticks. England had requested a stick check and the pocket of the girl who scored was illegal. The shot did not count! The first three minutes of overtime were discreet. But in the second, Northwestern shoved through England's defense and managed to launch the ball into the goal. Frantic to beat Northwestern, England intensified. With only five seconds left, England sprinted down the field but could not make it in time to tie Northwestern. [Ed. note — Goose couldn't stay for Team USA's game with Syracuse on Saturday night because of a family committment.]

Day 3 — Inspiration from USA Players

Culminating the event on Sunday, three games were showcased. High-reaching Syracuse controlled the game against the Haudenosaunee by repeatedly winning the draws, leading to a decisive win. The game between USA and Northwestern was dominated by speed and agility. Trampling players brought goals to both teams but USA overpowered them. In the last game, England's outstanding defense was no match for Syracuse's unbeatable offense. Syracuse displayed excellent ball movement against England's defense.

But the real fun today came after the games. Talking with the players on Team USA motivated me to enjoy the game of lacrosse even more. I received advice, pictures, and suggestions from many of them. Some of the advice they provided were "Practice, practice, practice," "Use your right and left hand," and of course, "Have fun!" This will help me become a better and more confident lacrosse player in the future. I hope they influence you too. In the words of Team USA, #9, MVP Lindsey Munday, "We all play the sport because we love it!"

For more from Goose, check out her blog "Goose Sports" and follow her on Twitter at @GooseSports.

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