LAKE PLACID - The 24th annual Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament kicked off Monday morning with play in the youth divisions getting underway and thousands of lacrosse players and fans already making their way to the Olympic Region.
In total, 224 teams will be on hand to compete in this year's Summit Classic which ends Sunday, according to tournament founder George Leveille.
"We've got 18 different divisions of play, ranging from 15-and-under boys and girls to 60-and-over men's divisions," Leveille said. "So, it's quite a diverse group. Many of our teams and players have been here for many years. We're very fortunate that very few teams don't come back. So it's become a collection of friends and people who share a love for the sport and this great area."
Members of the ’Dacks Lax team gather last year prior to one of their games during the Summit Lacrosse Tournament at the North Elba Show Grounds facility in Lake Placid. ’Dacks Lax will field a team in the men’s open 2 division this year, opening Friday at 1:30 p.m. against CNY Roadhawks.
(Enterprise file photo — Lou Reuter)
At Monday's new conference, held at the tournament headquarters in conjunction with the first games of 2013, Leveille explained to members of the media that the Lake Placid Summit Classic, which started in 1990 with about 10 teams, has grown to become a draw for lacrosse players and families from across the continent.
"We've got players from all over the country," Leveille said. "Teams range from Florida to Kansas and Missouri in the Midwest. We've got Canadians, folks from all over the place. We've got geographic diversity.
"We're really a family event," Leveille continued. "If you look around here, you'll see many, many families. They spend their vacation here. Because of the way we're set up, parents can come up and watch their kids play Monday through Wednesday, and then the parents play the rest of the week. So you've got a lot of people who spend their summer vacation here but play lacrosse at the same time."
Though it's become family oriented in many ways, Leveille added that the Lake Placid Summit Classic also draws many of lacrosse's most elite players from various levels to compete, especially in the adult divisions.
"We have 17 college alumni programs that play here in the latter part of the week, and that includes Syracuse and Johns Hopkins, some of the most decorated programs, as well as Cornell, Princeton, Dartmouth and many others schools," Leveille said. "So that's another element that has added to the family dynamic, with people coming here as college alumni to play lacrosse but bringing their families."
Up-to-the-minute score updates and news stories are available by downloading the Sport Ngin mobile app for smart phones. Instructions on downloading the app can be found on the Lake Placid Summit Classic website. Follow @LakePlacidLax on Twitter, @LakePlacidLax on Instagram and Lake Placid Lacrosse on Facebook for additional content and coverage of the tournament.
Abbott named director of officials
About 18 years after first coming to Lake Placid to officiate, Tom Abbott has been named the new Director of Officials at the Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament.
Abbott, who played at Syracuse University from 1975 to 1978 and was twice named an All-American, is widely considered to be one of the most knowledgeable and experienced officials in the game. He has officiated games at the international, professional, collegiate and high school level, including the FIL World Lacrosse Championships, numerous NCAA championships and a long list of other high-profile events on his resume.
Abbott first came to Lake Placid as an official, but then after that attended the tournament as both a player and an official. Over the years, Abbott put down the stick to help organize the growing number of games at the Summit Classic, which went from less than 100 games in the mid-90s to now featuring more than 500 different contests throughout the week.
"Back then, we could do both (play and officiate)," said Abbott, whose father, Larry, was also a player at Syracuse and officiated for many years. "We don't do that anymore. We try to limit it. It was getting too complicated. There's too many divisions and too many games that wouldn't get properly officiated if we tried that."
The previous Director of Officials, John Morgan, decided last year that any official who wanted to play would need to refrain from playing on the same day as any of his or her scheduled officiating gigs. That hasn't stopped some of the participating officials from wearing the stripes early in the week and then picking up the stick later in the week for the adult divisions.
"It works out OK, and we have four or five guys doing that," Abbott said.
But the task of staffing officials across all the games taking place at the Summit Classic, both Abbott and event organizers say, has grown into a grand undertaking - one that he was proud to accept after working for many years with Morgan, who is now considered the Director Emeritus.
"It's a huge job, it really is. It's hard, " Abbott said. He added that the group of officials first staffing the tournament were based in Albany, and now the pool of officials includes men and women from all over the map, even with guest officials from England on a few occasions.
"What has made it more hard in the last few years are some of the changes we've made, like deciding to put three officials on the field for the U-19 field, because they can really play. They really move. They deserve to have three officials. So we decided to pull one (official) from the older groups because they're not running as fast and you can do those games with two refs. What makes it hard for the assigner now is you have to jockey the time frame with the bracket of the game. Is it a two man is it a three man? It's hard. But we've got it done."
Kevin Leveille, associate director of the Lake Placid Summit Classic, said that with the changes taking place in the game of lacrosse, he feels it's important to keep "the best" people involved to continue what Morgan started and continued for two decades.
"The tournament keeps growing, so you need to have the best staff you could have, and so we're arming these positions with the right people," Leveille said.
"I think the bottom line is this," Abbott said. "John Morgan has had so much trust for us for so many years, and it's important we carry that on. So you've got to have the right people to do it. John is still here, and I'm still reffing. George Leveille wanted me to still ref a few more years, so I'm going to ref games in the morning when John's at the tent. It's great thing for him to still be around and do the things he's done for twenty-some years. And it really helps."
Abbott, who has accomplished so much as a player, an official and as the father of two well known figures in lacrosse (Mike, an assistant at Colgate University, and Matt Abbott, currently a midfielder with the Chesapeake Bayhawks), says he still views the annual trip to Lake Placid as the highlight of his summer.
"This has always been the one thing in lacrosse that everyone looks forward to coming to," he said. "It's the same for you, it's for me, it's the same for everyone."
Girls tournament expands
The 24th annual Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Classic continues to grow, and this summer's event features a new scholastic girls division for players in the high school classes of 2017 and 2018.
Six teams comprise the first ever 2017-2018 girls division: the Outlaw Ladies (from Central New York), Bethlem (from New York's Capital Region), the Lady Eagles from Long Island, the Dazzling Divas (also from Long Island) and two Star Riders squads, Star Riders Red and Star Riders Blue, made up girls from Central New York, the Southern Tier and beyond.
Mike Sanchez, who coaches the Lady Eagles, said the new division is a big help in giving young rising girls the chance to compete in an organized and competitive setting, which while more common for boys of the same age is tougher to find for girls.
"It gives them an opportunity to get better down the road," said Sanchez, who made the annual trip to Lake Placid and Saranac Lake for the Can-Am Rugby for about 25 years before finally making it to the Summit Classic for the first time this summer. "There are very good quality teams (in the 2017-2018 bracket)."
Sanchez said he has kept the group of girls, including his daughter Madison, on the Lady Eagles team together for the past four years, and having the chance to pit them against girls in the same age bracket should go a long way in helping their development.
"That's what we're trying to do here, we keep them together from the time they're little kids all the way through college. These girls have been playing together for four years."
Here's a look at how the first day of action in the six different Scholastic Divisions turned out.
After the first day, five teams in the highly anticipated U-19 boys bracket were unbeaten. The Buffalo Soldiers out of Western New York, the Long Island Express, the Baltimore Crabs, Lax World (made up of players from Western New York and the Rochester area) and Central New York-based Liberty were all 2-0 after Monday's action wrapped up.
Two of the most notable games were the Buffalo Soldiers' 9-8 win over Ithaca and the Long Island Express' 12-11 victory over the Coldbrook Laxers. A marquee matchup is on tap for today as Liberty and Lax World are scheduled to face-off at 10:15 a.m.
U-18 Boys Gold
Five teams in the U-18 Gold boys bracket made it through Monday with two wins and no losses to sit atop the standings heading into today's action. The FCA National HS team (last year's U-18 Gold champion), Long Island powerhouse Shoreham-Wading River, the Buffalo Soldiers from Western New York, the Coldbrook Laxers from Central New York and Be the Best, a program from the New York City area, each were 2-0 after the first day.
In a couple notable contests, Coldbrook scored a big win in downing the Baltimore Crabs 2014 squad 8-6 and Shoreham-Wading River earned a 6-3 win against Ithaca Varsity. Two of these so-far undefeated teams meet today as the FCA National HS Team will meet Be The Best at 12:45 p.m.
U-18 Boys Silver
The U-18 Boys Silver division also saw five teams come away from their pair of games Monday with 2-0 records and in good position heading into today. Bar Down Lacrosse (a team of players from New England), Fighting Four 2014 from New York's Southern Tier, the Spencerport Rangers from near Rochester, the FCA squad, the Rocky Point Swag from Long Island and the Western Royals from Missouri were atop the bracket Monday evening. At 11:30 today, two important games are scheduled, with Bar Down Lacrosse taking on the Rocky Point Swag and the Fighting Four facing off against the Western Royals.
Four squads got off to 2-0 starts in the Boys U-16 bracket on Monday. Academy Mortgage out of Maryland, the Flyers out of Rochester, and two Long Island teams - the Long Island Express 2017 and Long Island Outlaws 2016 - each won both of their first-day contests, setting up what should be an exciting second day in the youngest boys' bracket. Academy Mortgage and Flyers squads showed excellent defense, allowing a total of just two and four goals, respectively, in their two games.
Mass Elite Red and FCA's 2014-2016 team both finished Monday with 2-0 records, as both teams cruised through a pair of convincing wins. Mass Elite Red outscored the competition 42-7 on day one, while the FCA squad registered 31 goals and allowed just six in two victories.
Two Long Island-based squads sit at the top of the standings, as the Lady Eagles and the Dazzling Divas both finished the day at 2-0 with considerable scoring margins after day one. The Lady Eagles scored 29 goals, while allowing just 11. And the Dazzling Divas put up 23 goals while allowing just 12. These two undefeated teams will face two other squads before meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Casey Vock, editor of ILGear.com, will be at the tournament all week taking photographs and reporting. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.