Believe it or not, the second decade of CIF-Southern Section lacrosse begins today. The first CIF season was played in 2006 with nothing but the Original 3 of Foothill, Los Alamitos, and St. Margaret’s. That’s right. As recently as 2006, only three Orange County programs had CIF programs. Recognizing the need to build excitement for the sport, the Original 3 got together and played in the first Knights Challenge at Tustin High School’s Northrop Stadium to open the 2007 season. The Original 3 have done the same thing every year since. Only there have been some changes along the way.
First of all the event has a new identity this year. Foothill head coach Jon Fox tells MaxLaxOC.com “It’s now called the Orange County Invitational to reflect the many teams participating in hosting games and putting it on.” The OCI also has grown geographically and in the number of teams. Once limited to three teams from the OC, this years event will include six teams from four counties. In addition to the Original 3, Great Oak (Riverside County), Loyola (Los Angeles County), and Oak Park (Ventura County) will participate.
Perhaps the biggest changes are the technology changes and the pairing of an NCAA Division 1 game. It’s hard to tell what would have seemed more far fetched to those fans watching the first Knight’s Challenge in 2006: Watching a high school lacrosse game on your phone or an NCAA Division 1 game in Orange County. Today’s 3:45 game between Foothill and Oak Park at Orange Coast College will be live streamed on MaxLaxOC.com. That game will be followed by the D1 tilt between Michigan and Delaware. The other OCI games today will be played at St. Margaret’s; Loyola vs. St. Margaret’s and Great Oak vs. Los Alamitos
Coach Fox is confident that the Orange County Invitational will continue to grow and get better: “In future we’d like to have out of section and out of state teams also involved.’