It’s time to close the books on another year and look forward to the new year and the 2014 high lacrosse season. 2013 was an exciting year for Orange County lacrosse as the quality of play as well as the variety of local opportunities continue to improve. There is much to look forward to in 2014 but before we do that, we thought we’d reminisce with our Top 10 news stories for 2013.
10. Ansel Takes the Helm at Fullerton
This summer El Toro High School alum Mike Ansel was named the head coach of the California State University – Fullerton Titans. Ansel takes over a Titans lacrosse program that finished 2013 with a 15-5 overall record and 4-1 in Southwest Lacrosse Conference play. They fell just short of a trip to the nationals when they lost to Concordia in the SLC championship game. Ansel is intimately familiar with the local talent pool, and his popularity with the players will serve as a magnet for players looking for a quality lacrosse program close to home. The prediction here is that Ansel will take Fullerton to the next level by attracting top local talent to his program.
9. Edison Adds CIF Lacrosse
This spring Edison High School will play its first lacrosse game as a member of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section. With the addition of the Chargers, there are now 80 CIF lacrosse programs in the CIFSS, leaving us (by unofficial count) 35 teams shy of CIF playoffs.
8. Pacific Lacrosse Shootout is Announced
The inaugural Pacific Shootout will pit Notre Dame against Denver University in a high noon duel on March 8, 2014 at Orange Coast College. This battle between two Top 10 teams will be a first for the OC, and serves notice that the OC is closing in on lacrosse hotbed status. It will also be a homecoming for Denver junior Eric Adamson (Foothill High School), Notre Dame senior Ryan Mix (Corona del Mar High School), and Denver freshman Scott McGowan (St. Margaret’s Episcopal School).
Tickets for the inaugural Pacific Coast Shootout cost $35 for Reserved Sections and $25 for General Admission and are currently on sale at pclaxshootout.com. Unconfirmed sources that may have been misquoted out of context report that proud dad Bryan McGowan will buy beer for the first 1,000 fans that mention MaxLaxOC.com as they enter the gates into the game.
7. MCLA Nationals Come to the OC
About 10 weeks after the Pacific Lacrosse Shootout, the OC will host its second big time college lacrosse event, the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Tournament. From May 12 through May 17, 16 teams each from MCLA Divisions 1 and 2 will compete for national championships The first two rounds of the tournament will be held on the University of California Irvine campus recreation fields before moving to Chapman University for the semi-finals and championship games. The Southwest Lacrosse Conference, which includes Chapman (Division 1), Concordia College (Division 2), and California State University Fullerton (Division 2) as members, will host the tournament.
6. The Year of the Face-Off
Orange County lacrosse experienced the power of face-off domination for the first time in 2013. St. Margaret’s sophomore face-off specialist Ryan Harnisch lead his team to the US Lacrosse Southern Section championship and earned player of the year honors with his prowess at the face-off X. Joining Harnisch as an elite FOGO was Foothill sophomore Austin Babb. There is not much doubt that the prospect of facing these two guys for another two years left opposing coaches scrambling for solutions and focusing on developing their own FOGOs like never before. Look for some great duels at the face-off X in 2014.
5. CdM Bid to Break Jahangir Khan’s Record Falls Short
On April 15, 2013 San Ramon Valley scored with 20 seconds left in the game to beat CdM 10-9 and end the Sea Kings’ win streak at 36 games. It was the first time the Sea Kings had lost since the 2011 playoffs, and terminated their bid to break Pakistani-squash- player Jahangir Khan’s world sports record of 555 consecutive wins.
4. Doors to International Opportunities Open
The global growth of lacrosse has created new opportunities for OC laxers. Huntington Beach High School 2013 graduate Trevor Jackson broke new ground when he earned a spot on Team Scotland. Yorba Linda High School senior Ryan Viadero will represent Spain at next summer’s FIL World Lacrosse Championships that will be held in Denver, Colo., July 10-19, 2014, and St. Margaret’s sophomore goal recently returned home from a trip to Jerusalem and Poland with the U19 Israeli team. Note to self: talk to partners about funding trip to research opportunities with the Fiji national team.
3. Tribz Lacrosse California Showcase
More of a homebody than a jet setter? Then the Tribz Lacrosse California Showcase is welcome news for you. University High School head coach Andreas Gaynor has given OC laxers of all ages a reason to stay close to home with his well-organized late summer tournament at the Great Park in Irvine. Players ranging in age from U11 to classmates of Abraham Lincoln (the Masters Division) filled the four new fields at the Great Park while playing beneath the big orange hot air balloon. With four new fields scheduled to be open this year, look for the California Showcase to be bigger and better in 2014.
2. Cal Lax Classic
Speaking of bigger and better, the directors of the Cal Lax Classic in San Juan Capistrano keep finding ways to improve on a good thing with their July tournament. This year over 50 teams from as far away as Texas and Seattle competed for titles in six different division. No other OC lacrosse event attracts on such a national scale. The tournament is extremely well organized and the variety of onsite vendors is second to none. Registration is already open for the July 5-6, 2014 edition of the Cal Lax Classic.
1. St. Margaret’s Rebuilds
The prevailing wisdom around the OC last spring was that it was going to take Glen Miles and the St. Margaret’s Tartans a year or two to recover from the graduation losses of their 2012 team. 2013 was supposed to be a rebuilding season. They were ranked #7 to start the season and slipped to as low as number 10 when they started the season 1-3. The Tartans then took off on an 18-game win streak that brought them all the way to the Southern Section Championship. All-County performers Chase Williams (Haverford University), Scott McGowan (Denver), Brandon Suchand (Grand Canyon University), and Alex Waller have graduated. Rumor has it that the Tartans will have too many holes to fill this year to repeat. Sound familiar?