Los Angeles, CA – The 2nd Annual USBOXLA Nationals wraps up with 3 days chocked full of the highest level of Box Lacrosse competition to ever take place on USA soil.
Elite Box Lacrosse Organizations from Colorado, Washington, Minnesota, Alberta, BC and California descended upon the Los Angeles area for the annual event that featured 22 teams in 3 division. What separates this event from any other in the USA is the quality and style of play. The play in the Box is interchangeable with any Canadian Tournament.
Most of the teams in attendance have just returned from their Canadian tours and have multiple years worth of legit elite level Box Lacrosse training. This also marks the 3rd and final time the core group of American Box Lacrosse organizations will meet on USA soil in 2013. The season started early in the new year with Vancouver Stealth’s King of the Northwest Tournament, followed by Denver Elite’s Battle in the Box taking place in June. The teams then went off to Canada and returned to meet here in LA for the USBOXLA Nationals. Teams were firing on all cylinders for this event.
Before the tournament commenced, the US Box Lacrosse Association hosted a referee certification clinic to ensure the tournament’s participants safe and consistent game play. Steve Verba (California) and Adam Gardner (Ontario) led referees from Colorado, Minnesota, California and British Columbia through the intense 4 hour course. “We need to work just as hard as all these players and coaches at developing the game-play here in the USA” says Steve Verba USBOXLA Referee in Chief. “These coaches have their well trained players playing on an edge, they are playing here to win, they are beyond the US’s introduction to indoor field lacrosse and it’s up to us 15 refs here at this tournament to make sure it’s played within the exact standards of the USBOXLA Rule Book”.
“Years ago when Cali*Lax first started traveling to Box tournaments in the USA, these untrained field refs hired to work would stop the play, bring the coaches in and say whoa whoa whoa, we’re here to have fun, tell your players to take it easy. Actually, no, I’m training my kids to win at Box like any field lacrosse travel team paying money to play would. We shouldn’t treat this game any different. We stopped going to those events and found great partners with the same Box pedigree, developed the game and now we’re all training very hard and playing to win. This tournament is a collection of these American partners and this is what Box Lacrosse is” says Shaydon Santos, President of the US Box Lacrosse Association.
Coaching these elite level Box Lacrosse teams gathered at the tournament, were the following coaches: Matt Brown, Lewis Ratcliff, Shaydon Santos, Aimee Caines, Brett Hickey, Jason Noble, Andrew McBride, Jamie Shewchuk, Ryan Benesch and Adam Bysouth. All Canadian pro players who’ve spent their entire lives within the top Box organizations in Canada and the professional ranks.
Box newcomer and Princeton lacrosse legend Trevor Tierney joined his Denver Elite crew on the bench for his first official Box Lacrosse event said this after the event “I now completely understand the emphasis Matt (Denver Coach Matt Brown) put on Box development. This game, played as is should, is bringing development back into the equation here in the USA.”
Even Trevor’s dad Bill Tierney, US Lacrosse hall of famer and 6x National Champion at Princeton chimed in
— Bill Tierney (@DUCoachTierney) August 10, 2013
Joining the US Box Lacrosse Association for their first event was the Jr Minnesota Swarm. Santos says this “there was one group we wanted in our Association this year and it was the National Lacrosse League’s Minnesota Swarm. We look for groups that understand the end goal in player development and most importantly can give our teams some real Box Lacrosse competition. Aimee Caines and Ryan Benesch, some of the top Box players in the world delivered.”
“There’s always a sense of fear. Everybody in the USA is scared of Box mostly because people have never seen it or played it at the youth level. The uncoached, untrained 8 week version served in the USA is scary . Once you have people who’ve played it their entire lives at the helm, can teach the game as it’s meant to be played and you have well trained officials then the game, as it’s been given to us, can be played, played safely and played well” says Matt Brown, University of Denver Associate head coach and Team Canada coach.
“The experience for our boys was awesome. Great tournament, great venue, great reffing, we loved it and most importantly our families did too” says Aimee Caines, Director of the Minnesota Swarm Youth Development Leagues whose participants number over 1300. “We’re in for everything, all the tournaments, everything, this is the game we want to be a part of” he continued.
After the tournament ended the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS cemented their claim as the Standard for US Box Lacrosse by bringing home 3 medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze) at the USBOXLA Nationals with the Jr Stealth hot in their heels winning 3 medals as well (Gold, Bronze, Bronze).
At the Pee Wee level the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS ‘A’ Team dominated from the very first whistle to the last winning the gold in easy fashion beating the Denver Elite in the gold medal game. The same team avenged their gold medal loss at Calgary’s Canada Day Tournament to the Burlington Chiefs. The Jr Stealth took home the bronze.
At the Bantam level the Jr Stealth continued their winning ways and went undefeated throughout the tournament taking home gold by beating the Canadians 9-4, an all-star team of Calgary area players. The Jr Stealth Bantams also had a great showing in Calgary going undefeated there. The Cali*Lax ALL-STARS took home the bronze in this division.
Finally, Andrew McBride’s, a 2 time world champion with Calgary Roughneck, Mavericks took home the Midget gold beating the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS, a team undefeated in 2 years. The Mavericks are an ALL-STAR team comprised of Central Alberta players. The goal medal game went into a shootout locked at 6 and the Mavericks took the 3 shot contest 1-0. Fans were not disappointed to this nail-bitter. The Jr Stealth took home the bronze in this level.
It wasn’t all work and no play at the tournament either. The US Box Lacrosse Association’s Kill’r Shootout crowed America’s best breakaway artist in the Pee Wee, Bantam and Midget age groups. Because these boys are big time, cold hard crisp Benjamins were awarded to the steely nerved champion at each level.
“It’s a great time to end the season and a family destination. Not only is there great competition, there’s also the beaches, Hollywood and Disneyland right there” says Jamie Shewchuk, Denver Elite bench boss and crafty left NLL finisher.
The elite level teams gathered at this tournament will go back to their local areas, train hard and meet again early in the new year. The games played at this tournament are simply the best Box Lacrosse games ever played on US soil.