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written by Alex Smith
|The Vail Lacrosse Shootout has long been a place for some of the best lacrosse players in the world to gather and join together in celebration, both on and off the field. In 2007, Vail Lacrosse turned 35 and the tournament’s gift to fans was some of the best lacrosse in years. Highlighted by a Men’s Elite Championship game for the ages and one of the most dominating Women’s Elite performances in history, the Shootout came strong once again as one of the premiere lacrosse tournaments in the world. There were several compelling storylines, including one Men’s Elite coach finally reaching the top, Merrill Lynch’s pink jersey salute to cancer research, the Outlaws women’s team tearing a swath through their competition and two dynasties in the making in the Boys’ U19 and Men’s Masters Divisions.
It had been a long time coming for Go Fast coach Jon Barocas, who has been bringing teams to the Vail Lacrosse Shootout off and on for over 15 years without winning a Men’s Elite Champsionship. With 2nd place finishes in 2005 and 2006 and a semifinal appearance in 2004, Barocas’ teams had a history of coming up just short – or running into buzz-saws at the wrong time. In 2005, Go Fast lost to a GMH team that nearly all become professionals the following year and in 2006, they ran up against Mammoth/Team Canada, a squad that used the Vail Shootout as a tune-up on their way to a World Games title. It seemed as though Barocas would forever be the bridesmaid and never the bride as the years ticked away. But in 2007, that all changed with a 7-6 win over LaxGrip in the finals that gave Barocas his first championship – one that he took in with a mixture of joy and relief.
“Winning any championship is always special,” said Barocas, who complimented his team’s attitude and togetherness on their way to the victory. Some called the 7-6 slugfest between Barocas’ band of Division I All-Stars and LaxGrip’s Canadian-influenced squad one of the best Elite Championships in recent memory. Despite the fact that scores were up for most teams during the tournament, neither Go Fast nor LaxGrip gave up more than 10 goals in any game throughout the Shootout – quite a feat when you consider the 30 second shot clock and the fact that defensive scheming is not usually on the to-do list when putting together a summer team.
Both teams in the Elite Championship featured solid defenses and goaltenders including tournament MVP Doc Schneider of Go Fast, who made 17 saves in the semifinals and LaxGrip netminder Chris Sanderson, who was named to the All-Tournament team for his performance. It was quite a departure from the run-and-gun offensive style of play seen throughout the rest of the Shootout.
A highlight and defining moment of the tournament was when Rocco Romero, who’s day job entails running midfielder for Cornell during the NCAA season but moonlights for Go Fast in Vail, netted the game-winner against his Big Red-based teammates and Team 21 in the semifinals with just 13 seconds left in the game. Despite the tough loss, Team 21 is one of the great stories of the Vail Shootout, competing in the name of fallen brother Mario St. George Boiardi, who lost his life playing the game we love in 2004. Team 21 has been one of the most competitive teams at the tournament since they arrived in 2005 and continue to be an inspiration of solidarity for all. With three straight semifinal appearances, perhaps they will get over the hump and win it all in 2008.
The men’s and women’s Merrill Lynch teams are another feel-good story. Both wear pink in honor of breast cancer research and have raised a significant amount of money towards that venture. Not only are they fighting for a good cause off the field, but both teams more than hold their own on it as well. Stacked with mostly young players from some of the best NCAA programs in the country, the Merrill Lynch squads look poised for long runs in Vail as they attempt to garner glory at 8,000 feet.
Youth was definitely served on many teams in the Men’s Elite division in 2007. In addition to Merrill Lynch, teams like the Mermen, Young Guns and Brine Elite all feature players who are barely allowed to drink legally in Vail Village, but still find a way to play high-level lacrosse for four straight days. Since Major League Lacrosse has “stolen” much of the top post-collegiate talent that used to grace the fields, teams have been combing the collegiate ranks for players and the result is generally an exciting, athletic and fun brand of lacrosse that is creating a great deal of parity and competitiveness up and down the Elite field. Look for that trend to continue as teams keep finding keeper-fish in the deep reservoir of collegiate lacrosse.
While parity and youth may have been the stories on the men’s side of things, the Women’s Elite tournament of 2007 was a tale of complete domination. Outscoring their opponents 97-24 in 6 games, the Outlaws women’s squad fielded one of the best teams to ever play in Vail. Their closest competition came in the semifinals where Greene Turtle played them to a 14-9 game, but other than that, the Outlaws were simply beautiful to watch as they played the game with a skill and tenacity that rivaled any men’s team in the draw. Superstar Jen Adams was named the tourney MVP for a team that at times seemed to toy with the competition, but always within the guidelines of fair play and sportsmanship. This was a case of simply being that much better than everyone else. Unfortunately for those wishing for a shot at the champs, the Outlaws are “one and done” and will not be returning in 2008.
The Boys’ U19 division had a bit of a down year talent-wise overall in 2007, but one bright spot was the play of Team Idaho. Seven years after their inaugural appearance in Vail, Idaho got into the Division I bracket for the first time. The crowd and staff favorites became a hit – or an annoyance, depending on who you talk to – with their exuberant cheering and boisterous attitudes and it’s great to see lacrosse spreading in the Gem State.
At the head of the Boys’ U19 class, the Baltimore Crabs nabbed their second straight Dr. Tom Watts Memorial tournament championship with a comfortable victory in the finals against an Arizona team that also featured many players from Western Reserve Academy in Ohio. The Crabs had a tough go of it in the semifinals against perennial powerhouse Team Ohio, but they managed through it and became the first team this decade to repeat as champs.
2008 marks the fifth year of competition for the Crabs, an elite group of players from Maryland’s uber-competitive MIAA conference. Most of the players go on to play serious Division I ball and several have found their way on to rosters in the MLL after their college days are over. If the Crabs can win again in 2008, people may begin talking about them in the same breath as some of the all-time greats in Vail Lacrosse lore.
Speaking of dynasties, one team quietly making a name for themselves as one of the most dominant in tournament history is Team Rusty Red in the Masters’ Division. With five championships in a row – none of them in serious doubt – Rusty Red has run over its competition, compiling an impressive 15-0 record during that stretch. No matter what the division or skill level, winning five in a row of anything is pretty good and these former Cornell boys (plus ringers) are looking to make it six this year in one of the most entertaining divisions in the tournament.
The slightly older, but no less energetic, group of Supermasters had a Cinderella winner in 2007 as CVLC/Tsunami took home the title. With traditional teams like the Navy Old Goats, Magic Wands, Elder Statesmen, Middlebury, Tombstone and the Air Force Gray Beards to name a few, these guys have more lacrosse experience than many of us will ever hope to. The play in the Supermasters Division is nearly always good and the games are close, lending itself to more upsets than some of the other divisions. CVLC/Tsunami’s run was punctuated when they defeated Gary Gait’s Tri-City Canadians in the finals.
So, with the Shootout coming to a close just 354 short days ago, now it’s time to lace ‘em up and face it off again. Will we see a repeat performance from Barocas’ Go Fast (now known as Reebok) team? Will another women’s team make the leap into the Outlaws’ rarified air? Can the Baltimore Crabs make it three in a row? Does anybody have what it takes to unseat Rusty Red? Is the Supermasters field primed for another upset winner? These questions and many others will of course be answered on the field in 2008, but they pale in comparison to the tall tales told over a cold one in the waning hours of a crisp, summer evening in the Vail Village. That’s where the real legends are made.
Check out the 2007 Vail Media Coverage
Send links to any further coverage you've come across here.
2007 Highlight Show (You gotta see this)
Mens Elite Championship
Mens Elite Semis
Womens Semis & Champs
High School Championship
Day 2 Elite Highlights B
Day 2 Elite Highlights A
Day 1 Elite Highlights
On the www.e-lacrosse.com
homepage scroll down the video list to the left for links to all the
awesome coverage. It's also availabe on the 2007
|In addition to photographs and an article plum has a
nice video about the tournament.
it on Plum Now.
View the Select Photos
for Each Day
by Staff Photographer Dave Gottenborg
|2007 Vail Lacrosse
Elite: July 1, 2, 3 & 4 - schedule
Masters (33+): June 30, July
1 & 2 - schedule
Supermasters (40+): June
27, 28, 29 & 30 - schedule
Grandmasters (50+): June
28, 29 & 30 - schedule
High School Boys (U-19):
June 27, 28, 29 & 30 - schedule
Women's Elite: July 1, 2, 3
& 4 - schedule
High School Girls
(U-19): June 27, 28, 29 & 30 - schedule
Chumash: June 30, July 1 (Registration
Forms Due June 22nd)
|A Rocky Mountain Tradition
|In its 35th year, the Vail Lacrosse
Shootout is flying high again in 2007. As the premiere club tournament
in the United States, Vail is home to some of the very best lacrosse
in the world. From June 27th - July 4th, Vail will play host to over
60 men's teams and 30 women's teams in what has become a pilgrimage
for any true lacrosse fan.
The Vail Shootout started in Aspen in 1973 and was founded by Flip
Naumburg and Jim Soran. After making its permanent move to Vail
in 1979, the tournament has enjoyed steady growth and become a fixture
on the lacrosse landscape. More than just a lacrosse tournament,
the Shootout is almost a spiritual gathering. It has become a place
for lacrosse "people" of all ages to come together and
celebrate their sport in a tribal manner, much in the same way their
Native American forefathers did.
With players competing in seven different divisions, the Vail Shootout
has enough lacrosse to satiate any fan's appetite. The Men's Elite
division is the headliner, taking place from July 1st - July 4th
and coinciding with the Women's Elite tournament. The Boy's and
Girl's U-19 tournaments kick off the tournament on June 27th, along
with the popular Men's Supermasters (ages 40 +). Men's Masters (33
+) takes the field on June 30th and Grandmasters (50 +) gets going
on June 28th.
Over the years, some of the world's best lacrosse players have
played in the Vail Shootout. Gary and Paul Gait (Syracuse), Jen
Adams (Maryland), Casey, Ryan and Mike Powell (Syracuse), Kyle Harrison
(Johns Hopkins) and Michele DeJuliis (Penn State), some of the most
recognized names in the sport, have all graced the Vail Valley at
some point in their lacrosse careers.
With a compact schedule that will allow for plenty of overlap between
age divisions, lacrosse fans will be able to catch their favorite
stars of young and old.
|What's New in Vail 2007?
Just because Vail is one of the longest running tournaments in
all of lacrosse does not mean that it has stopped being progressive.
Several new features have been added to the 2007 version to ensure
that it continues to be on the cutting edge.
First of note is the condensed schedule. After last year's tournament
sprawled over eleven days, 2007 has been cut significantly down
to eight. The effect of this will give fans of the tournament plenty
of options when looking for lacrosse in the Vail Valley. Men's Masters
sees the biggest change. Instead of its traditional place alongside
Men's Supermasters, the Masters tournament will take place from
June 30th - July 2nd.
The Grandmasters Division (ages 50 +) is back for a second consecutive
year, as is the youth Chumash tournament. Both features were new
last year and were extremely popular. Chumash is a form of lacrosse
created by Vail co-founder Flip Naumburg that allows for a "portable"
lacrosse game to break out wherever you might be. With no goalies
and a long, skinny goal that two teams of three players each attack,
it is similar to half-court basketball and is a great way to teach
younger players the game. The Chumash tournament is a friendly,
non-competitive event that will take place on June 30th and July
|Contacts for Interested Teams
|Men's & Boy's Divisions:
Connie Streich - email@example.com - (303) 814-2714
Women's Elite: Michelle Secor - firstname.lastname@example.org - (719)
HS Girl's: Michelle Secor - email@example.com - (719) 528-1090
Women's Officials: Jeff Secor - firstname.lastname@example.org - (719)
General Tournament Info: Connie Streich - email@example.com
- (303) 814-2714
|Travel & Lodging Reservations
|Moguls Mountain Travel is the
"official travel provider" for the Vail Shootout. The contact
at Moguls is Erik Tilley and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or by phone at 1-800-666-4857 extension 6176. Moguls has been helping
teams with their travel needs for the past 9 years and they are very
knowledgeable about the tournament. They can book bulk air discounts,
ground transportation and have great contacts with the hotels and
condos in the Vail Valley. They book Vail lodging all year 'round,
ski season as well as summer, so they are very knowledgeable about
what's available in that area. We encourage you to contact them to
book your trip to Vail this year!