On Saturday I drove down to Del Mar for LXM|ATS San Diego, and what an event it was! There is nothing quite like being surrounded by lacrosse everywhere you look, and it definitely had me itching to ditch my camera for a stick and get out on the field to play. It seems just like yesterday I was playing there in an Adrenaline tournament … but enough reminiscing. On to the recap!
The Del Mar Polo Grounds is a great location for any sporting event. It’s tough to beat as far as field space, with 15 full fields plus a vendor village and of course the horse stables next to the parking lot (it is the POLO grounds after all!).
Speaking of parking, this was my first trip to the Polo Grounds in more than two years, and the last time I was there the parking situation was horrible. We were required to park in a lot away from the fields and were shuttled by bus to the actual tournament location. This year, being able to park in walking distance of the fields was a huge upgrade. I’m sure parents and players agree.
Those first few steps from the parking lot to the fields had me even more excited. I arrived about 15 minutes into the first games of the day, and the closest field had teams from the Grom Division (3rd-4th grade). One field over, two high school teams were battling it out, and in between, middle school guys were warming up. Turn to the left and there’s the vendor village with tents from STX, Maverik, Knockaround, and all the LXM and Adrenaline sponsors, plus various places to grab a bite to eat. Tons of Adrenaline gear was also on display, with jerseys, helmets, and gloves from Adrenaline Black Card, Adrenaline Showcase, West Coast Starz and the Adrenaline Tropics. Next to the vendor village was the ADRLN Feel-it-Factory, where kids could play games to win prizes from SKLZ.
ATS – Adrenaline Tournament Series
The ATS event featured 68 teams in nine divisions, with two divisions each in Elite, High School, Middle School and Youth (5th-6th grade), plus one Grom division. Every team was an Adrenaline Starz team or affiliate, and squads from San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, NorCal, Arizona and Las Vegas competed. After multiple games Friday and Saturday, teams were ranked and paired for the playoffs on Sunday. The LA Lazers had the best performance from an overall program perspective, capturing five division championships. RC Starz also had a strong overall performance, with three division titles.
Here are all the winning teams with their respective divisions:
LA Lazers Black Elite (Knockaround Elite division)
RC Silver Elite (ADRLN Elite)
LA Lazers Black HS (STX High School)
SALA HS (SKLZ High School)
LA Lazers Black MS (South Swell Middle School)
LA Lazers Pink MS (Maverik Middle School)
LA Lazers Black Youth (Inside Lacrosse Youth)
RC Youth (Cascade Youth)
RC Groms (Gatorade Groms)
Players also had a chance to participate in various LXM clinics, including a shooting clinic with Kyle Harrison, Sam Bradman, and Peter Baum, where I was able to briefly talk them and watch them teach the young players. K18 gave his famous triple-threat shooting talk; Bradman showed off his unique and effective shooting style; and Baum focused on shooting on the run. I probably picked the best clinic to be at, but I’m sure the other player clinics, as well as the Notre Dame Coaching Clinics, were great as well. Look out for video coverage from the shooting clinic in the next few days!
LXM Pro, Game Two
I’m just going to get this out of the way first thing: Billy Bitter wasn’t there. I knew something was up when he wasn’t listed as an LXM player coaching the “Inside Finishing” clinic, and after the game Maverik United’s Hamilton Pollard told me that Bitter was at the Pro-Am Mountain Jam, which is understandable considering his family’s company was putting on the tournament. His absence was definitely felt, though, as MavU was without its rookie speedster on attack. Johnny Christmas and Erik Krum anchored the attack without Bitter, and a few other players rotated in as the third attackman.
If you missed the game, you definitely want to watch the replay on The Lacrosse Network, as there were some amazing goals in this one. The first two quarters were full of “anything you can do I can do better” action, with each team matching the other blow for blow. After one quarter Team STX led 5-4, and by half Maverik United had tied the game at 8-8. Team STX amped up its offense in the third quarter, though, opening the second half with a 6-0 run and capping it off with two more goals while MavU scored only two in the entire third quarter. Entering the final frame up 16-8, Team STX refused to put on the breaks, finishing with 21 goals to Maverik United’s 16.
For Team STX, Sam Bradman, Shamel Bratton and Max Ritz each scored four goals. Peter Paum added two goals and a few assists, and Tim Desko had three goals, including a spectacular between the legs shot. K18 was effective in that he drew a lot of attention, but he only put the ball in the back of the net once. Maverik United was led offensively by Christmas’s veteran play, as he had three assists and a couple goals. Erik Krum also netted four goals for MavU. Plenty of other players got in on the scoring action, including Team STX’s newest member via trade, JR Oreskovich.
Team STX might have had better shooting success due to a goalie advantage. Although both keepers are extremely talented, Team STX goalie Matt Russell is a veteran to LXM while Maverik United goalie Mike Gvozden was thrown into his first LXM game after usual MavU goalie Johnny Rodriguez was injured the week before. After the game, Gvozden, who played collegiately at Johns Hopkins, said this was “the highest intensity” game he had ever played in, and that he hopes to continue playing on the LXM Pro tour to keep competing with and against some of the most talented players in lacrosse.
Overall, the game was incredibly intense, with both teams chirping at the refs and each other throughout. While some may have complaints about the LXM, there is no denying the talent that LXM brings to the field nor the intense desire of the players to play their best and win. The LXM has come a long way since its first LXM949 event in Santa Monica a few years ago. As they travel to stops throughout the United States with the ATS partnership, LXM is not simply a glorified pick-up game, as some have called it, but rather a professional showcase looking to grow the game around the country.
For the Kids
LXM and Adrenaline put on a great event in San Diego, and the best part was that in the end it was all for the kids. If I was getting excited by all the lacrosse happening in one place, I’m sure the kids were too. Interacting with their favorite pro players at clinics and autograph sessions, sitting right next to the LXM player sideline in the VIP area, participating in the LXM game as ball boys and halftime entertainment — these were just some of the amazing opportunities these young players had this weekend, not to mention checking out some of the newest gear from Maverik and STX and playing multiple games of their own. Adrenaline and LXM can have their quirks sometimes, but few Grow the Game better than they do.
For more photos from LXM|ATS San Diego, check out our full album on Facebook.