LXM|ATS: LA, Sand Storm fill up January weekend with lacrosse

Goon Lacrosse vs. Factory

Editor’s note: Technical difficulties delayed the posting of this wrap-up. Apologies.

For the last few years, the third weekend in January has meant, for me, a trip to Palm Desert for the ever-expanding Sand Storm Lacrosse Festival. This year, though, Adrenaline debuted LXM|ATS: Los Angeles, providing a more local option to see some good winter lacrosse. So I took the easy way out and headed to Thousand Oaks on Saturday.

At the Southland Lax Facebook page, you can find photos from some of Saturday’s high school and elite division games, and below, leveraging the power of the web and social media, is a wrap-up of both tournaments:

LXM|ATS: Los Angeles

This inaugural two-day event drew 37 teams from 13 local clubs to Conejo Creek South park in Thousand Oaks and crowned champions in eight brackets in age groups from U11 to High School Elite.

Wild Horse Elite
Wild Horse of Orange County won the ADRLN Elite Division, going undefeated. (photo courtesy ADRLN.com).

LaxDawgs out of San Diego claimed two division titles, including the STX Elite bracket against Alpha Lacrosse (formerly NC Mavericks) out of the Carlsbad/La Costa area, Goon Lacrosse out of the Conejo Valley (and coached by Mario Waibel) and Factory Lacrosse out of Palos Verdes.

All but one of the 13 clubs in attendance are part of the Adrenaline/Starz network, with the lone exception being Wild Horse Lacrosse out of Orange County, which won the Adrln Elite division with a perfect record on the weekend. Wild Horse is run by Beckman HS coach Brian Finnerty and Capistrano Valley HS coach Joel Schmit-Kallas.

Here are the division winners from the tournament, courtesy the Adrenaline site’s wrap-up:

Adrln Elite division: Wild Horse Varsity
STX Elite division: LaxDawgs Elite Brown
Champion High School division: OC Kings 2017
SKLZ U15 division: LaxDawgs MS Brown
Gatorade U15 division: Saddleback U15
Knockaround U13 division: Alpha MS White
Cascade U13 division: 395 Starz U13
Maverik U11 division: Santa Monica Dragons 4th

Sand Storm Lacrosse Festival

This even just keeps getting bigger, this year boasting 250 teams (boys and girls) on 40 fields spread across the Empire Polo Club in Indio. With many teams and games, it’s almost impossible to provide a full recap. Fortunately, the tournament organizers have posted complete scores, schedules and brackets, so fans who are so inclined can poke around and check up on the teams they follow: Boys | Girls.

Perhaps the most interesting result — and one that bears watching throughout the spring — was the outcome of the boys’ elite division, where Kings Lax Gold out of Corona del Mar knocked off DH Lax out of JSerra 6-5 in the final. MaxLaxOC has a full recap here, but the short version is that DH took a 1-0 lead, but Kings Gold ran off four in a row and didn’t trail again. It was 6-4 Kings before a final DH goal with 15 seconds left.

Both teams are loaded with talent, including a number of players bound for NCAA Division I programs over the next few years. In last spring’s US Lacrosse Southern Section playoffs, Corona del Mar beat JSerra 8-5 in the OC semifinals before falling to eventual champion St. Margaret’s 12-7 in the OC final.

DH Lax went 5-0 in its bracket, outscoring opponents 68-9 before a 6-5 semifinal win and the title-game loss to Kings Lax. Kings Gold also went undefeated, though it had two ties in pool play and advanced to the playoffs by virtue of a tie-breaker over 3d SoCal 14/15.

For an idea of how big this event has become, the third elite pool was won by an undefeated No-Excuse Elite squad out of Tennessee, which outscored its five pool opponents 41-14 before falling to DH Lax 6-5 in overtime in a semifinal game. That pool included Valhalla Lacrosse out of the Portland, Ore./Vancouver, Wa. area; the Sacramento Aces Elite, a program run by for Virginia star and current LXM Pro John Christmas; Tribe 831 out of Monterey, Calif.; and Suns Out Guns Out and Silverfin, both from the Conejo Valley.

Other Southland-area clubs in the boys’ elite division included: OC Crush (Foothill HS), Liv Lax (Crespi HS), Beach Head (Peninsula HS) and Navigators (Newport Beach) and Donny Lax (Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego), along with all-star type programs 3d SoCal, FCA Orange and Brady’s Bunch.