Last weekend, someone forgot to tell the Cavalier Invitational tournament it’s “In like a lion, out like a lamb”, not the other way around. This early season lacrosse lovefest started on Saturday with mild temperatures and a cute little drizzle. By the time the semifinals rolled around on Sunday, players were dealing with hail flying sideways. Almost 2” of rain baptized the players, and made everyone forget what a wonderfully dry and mild winter we’ve been blessed with up until now.
But this is lacrosse, not baseball, the games will be played and no whinging will be tolerated. If I had a dollar for every time I overheard a coach giving the “It’s wet and cold for the other team as well” speech, I wouldn’t be writing this, trying to get you to buy pictures. I’d be inside, dry, and warm and watching a Spring Training baseball game on TV.
If you’re going to play in a March tournament, you need to expect some weather issues. This is the 10th year of the Cavalier Invitational, hosted each year by the North County Lacrosse Club, and it’s not the first one to have a little moisture involved. For years teams have made the trek to Bellingham, hoping to get in some last minute, pre-season work against live enemies. “Originally, we only invited Division II teams and JV teams,” said tournament director, Brooke Hartley. “But now, we allow all teams.” The tournament’s popularity has grown recently, to where they had a waiting list this year.
Twelve teams for two days of lacrosse meant the field at Whatcom Community College was busy from dawn till night. This is my fourth trip to the tournament, and this year I witnessed by far the highest quality of play ever. After a day and half of round robin play, six teams advanced to the Championship Round: Stanwood, North County, Mount Si, Monroe, Wenatchee and Everett. Mount Si, Stanwood and Everett are looking to make their mark in Division I, and the other three play in Division II.
These teams were very close in skill level and preparedness for this time of year, as three of the five Championship Round games were decided by two goals or less. By the 7pm finals, however, you could tell that the weather and playing five games in two days, were taking its toll. I can’t imagine the youthful exuberance required to strap it up for those last couple of games, as I was incapable of even standing on the sidelines out in the weather.
Ultimately, Everett beat Wenatchee in the finals, by a score of 4-2, in front of a crowd grateful there was no overtime. Of course you’d have to consider all the teams winners, as they got an big dose of stiff competition which will help get them into midseason form ahead of their competition. In fact, as the season started this past week, those top six finishers went a combined 7-1 against opponents playing their first game of the season. And the Camas Papermakers, who didn’t make the Championship Round in Bellingham, knocked off 2nd place finisher Wenatchee last night, 12-9. So clearly, playing in the Cavalier Invitational can give teams an early jump on their season.
It’s hard to single out individuals this early, I’m not entirely convinced the jersey numbers were accurate and in sync with Sportability. So I’ll limit the praise and just keep my eyes on them the rest of the season. However, there were a few players that caught my eye:
- Justin Beretta, attackman, Everett
- Loren Hartzell, goalie, Monroe
- Cory Leenders, midfielder, Wenatchee
- Benjamin Lomas, freshman attack, Mount Si
- Gavin Mumford, defender, Lynden (North County)
- Kane Ayling, Midfielder, Stanwood
So get your application in for next year’s Invitational, the field will be tight and the teams that participate are sure to have a leg up once again.
You can find pictures of selected games from this year’s Cavalier Invitational here:
As always, the photos are available for purchase as prints or downloads, with 100% of the proceeds donated to a NW lacrosse charity.
You can find the results of this year’s tournament here.