Wisconsin Out in Force at US Lacrosse Central Championships
Wisconsin Cool Stick and Wildcat (Ill.) Elite are two of
12 U15 girls' teams vying for a Central Regional title and four
spots in next month's US Lacrosse U15 National Championship,
powered by Lacrosse Unlimited.
Teams from eight states made the trip to Madison, Wis., for this weekend’s US Lacrosse Central Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited. After one day of competition, it’s clear that The Badger State is out to make its mark.
An event-high 10 teams from Wisconsin (Illinois also boasts 10) are participating in the tournament at Reddan Soccer Park, with squads from Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Texas rounding out the 42-team field.
Karl Wahlgren, coach of the Shear Force U15 boys, a second-year club team based out of Cross Plains and Middleton, Wis., is one of many local coaches eager to put Wisconsin on the map as the state’s club environment continues to grow. But first, his goal for the team’s initial tournament of the summer is, simply put, to become a team.
“Once we get that team atmosphere totally secure, I’ll be real happy,” Wahlgren said.
Shear Force took a positive step Friday as Karl’s son, Lane, an eighth-grader who plays his league ball for Middleton Lacrosse Club -- just 15 minutes down the road -- posted a game-high three goals in the team’s 8-5 win over the Minnesota Lakers in both teams’ opening game of pool play.
Wisconsin Cool Stick, a U15 girls’ team based in Hartland, Wis., came up short in its opening pool play game, falling to Wildcat (Ill.) Elite 12-3, but coach Tom Truttschel and the players see the importance in scheduling strong regional competition. They'll look to gain momentum Saturday morning.
“In order to get better, you have to play better teams,” Truttschel said. “Wisconsin, compared to many states, is still catching up...But there’s a lot of growth going on, with new teams all over the state.”
Dave Wollin, president of the Wisconsin Lacrosse Federation, the state’s official chapter of US Lacrosse, played a key role in bringing the event to Wisconsin’s capital (Texas hosted the Central Championships in 2011 and 2012). The Federation boasts more than 4,500 lacrosse players in US Lacrosse’s youth and high school categories, good for 24th among 64 US Lacrosse chapters.
“We are still small and growing,” Wollin said. “It doesn’t matter which community you’re from...we all want to do it the right way.”
The growth is undeniable. Wollin noted that Wisconsin has experienced double-digit growth in the number of players over each of the past seven years, some years exceeding 20 percent.
Shear Lacrosse is one of seven U15 boys’ teams competing for four invites to next month’s US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, July 26-28 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. In the girls’ bracket, 12 teams, including Wisconsin Cool Stick, are vying for four spots.
While no teams from Wisconsin were able to qualify for the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship in 2012, all are optimistic that The Badger State will be represented in Florida this year.
“We just want to represent Wisconsin,” Truttschel said. “We get on the field in these tournaments during the summer, and they learn real quick that Wisconsin has lacrosse.”
Pool play action resumes at 8 a.m. Saturday, with bracket play
scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Semifinal and final rounds will be
contested Sunday morning, with championship games in all five
divisions scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
For full scores and standings from the US Lacrosse Central Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, visit USLacrosse.org.