Louisiana Jazzes Up Rainy US Lacrosse Southeast Championships
|Austin Danielson scored four
goals in the second half to give the Louisiana Jazz U15 team a
chance in an eventual 9-8 loss to Geronimo White (Va.) during
opening day of the US Lacrosse Boys' Southeast Championships,
powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, in Raleigh, N.C.
RALEIGH, N.C. – The team that made the furthest trip to the US Lacrosse Boys' Southeast Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, brought with it some familiar weather, but it also proved it belonged competing alongside some of the better teams in the region.
The Louisiana Jazz, a fourth-year program from Mandeville, La., just north of New Orleans, endured an hour delay – as did all 30 teams at the WRAL Soccer Center – due to Tropical Storm Andrea, but the Jazz acquitted itself quite well in a 9-8 loss to Geronimo White (Va.) in a U15 pool-play game during opening day of this third annual regional championship. The event features a healthy supply of in-state teams, but squads from five states made the journey to compete at the U11, U13 and U15 levels.
"Lacrosse has become my life since I picked up a stick a couple years ago and started fooling with it in my backyard," said Louisiana attackman Austin Danielson. "I dropped my baseball bat and haven't picked it up since my older brother first started showing me about lacrosse."
Danielson has proven to be a quick study. He scored four consecutive goals in the second half to rally his team from a 7-4 deficit to an 8-7 lead before the Jazz yielded two late goals to the Virginians. Danielson and attack mate Chance Williamson executed a brilliant give-and-go down the left alley to start the rally. Williamson, who scored twice in the first half, has played for seven years and moved to Louisiana from Northern Virginia after completing the sixth grade. He's had no problem fitting into his new home.
"This is our first tournament together," Williamson said. "It's great competition. We're trying to grow lacrosse in the South. This is a great experience. We're working."
And representing. Jazz uniforms feature an outline of the state.
"I love this game. I didn't grow up with it, but I wish I had," said Jazz head coach Jeff Blackman, who's been coaching lacrosse for two years after switching over from basketball. "We traveled a long way. We had to knock the cobwebs out and get 'em going. We played better in the second half."
The Jazz slipped to 0-1 but will still have the opportunity to secure one of four automatic invitations to the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, July 26-28 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. All 14 teams in the U15 division here will compete in a single-elimination bracket beginning tomorrow afternoon following pool play in the morning. The semifinals and final are scheduled for Sunday morning.
For a while, it appeared Andrea would have her way, however. Off-and-on rain through the early afternoon eventually surrendered to a deluge in one of the tropical system's main precipitation bands. But the four lighted turf fields at the WRAL Soccer Center drained remarkably fast once the rain eased, and schedules need only a one-hour delay.
Action resumes at 8 a.m. Saturday.