June 11, 2011

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Northern Lights Treks to USL Central Region Final

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The team called the Northern Lights headed east and south from Colorado to Texas on Thursday, hopping in a pair of vans bound for this weekend’s US Lacrosse Lax Fest and U15 Central Regional championships. The 15-player group from the northern part of Denver, Colo. -- hence their Northern team name -- spent 15 hours on the road, arriving late at night.

Of course, about 45 minutes were added to the trip because some members of the seventh- and eighth-grade girls’ team wanted to stop to play lacrosse along the way. They did at rest areas in Kansas and Oklahoma.

“They wanted to play lacrosse in every state we went,” said Northern Lights coach Brian Wallace.

They ended up in Texas, a place this weekend that has presented them unusual heat and humidity for a team from Colorado. On Saturday afternoon, as the top-seeded Northern Lights relaxed under a tent and watched a semifinal at Patterson Sports Complex between second-seeded Narwhals Lacrosse and the third-seeded Texas Outlaws, Elisabeth Wallace, Brian’s daughter said: “It’s hot,” of the temperatures in the high 90s.

Then teammate Olivia Hayden astutely noted “but it’s easier to breathe,” referencing the lower altitude here than in Denver.

The Northern Lights have figured out how to work through whatever challenges they’ve faced so far, going 2-0 in games against U15 regional competition. They will play in the U15 Central Regional girls championship at 8 a.m. Sunday and face Narwhals, which beat the Texas Outlaws, 12-11, in the semifinals.

All three teams have qualified for the 2011 US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, presented by Champion, in late July. And each were also one of nearly 50 youth teams to converge on Arlington for the three-day event, which includes the boys’ and girls’ regional championships and the non-competitive Lax Fest, which features five divisions (U11, U13, and U15 boys and U15 and U13 girls).

“We’ve had fun,” Brian Wallace said. “This first real time we’ve traveled, and the first time we’ve been able to bond as a team.”

The team is a non-profit team coached by Wallace, who also coaches many of the same girls for the Rocky Mountain Storm, the equivalent of a middle school team in club form. He said the US Lacrosse Lax Fest and U15 regional championships provided a great opportunity for the team to play new competition outside of their local area.

“There’s not whole lot of lacrosse in the states around Colorado, like Kansas or Nebraska,” Wallace said.

That is, unless the Northern Lights decide to start playing there on the way back -- right after Sunday morning’s championship game.

U15 Boys Central Region Championship Also Set

The boys U15 Central Regional champion will also be decided Sunday. C2C Black (Texas) will play Houlaguns (Texas) at 11:30 a.m. C2C Black beat NorCal Blue in the semifinals, 13-5, and Houlaguns bested C2C White, 14-3, in the other semifinal.

All four teams, by virtue of reaching the semifinals and finishing among the top four, have qualified for the boys U15 National Championship July 22-24, held as part of the ESPN RISE GAMES at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

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