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North American Lacrosse Invite to feature Brother Rice, Cranbrook WITH PHOTO GALLERY

Lacrosse has always been a strong sport for Oakland County, but this weekend brings another level of talent to the area.

The fourth annual North American Lacrosse Invitational will be held on Saturday and Sunday from the Birmingham Brother Rice facilities, featuring a total of 12 varsity teams from around the Midwest, along with four junior varsity squads.

The event is put on by North American Lacrosse Events, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in Birmingham. The group’s mission is to promote leadership, excellence and sportsmanship throughout the two-day competition.

“The event was created because we wanted to provide an opportunity for college coaches to come to one location to see some of the top talent in the Midwest in an effort to help recruiting. We expect to have close to 40 colleges represented at our event,” said Hugh Mahler, the Director of North American Lacrosse Events.

“It was really created so the kids could get some recognition for their play. We have had success over the years of helping place kids at the Division I, II and III level through this event.”

Along with Birmingham Brother Rice, Michigan will be represented in the event by Cranbrook Kingswood and Forest Hills Central out of Grand Rapids.

“It’s a great opportunity for Brother Rice to host some of the best teams in North America,” Brother Rice coach Ajay Chawla said. “The talent that is coming in is great and being able to have 40 to 50 college coaches come in and watch these kids display their talent is a great thing for all involved.”

Other varsity teams include Upper Arlington (Ohio), Dublin Jerome (Ohio), Worthington-Kilbourne (Ohio), Archbishop Moeller (Ohio), Loyola Academy (Illinois), New Trier (Illinois), Culver Academy (Indiana), Bishop Timon (New York) and Hill Academy (Canada).

“Brother Rice’s facilities, having two fields side-by-side, it makes it ideal for the event and for coaches to be able to see all the talent that will be playing. We invite the community to come out and see some of the best lacrosse they will see in quite some time,” Mahler said.

The two-day event features each team playing in two games. Action will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday with the four junior varsity programs competing. Varsity play begins and noon and continues throughout the day, with the final game beginning at a scheduled time of 4:30 p.m.

Each team is placed in a four-team bracket and the winners will meet on Sunday while the losing teams will also meet.

One bracket features Brother Rice meeting Hill Academy, the third ranked team in the country. These two met on April 25 with Hill picking up a 14-10 win over the Warriors.

“They are perennially a great program,” Chawla said of Hill Academy. “They present an enormous opportunity for us, being third nationally. We played them fairly tough in the first game. We spotted them seven goals to start and battled back to within two in the fourth. Our kids believe that we can win this game and so do I. It is an enormous game for our kids and our team.”

On the opposing side of the bracket, Bishop Timon faces Culver Academy, the second-ranked team in the nation. This presents the possibility of a meeting on Sunday between the second and third ranked teams nationally.

“That potential matchup could have national championship impact,” Mahler said. “We are very excited to be the venue for that to happen.”

Brother Rice knows about national championships, having won a title in 2008. The Warriors have been the predominant program in the state of Michigan, winning all nine MHSAA Division 1 state championships.

“They continue to have a strong program,” Mahler said of Brother Rice. “They will continue to be a strong example of the lacrosse in the area. You have other programs like Cranbrook, Detroit Country Day, Clarkston and Detroit Catholic Central that are stepping up as well, but Rice has a long history of success that certainly stands out.”

Chawla knows the importance of this weekend and what it will do for his team as it enters the MHSAA playoffs next week, but he is excited at the chance to have a high caliber of lacrosse put on display for the weekend.

“The community as a whole should really embrace this tournament even if your team isn’t competing. It is really great lacrosse,” Chawla said. “It is a good opportunity for the youth programs around the area to see the highest level of high school lacrosse there is and really see how the game should be played.”

Those looking to attend can purchase a two-day admission pass for $10, or single-day admission for $6. Kids 10 and under are admitted for free. For more information on the event or North American Lacrosse, visit www.nalax.org.

North American Lacrosse Invitational

Saturday’s Schedule

Silver Division

Brother Rice JV vs. Hill Academy JV, 10 a.m. (Ambrose Field)

Upper Arlington JV vs. Dublin Jerome JV, 10 a.m. (Fracassa Field)

Blue Division

Upper Arlington vs. Loyola Academy, noon (Ambrose Field)

Dublin Jerome vs. Worthington-Kilbourne, 12:30 p.m. (Fracassa Field)

Red Division

Culver Academy vs. Bishop Timon, 2 p.m. (Ambrose Field)

Hill Academy vs. Birmingham Brother Rice, 4 p.m. (Ambrose Field)

White Division

Cranbrook Kingswood vs. Archbishop Moeller, 2:30 p.m. (Fracassa Field)

Forest Hills Central vs. New Trier, 4:30 p.m. (Fracassa Field)

Sunday’s Schedule

Championship Games (All on Ambrose Field)

Silver Division, 7 a.m.

Blue Division, 8:45 a.m.

Red Division, 10:30 a.m.

White Division, Noon

Consolation Series (All on Fracassa Field)

Silver Division, 7 a.m.

Blue Division, 8:45 a.m.

Red Division, 10:30 a.m.

White Division, Noon

Last Updated: 5/16/2014 2:37:28 PM EST


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