This past weekend I brought my club team, SD Rip Elite, to the Adrenaline Challenge lacrosse tournament in San Diego. I had never been so I wasnt exactly sure what to expect, but I was thoroughly impressed with the level of competition and how smoothly the tournament went. The tournament is used as a recruiting tool, a sort of showcase for high school level players, both girls and boys, to show off for the college coaches.
Lauren Dachille and me!
We had our first game at 9am Saturday morning against a team from the Bay Area called BearLax. The game went really well, in fact we had to make the girls stall a bit so the score wouldnt get too out of hand. Its good and bad to start off a tournament with such a big win though; it can work in your favor and give you confidence or it can boost your ego too much making you lose your focus. Thankfully, it worked in our favor. The girls played really hard the entire game and won big in our next two games against the LaxDawg Royal and ATX too. Not only were they playing well individually, but their teamwork was what won the games.
SD Rip Elite
Sunday morning was our first true test as we went up against Element 5 Elite, who just so happens to be coached by two of my best friends out here Kristy Gallagher and Dana Cappello. We ended up losing 9-2, which really dropped the spirits of the girls. We played sloppy and were inconsistent. The game however, was a great learning tool. Its great to win games, but youll never learn anything unless your tested by some serious competition and tested we were. So we went over our weaknesses and were able to find some strength in what was a pretty ugly game. Once we evaluated our performance we were able to move on with the day, looking forward to better play.
Element 5 Elite Coaches Kristy Gallagher and Dana Cappello
The next two games went well as we beat QC Elite and then LaxDawgs Elite to advance to the finals. Naturally, Element 5 Elite was in the finals, the only team we had lost to the entire weekend. The girls had learned a lot by playing them the first time so we went in more prepared than we had the first time around. The first half turned out to be pretty tough; they were killing us on the fast break, scoring almost every time down the field. If we were able to slow them down and play settled defense we were fine, but we were only able to get them out of their rhythm on occasion. They held possession most of the time so we were given very few opportunities in our attacking end. The score was 8-2 at half and it was time to make some changes.
Element 5 Elite at Half
The first priority for the second half was to slow down their fast break, allowing us more time with the ball and to play defense. That being said, I decided to concede in the midfield. This is a strategy we used at Richmond in similar situations. Im pretty sure the girls had never seen or heard anything like this before, but I felt like it was are only chance so I quickly explained the tactic as best I could. Instead of our defenders marking up their girls, we would let them go no matter where we were on the field. We would allow them to catch the ball in the midfield while our defenders dropped back into our defensive end as quickly as possible. Our midfielders running in behind the primary defenders would be in charge of slowing the ball down in the midfield if possible while sprinting into the defense. This takes away any chance Element 5 would have with their fast break. We didnt have time to make any other changes so the attack had to be creative with the opportunities they had.
Coach Jen Cielewich Watching the Finals
The plan worked and we forced Element 5 to play settled ball with no fast break option. They only scored one goal in the second half. Unfortunately, we werent able to score enough to win, but we did win in the second half. The final score was 9-6. The girls were disappointed about losing, but I think they were excited about what they were able to achieve in the second half. It was a huge learning experience for the girls. They listened to what we taught them at halftime and were able to apply it against a really solid opponent.
Im excited about practice on Sunday and cant wait to fix some weak points in our game; that way we will be better prepared for our next tournament coming up in the last weekend of January. Im really enjoying coaching these girls. I am so proud of them for being so coachable and passionate about the game. It sounds cheesy, but its true. They truly are a great team.