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Lax pilgrimage to Lake Placid

August 1, 2018
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The 28th annual Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament is in full swing.

The event started Monday with the scholastic divisions and runs through Sunday, when some of the world's best lacrosse athletes, including current and former NCAA Division I stars, will battle for titles in a slew of divisions.

On Tuesday afternoon at the North Elba athletic fields, boys and girls teams were battling in intense matches in the hopes of advancing to play for coveted tournament championships on Wednesday. In the top scholastic boys division, the brand new 2019-20 Summit, Sweetlax got past Team Rhino 7-5 to remain unbeaten with a 4-0 record and advance to Wednesday's title tilt with perennial power FCA.

Article Photos

Maryland high schooler Charlie Koras of the FCA 2021 Elite Team puts on the brakes while controlling the ball during Tuesday's match against Orange Crush.

News photo — Lou Reuter

Sweelax player BJ Burlace, who will be a high school senior in Annapolis, Maryland and will attend Yale after graduating, was making his third appearance in the Lake Placid Summit tournament.

"I've been up here the last two years, and I love it. The whole atmosphere is just awesome - the mountains, the view, just playing lacrosse and having fun," Burlace said. "We have a whole lot of team chemistry. We're all really close together even though we're from all over the country. We're just grinding together, and hopefully we can come away with a championship."

FCA, which stands for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, has been a staple at the Summit tournament, and entered five squads this year in the boys and girls scholastic divisions. Not only do FCA's players, who are among the most talented in the nation, come to compete against the best, they also make the trip to the Adirondacks for the experiences off the field.

On Tuesday, FCA's 2021 Elite team notched a 9-6 win over Orange Crush to punch its ticket to Wednesday's 15U Gold Division championship match, which was also against a Sweetlax squad. When FCA coach Matt Emerson was asked why FCA annually visits Lake Placid for the tournament, he simply responded, "Why wouldn't we come up here?"

Emerson explained that for FCA's young players, what happens off the field goes hand-in-hand with the competitive part of their adventure. Emerson said the only time the 2021 team will gather together this year is in Lake Placid, but added the organization annually sends squads to other large lacrosse tournaments including Vail, Colorado and Florida.

"The last few years, we've had a tradition of just ending our summer at this event," Emerson said. "The Lake Placid tournament, obviously, it's a beautiful venue, it's a chance for us as FCA lacrosse to connect with players from all over the country, and to play some great competition as well. For us, in particular, being a Christian organization, we love using venues like Lake Placid or Vail to be in God's creation and to use this experience as players to get a retreat to get away from the typical lacrosse experience that they have, especially at this age group.

"There's a ton of kids getting recruited, there's showcase events, there are a lot of things that kind of put them in the pressure cooker," Emerson continued. "They play a lot of high caliber lacrosse, so for us to present the opportunity for them to take the end of their summer to relax, enjoy lacrosse and then to get a little vacation out of this, it's a win, win, win."

In addition to competing, Emerson said the team has enjoyed activities such as a trip up the 120-meter ski jump, cliff jumping and dinners together at Mr. Mike's Pizza in Lake Placid and Tail 'O The Pup in Ray Brook.

While the vast majority of the thousands of lacrosse players who compete in the Lake Placid Summit travel here from across the nation, there are some area residents who take part in the event. This group ranges in age from teens to the tournament's most veteran division - the over 60s.

Ward Walton, who just graduated from Saranac Lake High School and has been named Section X's first-team lacrosse goalie the past two years, is one local player who enjoyed the opportunity to square off against the Summit's elite competition. Although Walton and his Tri-Lakes teammates went winless in the U18 Silver division, he said the Summit is always enjoyable.

"It's awesome having all this high-level lacrosse here," Walton said. "It's really cool to see. Growing up playing lacrosse, it's cool to have a tournament where you can see the best players around. It's always been fun to come out and watch. My dad's always played in this.

"It's great coming back every year. You see people around who you just recognize from this tournament," Walton added. "It's been tough this year for our team. It's hard to get players. It's the Tri-Lakes team, but we have some kids who just spend the summer up here or know people from up here. We've had 15 or 16 kids, so that's just four or five subs. We just go out and give it our best."

Although Walton wrapped up playing at the tournament Wednesday, he'll be working at the event through the weekend, manning a tent with gear from Locker Room 5, a store in Lake Placid that specializes in lacrosse and hockey gear.

For more information and tournament schedules, visit



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