TEAM TOTAL TAKES BRONZE MEDAL IN NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Team Total Michigan Varsity team, based at Total Sports in Wixom and coached by Dwayne Hicks and Chris Cooper, competed at the National Tournament of Champions over the holiday break in Tampa, Florida. This Tournament draws many of the best teams in the country. To qualify, teams must have been in the finals of a premier summer or fall event. Because Team Total Michigan Varsity team won the Patriot Games tournament this summer, it was qualified to compete at Nationals.
The first day was not the best day for Team Total. Although the team played well at times, unforced errors and missed opportunities resulted in two tough losses. The team was not playing in sync nor at the speed of their competition. Florida Elite was talented but mistakes and turnovers gave them opportunities to score in transition. Mesa Fresh from Philadelphia was another talented team that our boys played tough. This team was made up of mostly Haverford High School (#3 National Laxpower) players who were there prepping for their spring season. After two losses, our team would be seeded #11 heading into the tournament portion of the weekend.
Day two would see a different Team Total: faster, more aggressive, and making fewer mistakes was the plan for the day. Against the #6 seeded Road Warriors (players from Syracuse and Six Nations), Total was running and gunning, but, so were the Warriors. In a close game, it came down to the team who controlled the ball and made key plays at the right time. In both cases, it was Team Total. Final score 9-7, withTotal moving on to the Elite Eight.
In the quarter finals, Total would be in a rematch against Florida Elite. But Florida was in for a surprise. This was the not the same team they has faced the day before. Somehow, in 24 hours, the team from Michigan had gotten faster, more aggressive, found their sticks skills, and were incredibly confident. They were now playing up to their potential. And the results were evident, 9-2, Total, and on to the semi finals.
Day 3, Championship Day. Semifinal round would see Total face FCA (Fellow Christians Athletes). FCA is considered one of the premier travel team program in the country. Its players come from around the country and all play at the highest level. FCA came out fast trying to dictate the pace and winning the ground ball battle. Team Total would have to pick up the pace and minimize errors to pull out a victory. At halftime, the score was 2-1, FCA. In the second half, it would be more of the same. As FCA worked to control the ball, Total would apply the pressure resulting in several penalities and goals. On the offensive side, Total had trouble finding their groove. Final score, 8-3, FCA.
In the other semifinal, Mesa Fresh defeated Northern Lacrosse (which consisted of Canadian players including several national team members) in overtime. Therefore, it would be Total vs Northern for the bronze medal. And what an exciting bronze medal game it would be. Total came out on a mission, but struggled throughout the first half, missing several key opportunities. At the end of the first half, the score was 5-2, Northern. The second half was all offense as both teams let their shooters loose on the cages. With 22 seconds left in the game, Total scored the go ahead goal to make the score 9-8. Then, as the final seconds ticked off, a ground ball scramble in the midfield lead to a fast break and a game tying goal for Northern. The bronze medal would be decided in overtime. Northern's strategy of holding the ball and testing Total's defense would backfire as one of their handlers was stripped in the open field. This lead to a pass upfield to a breaking midfielder who threw a perfect pass to Collin Cummings who put in the winning goal. Total wins!
From all reports, going to Nationals was a great experience. The scouting coaches who were there stated that Total was the surprise team of the tournament. Of all the teams to make the semi-finals at the high school level, Total was the only one that didn't feature national team players. The aggressive style of play and the incredible amount of hustle displayed by Team Total players impressed every coach at the Tournament. "You guys are from Michigan?" Yes, we're from Michigan.
Great job Team Total!
Team Total Team members included: John Cooke, Jake Fuller, Austin Herbert, Austin Reinke, Matt Beaszley, Sean Stanners, Griffin Sibo, Brett Braun, Mark Longe, Travis Sparling, Ray Tague, Collin Cummings, Matt Molchan, Zach Rogers, Steve Ramos, Connor Murray, Mark Hoffman, Jack Van Acker, Connor Holton, Tommy McMaster, and Collin Smith.