Elites begin the Shootout | VailDaily.com

Elites begin the Shootout

The names have changed. The locations have changed. The field of teams has changed.

But one thing remains the same when it comes to the Fourth of July weekend in Vail. It’s time for the Elite Divisions of the Vail/Avon Lacrosse Shootout. For the next four days, the best men’s and women’s lacrosse players descend on fields from Edwards to Vail to battle for bragging rights in the 2003 edition of this summer ritual.

Salmon ready to Jam

M.A.B. Paints took out N.W. Jammin’ Salmon, 14-6, in last year’s Men’s Elite final, but the Philly-based squad is a no-show in 2003. That means the Salmon occupies to the top spot in this year’s tourney.

The Salmon, which opens today at 1 p.m. at Ford Park against Merrill Lynch, features 21 former or current All-Americans. Included in this merry crew is attacker Dave Maguire of Ohio Wesleyan fame, as well as Joe Hope (Ithaca, 1998). Leading up the defense is Salisbury alum, Brendan Bellotte.

If the bracket holds to form – a shaky proposition at best – the Salmon should have competition from Harrow Team Colorado, which recorded a surprising third-place finish last year. Centennial-staters Chad Wittman and Jeff Nunziato along with UMass’ Bill Edell should give Team Colorado a strong shot to take the crown. Team Colorado opens vs. QC Lax at 11 a.m., at Ford Park

Team Under Armour now goes by Lax.com/Team Mercury. Whatever you call the third-seed, with the likes of John Zulberti, Trevor and Carson Pratt, Team Orvis will have its hands full today down at Chip Ramsey Park in Edwards today at 3 p.m.

In the No. 4-spot is Bullets Lacrosse, a new entry to the Shootout. Consisting of mostly Gettysburg College players, including Matt McMillen, Jake Van Nostrand and Rob Crowe, this squad starts its Shootout run against GMH in Edwards at 11:30 a.m.

“It’s tough to call who would be the best team,” said tournament web-master Andy Sharp. “We’re not going to know early on who it is until they step on the field.”

That’s because the Men’s Elite field also includes some dark horses with local flavor. That starts with Team Warrior, which has Mike Law (Regis alum and an All-American at DU), Dave Law (currently playing for Princeton) and Geoff Beiging (Cherry Creek and DU). Team Warrior takes on Lacrosse Giant.Com at 9 a.m., at Ford Field.

Then, there’s Rock-it Pocket. This group, primarily from Colorado State University, is seeded No. 9, but tournament director, Jim Soran, says keep an eye on them.

“They’re a group to watch he said,” he said. “They’ve been down there at CSU for the five years and have won three national club titles.”

Women’s Elite: New names, same talent

The top two seeds in the women’s bracket are Behind the Back and AXIA. Huh?

Well, Behind the Back used to be known as Ripple, which won last year’s shooting match. And AXIA is the new name for the line of Team Chesapeake/Teamlacrosse.com, which had owned this tournament until Ripple, now Behind the Back, broke up the dynasty last year.

Got that?

Behind the Back is the favorite until another team says so. But beware Axia, which features such familiar names as Randall Flynn, Michele DeJuliis and Crista Samaras, as well as Rachel Becker, Brooke Owens, Lauren Simone and Danielle Gallagher.

While the 14-team women’s field is sprinkled with Coloradans, No. 3-seed, Team Harrow, is of note. Look for Front Rangers Kinsley O’Garrow, Mariana Spry, Sarah Medwell, Sam Barton and Alanna Gilbertson.

Special Brew pops its way into the fourth seed in its fourth appearance in the Shootout.

More local flavor comes from Last Call, a squad of Colorado club players, Random, a mix of recent high-school grads and Team Colorado, which is made up of players from the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado College.

While the men play in a single-elimination format, the women play in pools before narrowing it down to the eight-team, knockout round.

In Pool A, it’s Behind the Back, Ripple, Team Simeons, Adrenaline and Colorado. Pool B is composed of AXIA, Team Ohio, Gotham, Team Texas and Weakest Link. Pool C is Team Harrow, Special Brew, Last Call and Random.

The top-three teams in Pools A and B, as well as the top two in Pool C advance to the weekend’s championship play.

“Definitely, Axia is going to be strong again,” said Michelle Secor, co-director of the women’s tournament. “They want tot get back to their dynasty. Another thing to look for is Pool C. I have no idea who’s going to win that. Random could be a dark horse and Last Call could do the same thing. There’s going to be a real fight their for those two (playoff) spots.

“Behind the Back is coming back with some veterans and some new names. So they could still make some noise and take the championship again.”

Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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