“Sand Storm is definitely going to be a staple of our annual schedule. It is a terrific tournament in every respect. It’s very well organized, the venue is fantastic and I thought the competition was extremely strong this year,”
While the bulk of teams hailed from western states such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington, there was significant representation from such East Coast states as Florida, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Sam Bartron has already penciled the Sand Storm lacrosse tournament onto the 2010 calendar for Team 180. That’s because players, parents and coaches associated with the Denver-based women’s lacrosse program have fallen in love with this innovative event, organized by Synapse Sports through their major brand, womenslacrosse.com.
Sand Storm made a wildly successful debut in 2008 and was bigger and better in 2009 as the field doubled in size and the overall atmosphere became more spectacular. Bartron believes Sand Storm has already established itself as the premier club tournament on the West Coast. “Sand Storm is definitely going to be a staple of our annual schedule. It is a terrific tournament in every respect. It’s very well organized, the venue is fantastic and I thought the competition was extremely strong this year,” Bartron said.
“This was one of the first travel experiences for our middle school team and those girls just had an absolute ball. They had constant smiles on their faces.”
High level competition, a scenic location and glorious weather combined to make the second annual Sand Storm at Palm Springs a rousing success. Set against a backdrop of palm trees and snow-capped mountains, the tournament attracted 40 teams and more than 800 athletes to the lush grounds of the Empire Polo Club for two days of intense competition. “Our girls loved the way the tournament was laid out. It was so nice to have all the games being played on this one gi-normous field,” Bartron said. Barton had good reason to be happy after Team 180 took home both the Junior Varsity and Middle School championships. It was the second straight year the Denver program captured both of those titles.
Goalkeepers Emily Smith (Regis High) and Cassidy Chaney (Cherry Creek) anchored a stifling defense that led the 2012 squad to the JV crown. Analise Stein (Arapaho) provided superb defensive support as Team 180 compiled a 4-1 record and defeated Valley Center Lacrosse in the final. Lizzy Strasza (Kent-Denver) was the team’s top scoring threat on attack while Lulu Dikeou (Kent-Denver) was the key figure in midfield.
“That team has been together a couple years now and is really starting to gel. They are a very close-knit group and that shows on the field,” Bartron said. “I’d say the strength of the team is its riding, draw work and overall ability to control possession.”
Summer Nichols and Delaney Solomon shared the goaltending duties for the 2013 club that came away with the Riser title. Kathryn Blumhardt and Stephanie Guerra played lockdown defense while Haley Kroll provided a slew of points from the attack position. Erin Sungelo and Catherine Ellis were dominant in the midfield. “We have a very strong group of middle school girls that has tremendous potential. They are just going to get better and better,” Bartron said.
Triple Threat, a San Francisco-based program directed by Noemi Hites and Dearborn Davis, repeated as Varsity division champs. Attacker Jessie Esteban (San Ramon) and midfielder Rachel Ozer (Campolido) both of whom were named to the All-Tournament team, led the way as Triple Threat went 7-0 and defeated Team 180, 10-3, in the final. “Sand Storm was much bigger this year and the caliber of talent was impressive. This tournament definitely has a bright future,” Davis said.
Katherine Herzog (San Ramon) and Caroline Federighi (Amador) were almost impenetrable between the pipes as Triple Threat allowed an average of two goals per game. Maddie Saxton (Foothill) and Casey Bowles (San Ramon) were the stalwarts of a suffocating defense. Kate Mitchell (Acalanes) joined Ozer in helping the East Bay contingent win the draws and ground balls in the middle of the field. “We have a bunch of seniors and this was their last tournament together. It was really a fantastic experience and all the girls just had a great time,” Hites said.
While the bulk of teams hailed from western states such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington, there was significant representation from such East Coast states as Florida, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia. It was a typical Synapse Sports production with all sorts of fun activities and on-field clinics to enhance the experience for participants. Perhaps most important was the fact that 20 college coaches turned out to scout for talent. Among the Division I programs represented were Cal-Berkeley, Cornell, Oregon, Stanford, Navy, Yale and Loyola (MD).
STX directed clinics featuring former Maryland All-American and 2008 Teewaraton Trophy finalist Dana Dobbie. The Canadian National team member and current Loyola College assistant also administered a high school coaching clinic, and along with former Division I coach Stephy Samaras, a recruiting seminar. One of the more innovative highlights of the tournament was the fluid loss testing conducted by Gatorade, providing a unique opportunity to bring their experience from the lab to the field of play. It marked the first time Gatorade tested females for fluid loss, resulting in a tremendous educational opportunity for the athletes, as they experienced first-hand how sweat loss impacts performance, as well as the benefits of using Gatorade during competition.
Cathy Samaras, president and CEO of Synapse Sports, was thrilled with every aspect of the event’s second year and expects that the tournament will continue to grow in the coming years. “Sand Storm has certainly exploded on the West Coast lacrosse scene very quickly. Everything went smoothly again this year and the feedback we received from players, parents and coaches was all very positive,” Samaras said. “We plan to develop Sand Storm into a can’t-miss event for clubs throughout the country.”