On June 28 and 29, 2003, the second annual Greater Binghamton Grandmaster Lacrosse Tournament was held in Binghamton, New York. Binghamton, is one hour south of Syracuse at the "crosse" roads of Interstate Rtes 81, 88, and 17 (soon to be renamed Rte 86).The tourney was sponsored in part by Brine and Graph-Tex. Unlike the mudfest the week before, when US Lacosse brought the rain soaked National Youth Festival to Binghamton, the weather gods were smiling on the oldsters throughout the weekend.
Six teams participated this year. Cloud Splitters, (Splitters) from the Albany, New York area, returned to defend their Binghamton tourney title. Binghamton (Salukis) fielded a combined Binghamton-Vestal squad with several imports. A New Jersey/LI area team, the Xlaxmen also competed, with many players returning from last year. In goal for the Xers was Doc Bob Liegnier (Xman MVP) and/or his brother Jeff. The Palladins, (Dins) a New England area team came for the first time. However, each new team had players who brought their regular team this year, after coming last year and spreading the word to teammates. High Peaks, (Peaks) a Rochester, New York based team appeared for the first time along with Union, whose core is the college alumni team. All teams except Binghamton, have appeared at other national tournaments such as Lake Placid, New York and Weston, Florida.
The first game matched the Cloud Splitters, against Union. Union was drastically undermanned and was outplayed from the face-off. The Splitters appeared to be in championship form winning 9-1. Artie Waugh, in goal for the Splitters played well.
The second game pitted the Xlaxmen against the Palladins and proved a great game. The Dins used a balanced attack devised by team organizers Jon Moriarity and Mel Mckee. Kevin Davidson, had muliple goals as well as two assists for the Dins, to beat the Xers in sudden death overtime 9-8. Dale Weingarten of the Xlaxmen had four goals and an assist.
Binghamton, the second place team last year, opened strong against High Peaks. The pair of Dwayne Newby and Larry O'Leary (Long Island imports) combined for three goals and three assists to lead the Binghamton Salukis past Peaks 10-5. Cal Harris, a former Vestal and Hobart star had one goal and three assists, appearing in his first Grandmaster game. The Harris family has been an important force in local lacrosse from the inception of the first local lacrosse team at Vestal in the late 1960's. Tom Abbott, of Syracuse had two goals to compliment former Binghamton High and Cornell great Keith Reitenbach's two assists. The strong Vestal contingent of Ed Yetsko, Cal Harris and Bill Carne accounted for three goals and three assists while original Binghamton players Pat keefe, Charlie Miller and Reitenbach accounted for three goals and one assist. John Hayes led Peaks with four goals, while Peaks organizer, George Forsyth added a goal. Hayes was ultimately named Peaks MVP. Mike Pitts had two assists for High Peaks as well.
The Splitters in their second game outscored the Dins 9-3. Donnie Brown, on loan from Mr. Boh's from the Maryland area, lead the way with two goals while the ever present Doug Maynard had a goal and two assists. Team organizer and Lake Placid organizer George Levielle had a goal. The Dins got another goal from Kevin Davidson. BJ O'Hara had two assists in the losing effort for the Dins.
The Xlaxmen in their second game, easily handled High Peaks 12-3 behind a stellar performance by Andy Eastwood, who had three goals and one assist. Tim Tuttle, stopped talking just long enough to score two goals and an assist. Glenn Reehill had two goals for Peaks and Mark Serron had another one.
In Binghamton's second game, the combined Saluki/Bear squad easily handled outmanned Union 8-1 behind a two goal effort from Newby and three assists from Reitenbach. Charlie Miller (Binghamton MVP) and Tom Abbott went 1-1 each. The defense, including Pete Kermidas, John Maczko, Scranton U coach Warren Brieg, former Binghamton assist coach Ed Krukowski and Jim Spano totally frustrated Union. Former Vestal Goalie Dave Weiler played a solid game for Binghamton.
In what was perhaps the biggest shocker of the tournament, High Peaks, in its second game, crushed the strangely lifeless Dins 12-3. Serron had a scoring explosion of 4 goals and three assists which complimented John Hayes' 5 goals and one assist. The Dins O'Hara, Davidson and Steve Schau each had a goal. The only Din assist was awarded to O'Hara
In the Xlaxmen's third and final game of the night, they faced a determined but badly outmanned Union team organized by David Hochschartner. Xlaxmen prevailed easily in a balanced attack with no Xer getting more than a single goal. Keith Olsen, Xman organizer, managed to get his name in the scoring book with a 70 yard end of half goal. Paul Serkowa had two goals for Union.
In the night game, under the lights, last year's champions, the Splitters faced last year's runner up, the Salukis/Bears. This year's game had special meaning to the Salukis, a High School reunion team core as it was thirty years after the first Binghamton team played under usual Splitter star Ken Foungier. Ken organized and coached the first Saluki team to a 13-1 record in 1973. Eight of the original Salukis played in the tourney. Foungier, was on special loan to Binghamton from the Splitters but was unable to play after a last minute non-lacrosse injury sidelined him. The whereabouts of several Splitters at the time of the injury is still being investigated. Even without their injured star, the Splitters again outpaced Binghamton 7-2. Doug Maynard stung the Salukis for three goals. Newby and Harris had goals for Binghamton. Former Binghamton HS goalie Mark Ward was hot in the first half, keeping the Splitters to two goals as the score was tied at half.
The tournament party, sponsored by the Salukis/Bears, followed the game and all teams were well represented. The tournament facility, Binghamton Alumni Stadium, was again the talk of the party as the nearly new grass like turf with tiny shreds of rubber made the surface bouncy. It also does not produce rug burns and turf toe like older artificial surfaces. Given the older joints of Grandmasters, the surface was greatly appreciated. Even showers were available although the Splitters couldn't understand why their showers were cold. It is called payback. War stories, jokes, and the usual ribs and lies were passed around along with the pitchers of beer and pizza. The Grandmaster motto, "The older we get, the better we were" still reigns.
The next morning, a depleted Binghamton team opened against a refreshed and refocused Palladin team. Led by Davidson's two goals and one assist, the Dins got 8 goals past Bill Blazey, pressed into goal after neither of the two Binghamton goalies appeared. Bill, normally a LSM, did well as a depleted Binghamton team offered him little support. Binghamton did manage 4 goals, led by a two goal Nowicki effort.
High Peaks easily handled Union 11-4 behind a three goal Hayes effort. Union's lack of manpower became more and more evident.
The final game was also the championship game. The Xlaxmen and the Cloud Splitters squared off with the Splitters being 3-0 and the Xlaxmen being 2-1 thus far. The Splitters started out very flat. Eventually, however, the Splitters crawled back to within one goal only to be thwarted by Grandmasters rules that do not require the ball to be kept in the box by the team with the lead in the final two minutes. Desperate measures backfired as the Xlaxmen squeezed in a final goal to win the tourney 10-8. Keith Haarmon had two goals and an assist. George Levielle, showing his usual fierce competitiveness, lead the valiant comeback effort of the Splitters with two goals and two assists.
Next year tournament director Mack hopes the field can again be expanded to 8 or 10 teams. Several other teams have expressed interest to date. Another field just like Binghamton's, is within 5 miles and is potentially available should the expansion warrant its use.
The six teams who played this year have already deposited spot hold fees for next year. New teams wishing to reserve a spot for 2004 must deposit a refundable fee of $100.00. The fee is refundable until April 1, 2004 should any team need to withdraw. First pay, first reserved applies here. Send your fee check to Jim Mack/Binghamton Youth Lacrosse, Inc., 1 Garfield Ave., Binghamton, New York 13905.
Next year's format is expected be one game Friday afternoon/evening for each team. Two games will be played Saturday and one game on Sunday for each team. Brackets will be determined. The tournament is scheduled for June 25-27, 2004. In 2005 and all years thereafter, the tourney will be played the weekend before so as to not directly interfere with Vail's Supermaster event. The US Lacrosse festival in Binghamton warranted the temporary two year change.
For information, you may contact Tournament director Jim Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.