After falling in the championship match the past two summers, Burnt Orange claimed victory in the Masters 1 Division, and the younger Syracuse stars followed with a title-clinching effort in the men’s Open 1 Division.
More than 3,000 lacrosse players on 186 teams competed in the 22nd annual Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament this year, and backers of Syracuse definitely went home happy.
In a game played at noon, Burnt Orange, a team that featured more than 10 past professional lacrosse players, finally came through after coming up short with heartbreaking losses in the championship match over each of the past two years. Playing under sunny skies, Burnt Orange captured the men’s Masters 1 title with an 8-6 victory over Laxfu, a squad consisting of a number of former players from Princeton University.
“It’s about time we won this division,” said Burnt Orange midfielder Mike Witek. “It took us three years of trying, and we finally came through.”
With the win, Burnt Orange avenged a 9-8 loss Friday in the opening round to the same Laxfu squad. Burnt Orange coach Bob “Soot” Zatorski, a Saranac Lake resident, said his team took a lesson from that first meeting.
“We made some key adjustments on the defensive side, and we passed the ball around a lot better,” he said. “We were a lot more patient in this game.”
Burnt Orange grabbed a 5-3 lead in the game, but eventually had to pull away from a 6-6 deadlock by scoring the final two goals of the match.
“Winning a championship in this tournament is huge,” Zatorski said. “Just about every player in this Masters 1 division was an All-American in college. They come from everywhere to compete in this tournament, and it’s a prestigious tournament.
“We really put together a team with head, heart and hustle,” Zatorski added. “It’s nice winning. It took us three years, and we overcame a significant amount of injures to get the job done.”
The name Powell is legendary in the game of lacrosse, and Ryan Powell was one of the players on Burnt Orange. The family hails from Carthage, and another Powell, Mike, played for the men’s Open 1 Division winning Burning Orange team. Late in that title game, it looked like Burning Orange was going to claim a decisive victory when Mike Powell scored on a diving shot to lift his team into a 10-6 lead over Raymour and Flanigan. But as it turned out, Powell’s goal proved to be the game-winner in a 10-9 decision that went in favor of Burning Orange.
One of three Powell siblings who enjoyed professional lacrosse careers, Mike returned to play in the Summit tourney for the first time in a decade. He led a squad comprised mainly of current Syracuse University players and was the oldest on the team. Powell, who is also a musician, returned to Lake Placid to film a movie during the tournament based on Syracuse lacrosse and the Orange’s fans.
‘This week is always the most special week for the game of lacrosse,” Powell said. “I haven’t played in the tournament since 2001, and I came back to make a film, see some friends and play some lacrosse.
“This tournament is mostly about having fun, but when it comes down to it, when you step out on the field, you want to win,” he continued. “As the oldest guy on our team, it was nice just being a role player instead of running all over the field and shooting behind my back. People kept saying to me ‘You are as fast as you have ever been.’ That’s true, but I can only run at top speed for 4 or 5 seconds. Today was a great day for Syracuse lacrosse.”
This year, the Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Tournament featured men’s and women’s teams competing for championships in 12 divisions. The event began Monday with scholastic division games and wrapped up Sunday with championships matches in the tournament’s top divisions.
“Lake Placid is hallowed, sacred ground for lacrosse,” Mike Powell said. “I started coming here when I was 10 to watch my heros. Here, you can sit on the grass right next to the field. At any other game, you sit in metal bleachers separated by an iron curtain from your heroes.”
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
Playing for Burnt Orange Open 1 Division team, Mike Powell protects the ball from a Raymour and Flanigan defender during the championship game Sunday, Aug. 7.