Don't be disappointed if you've never heard of some of our Top 18 Stories of 2014. This is not a list of stories with the most hits, or most views, or most comments. Many times a death, an award, a project in progress or recently completed can affect many, many lives without much fanfare in the press. Many of these stories bring fond memories, give us hope for the future, or inspire greatness, many times with a smile or a tear.
The inaugural Haudenosaunee Wooden Stick Lacrosse Expo was held in 2013 on the shores of Onondaga Lake, and it was a great disappointment across Upstate NY when word came that the 2014 edition was going to have to be cancelled especially after the tremendous year the Iroquois Nationals both on and off the field.
Here's hoping we see the return of the Festival, as well as great strides towards completion of the Skä·noñh — Great Law of Peace Center at Onondaga Lake.
In case you did not make it to the first Expo, here is some of what you missed -
Photos from JustLacrosse UpstatePhotos from Jared Chandler
As the sport of lacrosse becomes even more popular and we see more parity between the original hot beds and new regions across the country, many programs across Upstate will always be able to take pride in the history and traditions from the very earliest years of scholastic lacrosse.
This May Webster celebrated its 50 years of lacrosse with friendly competitions, “Lacrosse-the-Ridge” challenge games, between the Thomas and Schroeder schools as well as other social functions for former players, alumni, and residents. You can see a photo of the inaugural 1964 Webster boys lacrosse team here.
Whipple is a well known and respected lacrosse name across Upstate NY and beyond. Irondequoit head coach Craig Whipple, who garnered a record of 111-36 at his his alma mater along with four Section V Championships, four Western Region Championships, and the 2012 Upstate Championship, left the program mid-season. Whipple was reluctant to discuss details about apparent disagreements with the school district when the announcement was made, but did offer some insight soon thereafter.
The Irondequoit lacrosse program has a long and successful history of nearly 60 years, including sixteen Section 5 Championships in 28 appearences, including the very first title game in 1975, so the story of this head coach leaving mid-season is concerning to the hundreds of program alumni now scattered throughout the country, not just the parents of current players. We know that by the activity this story created at JustLacrosse Upstate. It's not often we receive emails concerning a story we have simply linked to, but the
support for Coach Whipple followed quickly after his departure.
In early October Whipple was named as a volunteer assistant coach for the men's program at Hobart. In the announcement, Hobart head coach stated, "Coach Whipple is a wonderful addition to our staff," Raymond said. "I've known Craig since his playing days at RIT where he was a teammate of my older brother. Craig eats, sleeps and breathes lacrosse. He truly loves this game, and his accomplishments as Irondequoit's head coach prove he has the ability to lead and mentor young men. We are excited to add his knowledge and passion to the Hobart lacrosse program."
The 2014 Monroe Community College Women's lacrosse team could did no better than the 2013 team did. Fortunately, that meant they went undefeated and won the National Championship.
They have claimed four of the past five National Titles, and have a 35-game winning streak - reminiscent of another team we'll discuss later.
Along the way to the 2014 title, they outscored their opponents 323-88 and were the only team to defeat rival OCC . . . and they did it three times.
After falling in the opening game of the 2014 NLL Championship series, the 2-time defending champion Rochester Knighthawks came home and made history by winning Game #2 and the Mini-Game to claim their third consecutive National Lacrosse League Championship.
Dan Dawson, who missed the opening game of the series after suffering an upper body injury against the Buffalo Bandits, returned to action on the final night and scored three goals and added 4 assists in Game #2, and assisted on the game-winning goal in the mini-game tie-breaker to earn the Championship Series MVP.
2014 was quite a year for Section 3 lacrosse alums. You probaly heard something about those two brothers from LaFayette that had a pretty good year on the offensive side of the field, but the top defender in Division I was also from Section 3. Loyola defender Joe Fletcher, a West Genesee graduate and team captain, was named the 2014 William C. Schmeisser Award Outstanding Defensive Player by the USILA.
Joe led the nation in ground balls (80), and had a career-high 31 caused turnovers. He was one of the five final nominees for the Tewaaraton Award, a
2014 Senior CLASS Award finalist, the
Patriot League Male Scholar-Athlete Of Year (all sports), a two-time USILA All-American First-Teamer, and was the only collegiate player chosen for the 30-man Team USA Training Team leading up to the World Games.
And although Albany came up the winner in their NCAA first round game with Loyola, the battle between Fletcher and Lyle Thompson was one of if not THE most anticipated matchups of the season. It's well worth twelve minutes of your time -
Though a look through the history of NYS Boy's lacrosse shows a trend toward the dominance of certain Sections as the rounds progress to the finals, we're not sure if the state title tournament has ever been one of complete sweeps.
The Upstate Tournament began with Section 3 sweeping Section 10 in the Outbracket Round, and Section 5 sweeping Secion 6 in the West Regionals. Section 5 then suffered the same fate as they were swept by Section 3 in the Upstate Finals. The pattern continued into the State Finals, with Section 3 and Upstate representatives F-M, J-D, and Cazenovia all fell victim to downstate foes Massapequa, Yorktown, and Bronxville, respectively.
It's almost a certainty that you will be reminded of this oddity many times during the 2015 tournament.
Really not much to say here, right? Though Syracuse never led, they did have the game tied at 7 for almost three minutes in the fourth quarter. And the last minute had everyone on the edge of their seats as Kevin Rice brought the Orange to within one with 7 seconds left, and Dylan Donahue's last second shot hit the post.
Best to just forget this one and move on . . . but if you want to know more, you can find it here.
If they keep earning them, we'll keep listing them!
We don't have the words to properly convey what this team, this coach, this program has accomplished. It's probably more accurate to say there aren't any words left that haven't been used over the past six years and beyond. With six consecutive National Championships, eight overall, and 87 consecutive victories, the next milestone will be adding a 7th consecutive championship
tying the record held by Nassau Community College (NCC has 21 overall). That win would also tie Herkimer CC with nine total junior college titles.
The success of head coach Chuck Wilbur over his 13 year coaching career is truly amazing. But we sit here wondering who realizes that traces of his success at Onondaga can be found in the Six Nations Arrows, the Six Nations Chiefs, the Syracuse Orange, the Iroquois Nationals, and on and on . . . ?
In July Le Moyne College announced that Kathy Taylor would be coming onboard as the Women's Lacrosse Head Coach.
For her six years at Cortland, Taylor compiled an amazing record of 115-17, 84-7 in the last four years, and Cortland won their first 22 games of 2014, finishing 22-1. Her SUNYAC record was 48-1, with the Red Dragons earning six straight SUNYAC Tournament Championships and five consecutive SUNYAC regular season championships. Taylor was named IWLCA Empire Region Coach of the Year each of the last four years.
She came to Cortland after leading Fayetteville-Manlius from 1988 to 2006, compiling a record of 245-62-3 (.795), winning two State championships, and five Section III titles. She was named the Central New York Coach of the Year twice.
Upon the announcement, Taylor said, "I feel lucky to have been a part of such a supportive successful athletic department and university. Leaving Cortland was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my professional life, but I feel confident that the program is in a good place and know that they will enjoy continued success."
Meet Kathy Taylor -
Few players in all of lacrosse, let alone Upstate lax, had as momentous a 2014 as Delmar's Kevin Leveille. Let's begin at the end as Kevin closed out his professional career with
a retirement announcement on August 28th, just a week after the Rattlers' captain took his team to the league's Steinfeld Cup Championship Game. He finished his MLL career as the second most prolific goal scorer (two behind John Grant, Jr.), and tied for the most game-winning goals.
His summer also included another successful Lake Placid Summer Classic which he oversees with his father and tournament founder George, and brother and Tewaaraton Trophy winner Mike.
Perhaps his greatest 2014 memory, though, will be not only his being named to the Team USA squad for the 2014 FIL Championships after serving as an alternate in 2010, but also being chosen by its players as the sole captain.
After being denied the opportunity to play the game they gave to us on the world stage in 2010, the Iroquois Nationals not only returned to interntional play in Denver, they finally broke the ice and earned their first FIL medal by claiming the Bronze with a convincing 16-5 win over Australia.
What was said by many to be the best Iroquois team to set foot on an international field, losing only to Canada and the US, the Haudenosaunee were
warmly welcomed by the Denver area Native American community, and as Casey Vock, writing for Inside Lacrosse observed, even their scrimmages, "drew a pack of fans, many of them young kids, who stacked the sideline and waited for their chance to get autographs and meet the players and coaches."
The success of Miles, Ty, and Lyle Thompson playing for SUNY Albany this year, and the presence of Jeremy and Jerome Thompson on the team produced this observation from
Iroquois Nationals general manager Ansley Jemison: “Those guys, they’re like traveling with The Beatles,” he joked.
Congratulations to Coach Beville, the players, the organization, and entire Native American community for not only a great World Championship Tournament showing, a great 2014 overall!
We thought of using "Helmetgate", but that was already taken.
On November 24th word came that the Cascade R and the Warrior Regulator, which had been certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment,
no longer passed the NOCSAE helmet standard ND041. Apparently this came to light when STX, who had just released their Stallion, submitted test results for many helmets from different manufacturers that showed the Cascade R and the Warrior Regulator fell short of the NOSCAE standards.
In the earliest days of this story, nearly every lacrosse player in the country was anxious to find out if their helmet was involved. And when the two models involved emerged from the dust, the ability of thousands of players at all levels, and in many cases entire teams, to step on the field was in question. It took many days to sort out exactly what the problem was, and if it could be fixed with modifications from Cascade and Warrior.
A problem affecting so many Upstate players, let alone laxers from all across America and beyond, would have qualified it for our #2 slot, but of course all Cascade are made right here in Upstate NY . . . Liverpool to be exact. And the Cascade name has always been a source of pride for all of Upstate.
Cascade quickly came up with a plan to upgrade the 'R' so that it once again could be certified by NOCSAE, and issued a video clearly explaining. the situation. If you still haven't made an effort to get your Cascade R modified for play, be sure to check here.
If you want to delve more deeply into the nuts and bolts of the entire situation, Lacrosse All-Stars interviewed Mike Oliver, the executive director of NOCSAE.
And if you'd like to learn more about Cascade Lacrosse (as well as catching a glimpse of some Liverpool landmarks) invest five minutes in this video: