15-11: Top 25 Stories of 2011

Don't be disappointed if you've never heard of some of our Top 25 Stories of 2011. 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.

#25 - #21 | #20 - #16 | #15 - #11 | #10 - #6 | #5 - #1

What can we say? The annual Lake Placid Summit Tournament is getting bigger and better every year. An expanding scholastic division, a new Women's Master Division, a team from Japan, Dom Starsia's Spillett Grand Master's Award and much more coverage from Inside Lacrosse has solidified the opinion of many that Placid IS Upstate lacrosse in the summer. There are so many stories, interviews, and videos, we'll just point you in those directions and let you enjoy:

Lake Placid Summit Home
JustLacrosse Lake Placid Archive
Casey Vock's Perfect Weather, Elite Talent Make Summit Classic Recruiting Paradise
IL's George Leveille Interview & Video Search Results

After two early season losses to Army and Virginia, Big Red Head Coach Ben Deluca rallied the troops and reeled off eight straight wins, including an 11-6 upset of then #1 Syracuse in the Dome. An undefeated Ivy League schedule gave them their 9th consecutive Ivy League regular season title and earned them the right to host the League Championship Tourmanent where the winning continued with victories over Yale and Harvard.

The accumulating W's also carried the Big Red slowly but surely up the rankings, climbing from #9/#12 in the March 14th Media/Coaches Polls to #2 in both polls on May 9th and securing the #2 Seed in the NCAA Tournament. A 12-5 opening round win over Hartford at home kept spirits high. In the quarterfinals at Hofstra, Cornell faced one of the two teams they had lost to earlier in the season. The Big Red took an early 4-1 over #7 seed Virginia, but the Cavs scored the last 9 goals of the first half to take the lead which they never relinquished.

The Oneida Nation's Turning Stone Casino Resort, with experience hosting major golf events and tennis exhibitions, has jumped headlong into supporting and promoting an important aspect of the Haudenosaunee culture, lacrosse.

For most, the love for lacrosse that has come to non-natives over the past century also brought an understanding of the importance of lacrosse in the culture of Native Americans. It is very important to them, as it should be to the entire lacrosse family, that as we try to spread the love for the game across the country and across the planet, that we also take care to teach the roots of lacrosse as a cultural pillar of the Haudenosaunee, as well as of other Native groups who have celebrated the Creator's gift for hundreds, if not thousands or years.

This past year saw the Oneida Nation, through the Turning Stone, take steps in that direction by hosting two major box lacrosse events. The NLL All-Star Game being held at the Turning Stone Event Center was an opportunity to connect one path being taken to teach and promote the sport with its traditionals roots. And the event allowed the National Lacrosse League to recognize and honor the Iroquois National Team.

"We are pleased to be able to honor the Iroqouis Nationals team for the great character they displayed during an extremely difficult situation this past summer", said NLL Commissioner George Daniel. "We are proud to have them as part of our All-Star Game this weekend".

In October, the Turning Stone played host to the second annual Bowhunter Cup, a 'friendly competition' between the indoor teams of the Iroquois Nationals and Team USA. The Nationals defeated the United States to even the series at 1-1.

Inside Lacrosse reported in May of rumors that the Turning Stone may play a part in a third, and very major event that could happen here in Upsate New York. It's believed the Haudenosaunee and the US have put in a joint bid to host the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, with games to be played at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, and on Oneida Nation territory in Verona, site of the Turning Stone.

What better experience could there be for the Upstate lacrosse family than to join hands and teach the world the true story of lacrosse?

Isn't the chance for a big time upset that really keeps us watching any sport? Seems obvious since 'rooting for the underdog' seems to have become ingrained in American culture.

There were some big upsets around these parts in 2011, and on the High School side we're going to concentrate on Section 6 because we haven't given it the coverage it truly deserves. We hope to fix that throughout the 2012 season.

The Section 6 Championships featured two huge upsets. First, Clarence stunned Orchard Park 7-5 in Class A after being down 5-1, outscoring OP 6-0 in the last 25 minutes. Just hours later Niagara-Wheatfield ousted 4-time defending Class B champion Hamburg 10-9 in OT. The loss to Clarence wasn't the first upset suffered by Western powerhouse Orchard Park in 2011. Earlier in the season Class C Silver Creek downed OP 12-11, a win that rocked Section 6 in a way we'll be discussing tomorrow. Silver Creek, led by Zeddy Williams (99G, 56A for 2011), continued with upsets in the post-season with wins over Amherst and Penn Yan. West Seneca East edged Hamburg 6-5 in early May, giving the Bulldogs their first loss to an area team in four years.

On the girls' side, Frontier won the Section 6 Class A title with a 6-3 win over six-time defendng champion Lancaster.

There were some notible upsets in the college game, as well. #5 Cornell went up to the Dome on April 12th and upset the #1 Orange in pretty convincing fashion, 11-6. In Division II, #5 seed Merrimack defeated the national #1 Le Moyne in the NE-10 semi-finals, their second upset of the Dolphins in two years. And perhaps the most talked about upset, Upstater Grant Catalino scored the overtime game-winner as unseeded Maryland upset the #1 Orange in the NCAA quarterfinals in May.

And finally, yes, literally the last game of the season for the Cornell women, #2 Florida travelled to Ithaca and went home in defeat as the Big Red ended the Gators' 14-game win streak, 9-6, and gave head coach Jenny Graap her 150th career win.

Every year has its share of coaching changes, but in 2011 they seemed to be a weekly event. Upstate saw maybe more than it's share: Ed Stephenson resigned at Binghamton in a dispute with the administration over the suspension of three players alledgedly involved in a fight. He is now Associate Head Coach at UMBC.

Scott Nelson, three times a National Champion head coach at Nazareth, left the top job at Marist to fill the opening at Binghamton. Keegan Wilkinson was promoted to the head coaching position at Marist.

Jim Stagnitta left Rutgers amicably after ten seasons.

Jim Nagle returned to his native Long Island to take the top spot at Stony Brook, leaving Colgate after ten years. Army assistant Mike Murphy takes over the helm for the Red Raiders.

Finger Lakes Lacrosse Club founder and former Orangeman Jim Morressey was elevated from assistant to interim head coach at Holy Cross in March, then was named to the permanent position on April 28th.

The School Board in the Jordan-Elbridge School District chose not to reappoint longtime coach Rick Young and JV coach Mike Smart. After assistants turned down the open positions and resigned in support, the District had to scramble to find coaches for the season. Upstate lacrosse icon BJ O'Hara stepped in to help save the season. Early last month the School Board voted 6-0 to restore Young as varsity head coach for the 2012 season.