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Pro Women Take Summit Stage

By Lou Reuter / Lake Placid News, 08/10/17, 2:45PM EDT


LAKE  PLACID - A year ago, the Lake Placid Summit Classic added a new feature to the tournament with the debut of the Major League Lacrosse legends game that drew a big crowd to the North Elba athletic fields to watch the men's stars of the game in an exhibition matchup.

This summer, professional women players got their chance to step on the Summit stage in Lake Placid, as the tournament hosted the championship game of the United Women's Lacrosse League Wednesday afternoon.

The game marked the end of the second season of the fledgling four-team women's pro league, and the outcome was similar to a year ago when the Long Island Sound soared to the title. The Sound capped off an unbeaten season with its 16-8 victory over the Boston Storm in the UWLX final.

The game was a rematch of the 2016 final, which saw the Sound top the Storm 13-8.

Christina Esposito led the Sound with four goals on her way to being honored as the most valuable player of the match. She joined the team for the first time this summer after graduating from Northwestern University.

Esposito said it was a big deal for her league to get some more exposure by playing its second championship game in Lake Placid at one of the world's most well known gathering spots for lacrosse players each summer.

"I think to start anything, you just got to throw it out there and get it out there, and that's why I think this venue is so awesome," Esposito said. "That's what this league is all about - to play here in front of all these girls who are just looking to have a fun weekend of lacrosse. It's about not only growing the game but it's an opportunity for us that we've never had before."

Long Island finished with an 7-0 record this year, including two victories over Boston during the regular season by one- and three-goal margins. Esposito said playing in the new league has been a lot of fun.

"You're playing with all the top girls from college now, so it's definitely a step up," she said. "The rules are called a little less, so the game moves faster. You got to play through the dirty things, which in college you'd get a lot of calls. I think you kind of get to showcase how aggressive we really are. This is one of most fun things I've ever done. You kind of got used to it as the games went on - get used to the rules, get used to each other and it's been a blast every single game."

Esposito said that although her team really only got together for games, the group was skilled enough and tight enough to turn in solid performances whenever they stepped on the field."

"We kind of just took it game by game," Esposito said. "Sometimes we didn't have a full roster but the girls that are on this team are unbelievable players and every time we came, we just wanted to have fun, and we're all hard-working players and we just got it done every time. We have some of the best talent from across Division I and some other divisions. We like to play and we all have great stick skills. We just like to put on a show for fans and have fun."

The outcome of Wednesday's game was never really in doubt. The Sound jumped out to a quick 4-0 edge, and after the match was stopped for about half an hour due to a passing thunderstorm, Long Island tacked on another goal to go up 5-0. The Storm eventually found some offense and scored the next two goals, but the Sound answered with seven straight to own a lead 12-2 at halftime.

Boston played much better in the second half but could never recover from its slow start.

"We would have liked to have done better," said Tanner Guarino, a 2014 Umass grad who paced Boston with three goals. "Every time we tried to get back in it, they responded."

Halle Majorana, a 2016 Syracuse graduate, and Jill Byers, a Notre Dame alum, also notched three goals each in the win.

The Sound is coached by Regy Thorpe, who is the assistant coach for the Syracuse women's program. Thorpe, who won a men's national title while playing at Syracuse, also said having Wednesday's UWLX final at the Summit was fun.

"It's certainly special," said Thorpe, adding that he's been coming to the tournament since it began in 1990. "There's such a tradition up here at Lake Placid for lacrosse, and for the second year of our league to have a championship game in such a prestigious place is awesome. It's huge honor, we're certainly happy to be a part of it, and hope we can in the future."

In other Summit Classic action Wednesday, SweetLax (2018-2019 Gold), Team 91 (2018-2019 Silver), Fellowship of Christian Athletes (2020-2021 Gold) and Gaffers Elite (2020-2021 Silver) earned championship victories in the scholastic boys divisions. Meanwhile in the girls' brackets, the Golden Domers Notre Dame-committed squad (Northstar division), Mass Elite Red (2018-2020 ) and Virginia Metro (2021-2022 Gold) claimed division titles.