Special Forces U15 lacrosse team first at regional championship
In just one season, a newly formed U15 Lacrosse traveling club team called Special Forces has made quite a name for itself by winning a US Lacrosse regional championship and qualifying for the upcoming national championships in Colorado.
Special Forces advanced to the Regional Championship on Father’s Day, June 15, in Verona Wis., and faced the undefeated Coyotes of Dane County Wis. The Coyotes were formidable opponents, battling back from a 4-1 lead gained by Special forces and tying the match 5-5 heading into halftime.
The teams each scored a goal in the third quarter but Special Forces gained momentum and added three goals for a 9-6 lead with just five minutes remaining in the championship. However, the Coyotes didn’t just roll over and play dead; they scored three goals in the final four minutes of play to tie the game and send Special Forces into overtime.
Midway through the four minute overtime, Dylan Day, the son of Special Forces head coach Corbett Day, scored the game-winning goal to help advance the Tecumseh team to the 2014 US Lacrosse U15 National Championships, scheduled from July 21-23 in Aurora, Colo.
“The bad thing was he lost the ball with 40 seconds left,” said coach Day. “And they went full field, I thought for sure we were going to loose because they were solid.”
As a dad/coach, Day tore into his boy when he came off the field.
“I think he took it personally,” Day said. “We actually had the play set up for one of our other players to single him out. He dropped it, went down passed off to my boy and my boy wrapped, scored and that was it. What a happy Father’s Day gift.”
Special Forces’ coaches and players set some very hard to reach goals for their inaugural year; winning 20-plus games during the regular season (21-5) and earning a bid to both the Regional and National Championships. It was hard for them to believe they actually reached the goals.
“It was intense. Everything that we could actually want happened out there,” said coach Day.
The sixth annual championships, which feature as many as 32 boys’ and 32 girls’ teams from around the country, will take place concurrently at Aurora Sports Park, just east of Denver.
The top four teams at each regional received automatic invitation to the national championships with free registration.
“We said to all the kids prior to that championship game that we were not only doing it for the Father’s who are here, because we represent Wounded Warriors, were doing it for those kids who don’t have fathers... Our kids just took it to heart and played their life off for that game.”
Making it to the title game was “brutal” according to Day with the team having to advance from pool play to bracket play before playing in the championship.
Special Forces won its Friday match without a problem but in its following game the team was down by six goals and looking at the end of the season before finishing with a tie to stay alive.
They won their third game and became the number two seed going into bracket play. Special Forces then faced the team they tied in the semifinals.
“Anytime you play a team twice it’s brutal,” Day said. “We just dog-tired them and smoked them 13-5.”
Day said in the final game, half of the other teams players were freshmen while half of his team were 13-year-olds.
“Really, the thirteen-year-olds won that game for us,” said Day. “Our fourteen and fifteen-year-olds were doing their part, but our younger kids really picked it up and went to town.”
Special Forces is based out of Tecumseh and coached by Day and three other fathers, Jeff Jennings, Jeff Burns and Ralph Amador, who wanted to create a quality lacrosse club for not only their children but also others who were interested in the game.
The coaches wanted to get as much help as possible to teach their players the sport so they recruited three new college players, Michael Birt, and brothers Cullen and Charlie Haesler, all Tecumseh graduates, to help show the kids how its done at a higher level of competition.
Special Forces’ roster has three players from Holt, two out of Dewitt, one out of Sylvania, and two from Saline in addition to several Tecumseh youths.
Special Forces will head to Colorado a couple of days early to acclimate to the mile-high area and to get in some of the best lacrosse to be found.
“We’re meeting with some athletic trainers to figure out how we adjust our kids now to the altitude,” said Day. “It’s going to be a huge disadvantage for us. But, we have enough players on the sideline that we can shuffle in and out so we should be okay.”
Teams that participate in the championships may purchase discounted tickets to the July 17-19 playoff games of the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Men’s World Championships, which US Lacrosse is hosting at nearby Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver.
To Day’s knowledge, no other boys’ lacrosse club in Michigan qualified for the US Lacrosse national tournament and this is the first time a Tecumseh club team has qualified.
“Some of the competition we’re going to see out there is solid,’ said Day. “The team that won last year was Denver; home field advantage and acclimated to the altitude. It’s going to be tough... But, it’ll be an amazing experience.”