It was Matt Plitnick’s idea that if his team — Team Liberty — scored first in the finals of the 2013 Champion All-American Showcase lacrosse game, that his players would gather around and smile for the camera.
A little cheesy? Yes. But having fun was the name of the game as four all-star teams gathered at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World from July 24-26. Players and coaches from throughout the United States gathered in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for a trio of pool-play games before the championship and consolation game finals.
Plitnick, Columbine’s boys head coach, led his team to a 2-1 pool-play mark, advancing to the finals as the top seed. The only defeat in pool play was a 9-6 setback in the opener to Team Pride, the same squad Team Liberty would face in the finals.
In the championship game, Plitnick’s team seemingly was on its way to victory, up 5-0 at halftime and ahead two goals with just over a minute left. But Team Pride tied the game with a second left in regulation and won it just seconds into the sudden-death overtime.
Even though his team came up short, Plitnick said the experience was worthwhile.
“It really was. It was actually a lot of fun. A little different than the Under Armor Classic, where they take absolutely the best players in the nation,” Plitnick said. “This one was much more geographically spread out with top talent.”
One of those talents was Columbine graduate Dalton Sierra. The University of Tampa-bound attacker played for Team Freedom. His team went 0-3 in pool play, but it wasn’t because of a lack of talent, Plitnick said.
“They actually had the best team on paper. They didn’t come together too well. There was a little too much selfish play,” Plitnick said. “(Dalton) actually played pretty well down there.”
The teams’ quality of play depended on developing cohesiveness in a short period of time. After all, coaches and players weren’t expected to arrive until four hours before the showcase opener. But Plitnick’s team showed a willingness on and off the field to come together.
“There was no practice time, no game plan. It was all done on the fly,” Plitnick said. “After the first game, we had a little dinner. We sat together, we hung out together. It wasn’t like they had to, but they asked to. It was a good attitude, a good effort to do real well. We played unselfish.”
And it was a lot of fun to boot.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.