The success of the 2016 Naptown National Challenge was impressive, so Matt Hogan and Dave Cottle expect the 2017 version to be significantly better for the club lacrosse faithful.
The 2017 Naptown National Challenge will take place starting Monday at four area locations. Class of 2018 and 2019 brackets, consisting of 16 and 20 teams, respectively, will play exclusively on South River High School's 12 fields. Class of 2020, which has the largest number of teams at 22, will battle up the road a bit on Annapolis High School's four fields.
The 2021 group of 18 teams will duel it out at Davidsonville Park's four fields, while the 2022, 2023 and 2024 will split locations — playing at South River on Monday then moving to the eight fields at Bell Branch Park in Gambrills.
Championship games for the top four classes will be contested at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, with the 2021 class getting things started at 2 p.m. followed by 2020 (4 p.m.), 2019 (6 p.m.) and 2018 (8 p.m.)
A youth component has been introduced to the tournament this year and those championship games (2022, 2023, 2024) will be played at Bell Branch Park on Tuesday. Action starts with the 2022 final at 3 p.m. on Field 20, while the 2023 and 2024 games get underway at 2 p.m. on Fields 20 and 19, respectively.
All four high school class games will be televised locally for the second straight year on Comcast SportsNet, with Evan Washburn doing play-by-play and Quint Kessenich providing color commentary.
"The success of last year created the greater interest from teams that feel they can compete at this level," said Hogan, whose participating teams rose from 46 teams in three classes to 95 teams in seven classes. "We will have 18 states and two countries represented this year and hope in the future to increase that as well. Plus, to have the four games covered by television is a huge draw for us."
The Annapolis Hawks, who won the 2018 class last year, will be well represented by county stars. Midfielders Chase Cope, a Navy commit, along with Severna Park High teammate Josh Coffman, a Maryland commit, will lead the Hawks in their attempt for a repeat. Severn School attackman Dylan Gergar, a Lehigh commit, will look to add to his summer goal total while St. Mary's goalkeeper Aleric Fyock, a Penn State commit, will mind the cage.
"The Hawks will have a team in all seven classes," Hogan said. "Our 2018 won it all last year, our 2019 team lost in the championship game and the 2020 team lost in the semifinals to the eventual winners (FCA from Baltimore). The county will certainly be represented well with some fine lacrosse players."
Hogan was told by many college coaches that the 40 teams in the 2020 and 2021 brackets are probably the finest collection of teams at any tournament this summer. Thirty-five college coaches were in attendance over the three-day event that concluded on the Midshipmen's home turf.
Cottle, the Chesapeake Bayhawks general manager and a Hall of Fame coach at Maryland and Loyola, joined Hogan last year to bring the lacrosse contingent an exciting high school and youth tournament to Annapolis. According to the tournament's website (www.NaptownChallenge.com), it's the sights, great restaurants and closeness to both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. that should attract teams to the Annapolis area.
The Chesapeake Bayhawks, along with HoganLax, VisitAnnapolis.org and Lexus are sponsors for the IMLCA (Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association) accredited event.
"The Bayhawks are excited about bringing in some of the top players from all across the country to the Naptown National Challenge," Cottle said. "In its second year, this tournament has skyrocketed to the top of the list."
Action begins as early as 9 a.m. on Monday at the different locations and 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Visit the tournament website for more information.