Few will argue the fact that Maryland and New York are two of the nation's premier hotbeds of high school boys lacrosse, but for decades there has been growing debate as to which state is more dominant.
That long-standing controversy finally could be resolved tonight when high school all-star teams from each of the two states face off at Towson State University's Minnegan Stadium.
The game begins at 8 p.m. and is the centerpiece of the second annual National Junior Lacrosse Association Festival, a three-day affair that includes 1,100 boys and girls from all parts of the the country and abroad competing in 96 games.
Maryland's all-star team is composed of 25 of the state's top incoming high school juniors and seniors. Only players with at least one year of high school eligibility can compete.
"I'm excited to see who has the best lacrosse around," said Gilman's attackman Chase Martin. "My brother [Alex] played for the University of North Carolina and every time I went to visit him, all of his teammates from New York would say how New York players are so much better athletes and this game will settle it once and for all. I think we'll show them who is better."
Maryland All-Stars coach Joe McFadden called the tryouts for the squad "brutal" and hopes his team will have an easier time against New York than he and his coaching staff had in choosing 25 players from a talented group of 120.
"It would be a nice bonus to win the game, but just making the team and being recognized as one of the top returning players in the state is a notable achievement," said McFadden, Loyola's veteran coach.
Sixteen of the players for Maryland's team are from schools in the highly competitive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. Maryland is represented by 17 schools, with Boys' Latin leading the way with five players.
New York boasts 25 players, all from upstate schools, including five from West Genesee High School, a feeder program for many of the nation's top collegiate teams.
McFadden said he isn't making any excuses, but he does think New York has a slight advantage.
"Ability-wise, they have great individuals and we have great individuals but our kids packed it in four weeks ago and they've been to the beach and working summer jobs and a lot of the New York players have been playing six days a week," said McFadden. "Until the schedules are more closely aligned, [New York] will continue to have an advantage."
Martin said, "It all comes down to who has the better lacrosse players. We both have people who can put the ball in the net and people who can stop it from going in. Whoever is best on Saturday will win and then we'll know who is better."