Lacrosse games unite best of best

The Baltimore Sun

Jackie Doherty was surfing the Web one evening about midway through her lacrosse season at Mount Hebron when she came across something so exciting that she had to yell to her mother from across the room to come take a look.

Doherty, like 87 other senior high school lacrosse players, including 24 from Maryland, found that she had been named an Under Armour All-American and would take part in festivities today at Loyola College's Diane Geppi-Aikens Field.

The event has become particularly special for Doherty, who got to meet two of her future Notre Dame teammates during game preparations yesterday.

"You come down here and they treat you like you're royalty," Doherty said. "They just throw free stuff at you. They give you these really nice hotel rooms and you get to go play against the best lacrosse players in the country."

The event, which debuted last year at Towson University, pits All-Stars from the United States in a North vs. South format starting with the girls game at 3 p.m. today and continuing with the boys game at 5 p.m.

The athletes are chosen from a pool of 150 by a committee of experts from Inside Lacrosse magazine, who whittle that down to the 44 boys and girls ultimately chosen as All-Americans.

Corrigan Sports Enterprises, which also sponsors the Baltimore Marathon with Under Armour, pitched the idea for a high school lacrosse All-America team to Under Armour executives five years ago with the McDonald's All-America basketball team model in mind.

Lee Corrigan, president of Corrigan Sports, said he wanted to improve upon the All-America awards already given out for lacrosse around the country every year.

"There was nothing to identify guys as truly the best of the best," Corrigan said yesterday. "[Being] a McDonald's All-American labels those guys as the best of the best [in basketball]. Now the Under Armour All-American labels our guys as the best of the best [in lacrosse]."

Corrigan said that when Under Armour committed to the event, it jumped on the idea.

"Lacrosse was getting infiltrated by shoe companies," Corrigan said. "[Under Armour] wanted to do something to really make them stand apart in the lacrosse arena. Doing this really slammed the door shut on the competition."

Apart from the All-America games, two underclass All-Star Games will also take place, the girls playing at 11 a.m. and the boys game scheduled for 1 p.m.

The contest features athletes from the Baltimore and Washington areas. Many of the athletes who participated in the underclass game in 2006 were chosen as All-Americans this year by the Inside Lacrosse panel.

Though the All-Star Game is essentially a friendly competition, players and coaches aren't about to turn down the intensity of their game plan.

"We want to win," said Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly, who is coaching the boys South team. "You coach it to win. My job as the coach is to get them in situations where they can succeed. We'll be up-tempo."

Tickets are available at the gate or by calling Ticketmaster at 410-547-SEAT. Reserved tickets are $25. General admission seats are $15. Student tickets will be sold at the gate for $10.

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