The US Lacrosse Women's Division National Tournament is returning to its roots this weekend in Baltimore, where the first women's lacrosse team in the United States was started in 1926 at Bryn Mawr.
The tournament, which began in 1933 and is one of the largest women's lacrosse events in the nation with more than 1,500 players, was hosted by Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., for the past seven years. Ann Kitt Carpenetti, women's division director for US Lacrosse, said the event's proximity to this weekend's NCAA Division I women's lacrosse championship at Towson University should help boost college recruiting at the event.
"Our high school committee is really keen on trying to bring this tournament nearby to the NCAA Division I championships because the strongest part of this tournament now is the Schoolgirls Division," Carpenetti said. "That part of the tournament is the recruiting portion. Because college coaches can't recruit on the days of the NCAA championship that is taking place [today] and Sunday, the thought was if we bring it close enough to Towson, the coaches will come to recruit. And for the girls participating in that part of the tournament, there will be some added value."
The event was last held in the Baltimore area in 1998.
Some of the top players from the Baltimore area that have competed in the event include Sheehan Stanwick, a graduate of Notre Dame Prep and a four-time All American at Georgetown; Megan Bosica, a two-time All-Metro Player of the Year at Mount Hebron and a member of North Carolina's lacrosse team; and Mary Key, a two-time high school First Team All-American at St. Mary's who also earned All-America honors at Johns Hopkins.
"All the best in the game have come through this tournament from the women's side," Carpenetti said.
Another one of the top players who passed through the tournament was Valerie Walchak, a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Walchak, who played at West Chester University and has been a coach for more than 21 years in the Philadelphia area, has been involved with the tournament since the 1960s and was instrumental in getting high school players involved.
"I brought them in to show them there was life beyond high school and life beyond college with the sport," Walchak said. "What has happened is the schoolgirls tournament has grown exponentially."
One of the marquee events is a game between the U.S. Women's National Team and the Canadian National Team tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at McDonogh.
This year's tournament is being divided into four levels of play:
The Schoolgirls Division features high school players from various regions who will compete at McDonogh tomorrow and Sunday.
Senior Only Division features only high school seniors graduating this spring. A committee placed the players on the teams, which will compete at St. Paul's School for Girls tomorrow and Sunday.
Regional Club Division consists of about six teams composed of college and post-collegiate players who are not competing for a spot on the U.S. National Team. All of these games will be played at St. Paul's tomorrow and Sunday.
The Stars & Stripes Division is for players competing for a spot on the U.S. National Team. These games will be played at St. Paul's on Sunday and Monday.
Saturday: Games begin at 8 a.m. at McDonogh and St. Paul 's School for Girls. Senior-Only All-Star Game, 5 p.m., McDonogh; U.S. Women's National Team vs. Canada, 6:30 p.m., McDonogh.
Sunday: Schoolgirls Division Championship, 3:45 p.m., McDonogh.