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Open Mike Column: Frontier boys lax putting in the time in effort to play with best of WNY

Brandon May and his Frontier teammates have played a great deal in the offseason in preparation for competing against WNY\'s top teams. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
Officially, the end of the high school boys lacrosse season in June until the beginning of practices in spring of 2013 in March marks the offseason, a time of mostly inactivity in the sport.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of lacrosse being played around Hamburg.

The program at Hamburg is synonymous with playing year-round and using that offseason work to continue a tradition of excellence established within the program.

During this offseason, Frontier was just as active. Most of the same varsity group now on the field this spring was playing together in 11 tournaments and on Mondays, went down to the reservation to play box lacrosse.

Falcons’ head coach Chris Stack wanted to see his team stay busy playing lacrosse not only to bridge a gap so that his inexperienced team could still compete at a high level this season, but also move closer to the level of the Hamburgs and dominant fellow Class A teams Orchard Park and Clarence.

“It’s helped because of how inexperienced we are,” Stack said. “We’ve fast-tracked where we are now.”

Included in those tournaments was a unique lacrosse competition played over the holiday break in December, which pitted four Buffalo-area teams playing against four Rochester-area teams at Sahlen’s Sports Park in East Aurora.

Frontier, along with a team from Hamburg, Timon and an all-star squad representing some of the areas best programs, went against four of Section V’s best in Fairport, Irondequoit, Pittsford and Webster Thomas over a full-day of competition called the inaugural I-90 Interstate Invitational.

Stack and Hamburg head coach Jerry Severino organized putting together the tournament in just a short period of time as the two prepped their teams for 2013 season play.

While teams like Frontier work to play with the best in WNY, Hamburg and some of the top Section VI powers are seeing where it stacks up against the Rochester teams.

Section VI proved there is still some work to be done to better its Section V counterparts after the Rochester-area teams came into Hamburg last year and swept all three Far West Regional games.

Stack believes if this tournament was any indication, Section VI could be well on its way. He said Section VI won more games than V — Timon went undefeated and Hamburg was 2-1.

“Buffalo teams are starting to get on par with the Rochester teams,” Stack noted.

Even more importantly, these Section VI teams will continue to have this measuring stick competition. The tournament is slated to run again next year and for years to come after it went over very well for all that participated. It may be even bigger next year.

Stack said the teams from Section V told him that they don’t have a similar facility in the area so they would be in favor of being invited back and continuing this invitational.

“Some great lacrosse was played that day and we think it’s a go for next year,” Stack said. “Sahlens appreciated what we did, and now Jerry and I can make it an even better event with more time to plan.”

Hamburg to host Syracuse-area team

Also measuring themselves against teams from around the state, even further east than Rochester, will be the Hamburg girls lacrosse team.

Last year, head coach Katy Ryan took her team to play a game at East Rochester and hosted Rush Henrietta, coming up with one win. This season, she’ll host a Syracuse-area team in providing the Bulldogs more of a taste of lacrosse from around the state.

Auburn will visit Hamburg’s Howe Field on Saturday, April 13. Usually a top team in the Syracuse-area, Auburn finished in the middle of the pack last season and now has a new coach.

The two got into contact before the season, and Ryan seized the opportunity to broaden her team’s horizons with some solid new competition.

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