BY GENE NARDI
The Palm Beach Blast Lacrosse Tournament took place last weekend at Village Park on Pierson Road and the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington in an effort to promote one of the country’s fastest-growing sports.
“We’re in our eighth year, and we just grew so much, we needed to find a larger site,” tournament director Tom West said. “This is our fourth year in Wellington. The location is great and the fields are beautiful.”
West and co-director Jeff Goldberg operate Team Florida Lacrosse, a premier travel lacrosse developmental program that prepares players to compete in top-level competitions around the country.
Team Florida Lacrosse is based in St. Augustine and coordinates tournaments across the state for both boys and girls. “This is our most southern tournament,” West added. “We’ve drawn from as far south as Miami and as far north as Jacksonville.”
Last year, the tournament drew in approximately 70 teams, but this year surpassed expectations by attracting 110 teams in all, from U9 to AA-U19. Teams were broken down into A and B divisions.
The tournament guaranteed five games to play, with pool play kicking off the competition. Teams then advanced into bracket play, which would crown a tournament champion in each age division. Many teams in the tournament were from the Palm Beach County area, including the Wellington Lacrosse Club, which brought four teams, two U11s, a U13 and a U15.
“Our goal with the tournament series was to provide the opportunity for kids to play at a higher level without having to leave the state to compete,” West said.
Operating the northern training site is West, and Goldberg runs the southern site in Boca Raton. With the tournament growing each year, West has already committed to the Blast returning to Wellington for its fifth year next year.
To find out more about Team Florida Lacrosse or the Palm Beach Blast, visit www.teamfloridalax.com.
ABOVE: A Wellington Lacrosse Club U11A attacker finds room to advance the ball in a semifinals match against the Palm Beach Revolution.