Editor’s Note: Please welcome Patrick Neddrie to LAS. I met Patrick down at the Mardi Gras Tourney last year through my brother and the New Orleans Lacrosse Club. He is a great guy, a great photographer and he loves lax. We’ve heard from Knox “Cajun’s Corner” Hutchinson about the North Shore Turf War so let’s get Patrick’s take on things.
In Louisiana, it’s hard to find anything hotter than the temperature. This summer, however, lacrosse might have taken over as the bayou state’s hottest thing going. Ten years ago, you were more likely to see a goalie stick being used to catch shrimp than to stop shots, but all that has changed. An unprecedented growth in the sport has taken place here over the past five years, and the North Shore Turf War presented by Quickstick Lacrosse put that development on full display.
The tournament was billed as being box lacrosse, but the way things were set up, it was as if somebody took the rules of box and field, put them in a gumbo pot with tons of hot sauce, and left it on the stove overnight. The field was regular box size, but the goals were field lacrosse size, which allowed for ridiculous scores despite the 18-minute halves. Each team was allowed five players and a goalie, with one player forced to stay on offense and defense. Oh, and get this: one longpole was allowed on each team. Yeah, sounds like some good ole Louisiana gumbo mash-up lax.
Despite the quirky rules and the difficulty some had adjusting to them, the tournament was a blast. The four participating teams were:
- Old School Lax – An assortment of old guys, ranging in age from kinda old to really old, with all sorts of oldness in-between.
- New Orleans Lacrosse Club (NOLC) – A group of players living in New Orleans, consisting of longtime residents and reverse-refugees (people who moved to NOLA after Katrina).
- Mandeville Sharpshooters – Mandeville High School’s lacrosse team. Mandeville is about 45 minutes north of New Orleans.
- Team Quickstick – A South Louisiana High School All-Star team, which recently took 3rd place in a national high school club tournament.
Once the games got underway, a decided pecking order came to light. NOLC, with its young talent, experienced veterans, and several seasons’ worth of intramural indoor league under its belt, clearly outclassed the rest of the playing field. In what was to be a preview of the championship, NOLC easily defeated Old School Lax 14-8. Despite Tim Trahan’s mad faceoff skills and Austin Speni’s fantastic outside shooting, the Old Schoolers could not hang with NOLC’s transition game and ability to find open men on the crease.
As he would do all tournament long, Canadian-born New Orleans transplant Marc Michaud racked up the points by getting wide open right in front of the goal and making sure to never ever use his left (a deadly sin in the world of Canadian lacrosse).
Sixty-one year old certified veteran/borderline senior citizen Phil Niddrie dazzled the crowd on countless occasions with his patented, ballet-like “whirling dervish” move, leaving defenders unsure of whether they were embarrassed by being beaten by such an old man, or honored to have been schooled by the Louisiana lax legend. Louis LaCour, playing in his last few games with NOLC before heading up to Philly for his rookie year at Cabrini, provided the speedy transitions, shifty moves, and stellar goals that made him such a prized recruit coming out of Jesuit HS.
The following game pitted an All-Star team against a newly started program, and the first half underscored that disparity. Team Quickstick jumped out to a 9-0 halftime lead, but to their credit, Mandeville never gave up and matched Quick Stick’s goals in the second half, for a final score of 15-6.
Coming off of their big win, Team Quickstick was full of confidence as they took on the Old Guys. The Old Guys lead 9-6 at halftime, and the game got closer when the Quicksticks narrowed the score to 11-10; however, experience was the difference in the end as the Oldies pulled away in the last minutes for a 16-12 victory.
Saturday’s final game saw the NOLC Jesters taking on the Mandeville Sharpshooters. The results of the previous games led NOLC to believe it would be an easy victory, but Mandeville had their minds set on an upset. Right out of the gate, Mandeville took advantage of NOLC’s cockiness and started slapping them around a bit. Up 3-1, however, Mandeville could not hold on to their early lead, and NOLC went on to win easily 18-4.
Sunday’s games told the same story of the teams’ hierarchy. The Old Guys beat Mandeville 17-7, and NOLC sent Team Quickstick home with their quicksticks between their legs with a 22-5 whipping. The results of the round robin meant that NOLC and the Old Guys would meet up again in the final. To read a recap of that game, just go back a few paragraphs, because the action was very similar to Saturday’s matchup between the two teams. Final result: New Orleans Lacrosse Club 19, Old Guys 7. NOLC Captain Paul Johnson said his team was victorious thanks to the club “playing team ball, getting the ball around, getting it to the open guy, and setting picks. It was just a lot of good movement out there.”
Results aside, a great time was had by all. The tournament made for a terrific christening of Playmakers Indoor Sports, the North Shore’s brand new, state-of-the-art facility. With the current growth of the sport in Louisiana, and the possibility of this tournament becoming the first of a series of club tournaments, Gulf Coast lacrosse is now officially hotter than Tabasco.
About the author: Patrick Niddrie is a photographer, videographer, and entrepreneur from New Orleans. He played his college ball at LSU, and has played with the Melbourne and Amsterdam Lacrosse Clubs. He currently plays with the New Orleans Lacrosse Club. Check out his virtual tours and photography at www.trueviewimages.com and www.flickr.com/patrickniddrie.