NCAA Championship Weekend is over, and that marks the official end of lacrosse season… if you’re crazy! So you’ve got those “It all happened too fast” blues now that the spring season is over, don’t worry. There are still tons more Championship Weekends happening right meow!
This weekend is a big one for European Lacrosse. No less than Six (6!) Playoff or National Championships are taking place across the continent: ze Germans have Playoffs, and the Dutch, Swiss, Swedish and Baltic Lacrosse Leagues all have their Championships. Plus Bluesfest, the original “Start of Summer” Club Tournament is happening in England.
The competition at National Championships will be fierce, on both the Men’s and Women’s sides. The level of play will be high. All the teams participating will be stacked with National Team players. Guys that are going to Netanya this summer for the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships will be playing with and against many of their National Team teammates throughout Playoffs and Finals. Bottom line, if you love that Championship atmosphere, you’ve got plenty to choose from.
The best record from the whole season decides who goes to Playoffs. Players in all these countries have worked the entire year for this. Most European seasons usually run in two halves; first from around Sept-Nov, with a break for the Holidays, then again February or March-June. So this is the end of a long road for many of these players.
The winners of all these National Championships get invited to the Ken Galluccio Cup, the Official European lacrosse club championships tournament. This is like Champions League for Lacrosse. An astounding 20 teams representing 10 countries competed at the previous installment. This year, the Championship of all Championships expands to three days, September 14-16, 2018 in beautiful Ghent, Belgium, which is less than 100 days from now. Book your tickets, people.
Club Teams in Europe don’t play that many games, so each game is more special and more important. Depending on league structure and travel requirements, some teams might only play 8 or 10 games over the course of the whole year. With Playoffs and Finals that’s just 15 games. So, these games are HUGE for all these teams and players! All those cold, wet nights in January and February come down to this weekend.
Let’s take a quick look at the events, shall we?
DEUTSCHE LACROSSE PLAYOFFS
Herren – Berlin, Germany
Damen – Hannover, Germany
Ze Germans have had a well-established and organized national league for almost 25 years. Playoffs are so big here, they host them in two separate locations on the same weekend.
This year, the top eight Men’s Teams will all gather to compete in Berlin, while the top eight Women’s Teams will hold their Playoffs in Hannover.
The teams that win two of their three games this weekend will become the Final Four to go through to the Deutsche Meisterschaft in Dortmund on June, 23-24.
In most years, the Playoff locations are close enough that power-house clubs like Hamburg and Munich, with both men’s and women’s teams competing, will drive 2-3 hours to support their counterparts. Last year, the Munich men drove from Hamburg in their Lederhosen (the authentic, expensive kind) to support their women’s team in Hannover. Singing and beer included.
Herren Playoffs will be Live Streamed here and you should definitely check that out!
NEDERLAND LACROSSE FINALEWEEKEND
Ossendrecht, The Netherlands
The Dutch pack their Playoffs and Championships in a two-day event. The First Division (“Hoofdklasse”) Semi-Finals for Men and Women on Saturday, Finals on Sunday. They also have two promotion/relegation games.
One of the Dutch women’s teams is also playing a scrimmage against the Ghent Gazelles, a Belgian Women’s team vying for a spot in the Dutch National League next season.
There will be a one day Youth Tournament on Sunday. In total that’s 8 Men’s Teams, 12 Women’s Teams, and 3 youth teams competing. On top of that, most of the Referees working the games this weekend will also be heading to Netanya this summer to officiate in the World Championships. Quality stuff!
Ossendrecht is in the very far south of the Netherlands, just north of Antwerp, which is actually in Belgium. It’s at the opposite end of the country from Amsterdam, the Hague, and the original Haarlem.
If you can’t make it over for Finaleweekend, The Lowlands Tournament is coming up June 29-July 1 in Amsterdam. That’s another of the famous Summer Tournaments in Europe. Highly Recommended.
SWISS LACROSSE FINALS
If you’re feeling a more mountainous vibe, the Swiss are hosting their Championship weekend in Fribourg, northeast of Geneva. This beautiful Swiss city has one of the best maintained Old Cities in Switzerland, and sits above the beautiful Sarine River valley.
The Swiss are serious about development. They are committed to growing their pool of National Team players by focusing on building clubs and teams. The past few years, they’ve hosted some great events, including a Box Lacrosse League.
Their Championship Weekend will follow a similar format to the Dutch, with Semifinals (or “Halbfinale”) on Saturday, with Finals on Sunday for both the Men’s and Women’s First Teams.
More information and a Live Stream you can, and should, watch!
SWEDISH CHAMPIONSHIPS – “SVENSKA MÄSTERSKAP”
This weekend, the Swedes will also decide their Men’s, Women’s and Junior Champions. 4 Women’s Teams, 4 Junior Teams and 6 Men’s Teams will play 20 games on three fields in Linköping, about 2 hours southwest of Stockholm.
Fun Fact: Referees and Umpires from six different countries will be on hand to officiate the games. The Women’s Tournament will be played according to the FIL Trial Rule Amendments. So, that means the women’s teams will be playing 10-v-10, the same number of players as the men, instead of the traditional 12-on-12 for women’s lacrosse, with 3 players from each team on the Draw Circle. Exciting times.
BALTIC LACROSSE LEAGUE
The Baltic Lacrosse League will play their finals this weekend in Helsinki, with teams from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Russia competing.
This is the third weekend of games for this league. Because of travel restrictions, and teams and players coming from all over this small but incredibly beautiful corner of the world, the teams have all agreed to play their season in three weekends, like mini tournaments. The first weekend was in Riga, Latvia, second in Tallinn, Estonia, now in Helsinki, Finland. These are seriously great places to travel.
This league format is a great one for teams with long travel distances that make playing games once a week logistically or economically unfeasible. Similar formats have been used in Norway and the newly revived Danube Lacrosse League that spans Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary.
Don’t forget about Bluesfest 2018! This is the official/unofficial “Start of Summer” Tournament that marks the beginning of the European Summer Tournament Circuit. There are costumes involved, lots of short games throughout the day, plus camping. Many of the European tournaments have a separate field where players can pitch a tent, or park a “Caravan” for a few days. It’s something US tournaments can learn from. Car Camping + Costumes + Competition is a recipe for a pretty good time. Just ask the British.
It’s not actually in London. It’s South London. Old Walcountian Blues Sports Club in Bamstead. Near Surrey. It all sounds very British. But it’s also a very nice place to spend a weekend and have some fun.
— Blues Lacrosse (@BluesLax) June 10, 2017
What Else, Ryan?
After Bluesfest in London, there’s the Berlin Open, Prague Cup, Lowlands in Amsterdam, Lisboa Lacrosse Cup, plus dozens of other smaller tournaments in places you might like to go visit.
And then of course the whole world will be descending on Netanya in Israel for the 2018 World Championships from July 12th – 21st. Don’t miss that one!
No need to worry that the NCAA season is over. There’s plenty more action going on around the globe!