After being officially announced this past April at the Ales Hrebesky Memorial, the inaugural Frank Menschner Cup is quickly approaching! Things will kick off in Radotín on September 1st and the first ever team to hoist the FM Cup will be crowned that Saturday evening. It’s exciting stuff!
Before we can talk about the Cup, we need to talk about the Man.
Frank Menschner was a hero to the sport, and was pivotal in helping grow box lacrosse domestically in the United States. Shortly after the Ales Hrebesky Memorial in 2015, Frank was taken from us far too soon. This past year in Prague, the tournament was lively and the spirit of the game lives on, but Frank’s absence was impossible to ignore.
The first year I made it over the pond to play in Prague, it was made pretty clear that Frank was one of the good guys who really had seen it all and you could see the love for the game radiating from Frank. The only thing that can be done about losing one of the good guys, is to keep his spirit and his memory alive. Every time you lace up the shoes and put the helmet on, you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for all of those who’ve come before you. This first weekend in September, we’ll be playing in Frank’s memory.
Josh Potter did an amazing job detailing Frank’s connection to this small Czech town in his post Frank Menschner Lives On In Radotín, and Beyond. It’s well worth a read.
I’m lucky enough to say I’ll be at this tourney, and I’m beyond elated.
When they announced this new event, I was initially pretty bummed that I wouldn’t be able to make it. One trip to Europe every Spring is heavy enough on my finances. A second? Impossible. Then I found out we (Lax All-Stars) would be covering the European Championships. A month of days separated the Euro Championships from the Frank Menschner Cup, so I figured, hey, if I’m already over there, I’ll stick around. And stick around I did.
From Prague, I’ll head stateside, hit up the LaxAllStars.com North American Invitational in Syracuse, and then maybe I’ll finally get some sleep.
But for now, from a kitchen table in Barcelona, I’m looking at the nine registered teams signed up for this first ever holding of the event. Rosters aren’t solidified, and I quite honestly don’t know much about some of the teams that will be attending. However, a lack of reliable information has not, and will never, keep me from my wild speculation.
Without further ado, let’s talk Frank Menschner Cup Preview! Here are the nine teams coming!
Frank Menschner Cup – Team Preview
LCC Radotín (CZE) – The HOME TEAM. The CUSTODES! If you’re into box lacrosse, you know about these fellas. The cats can ball, and they love running the ball down your throat in front of a thousand cheering fans. The Czech style of speed, lightning ball movement, and brilliant transition play is an awesome thing to see in action. I’ve watched it from the stands, and I’ve seen it up close and personally on the floor. These guys don’t mess around, and the chemistry of playing together all the time is going to prove difficult to top for any club looking to hoist the cup.
M&M’s Menschner Men (USA) – You can’t have the Menschner Cup without some east coast boys coming over to try and win it! I’ll be suiting up with these guys for the weekend, and I honestly couldn’t be more excited. We’ve got a very American core group of guys, as well as a couple of Germans filling up a couple last minute roster spots. The roster is a very experienced one, and a number of the guys have played a lot of ball together in the PBLA and other box lacrosse leagues up and down the East Coast. I haven’t played with anyone on the roster before, so I’ll be running harder than ever to earn my keep and to respect the name on my uniform.
Chocolax (SUI) – The Swiss boys are rapidly becoming one of my favorite programs. Field and box alike, the Swiss are everywhere. I first saw Swiss jerseys in box lacrosse in 2015 at the European Invitational. They weren’t playing great box lacrosse, but they were working like dogs to get better. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it other than “good on you for being here”. Then I watched a couple of WILC games via the live stream. I was living in Australia at the time, but I remember telling my friends that the Swiss weren’t winning games, but they were greatly improving! After a brilliant 6 th place finish in the European Championships, I’m just over the moon for the quick progress this team has been able to accomplish.
DreadLax (ENG) – This is one of those groups I’m not too familiar with. I do know that they’re a traveling club team that frequently has good showings at the Berlin Open, Blues Fest, Zombies Cup, and a number of other European tournaments. They play great ball on the floor/field, and they’re great guys off it as well. I know that their goalkeeping will be a solid constant, and they’ll have some real size on defense as well. I do know they’ll have some inexperienced players as well, so I’m not really quite sure what the DreadLax boys will look like on the scoreboard, but if past results are any indicator, they shouldn’t be overlooked too quickly.
LC Pardubice (CZE) – Alright. This one I don’t know anything about, nor am I sure how to pronounce it. All I know is that they’re one of the smaller Czech teams that has been absent from the AHM for a number of years. A little digging shows that these fellas did make it to the final of the 2016 Czech Box league this past year, but were beaten in a convincing fashion by the Custodes. If the style and ability of the more prominent Czech clubs are any indicator as to how Pardubice will do, then I’m sure I’ll be pleasantly surprised and in all likelihood will be wondering exactly what just happened from the comfort of that hometown Radotin turf.
Wolves (CZE) – The Wolves are the Custodes feeder program, for lack of a better term. Some of the top Czech U19 kids and future Czech National team players start out as Wolves before going to other teams. The vast majority play for LCC when they’ve gotten good enough, with other players going on to play for Jizni Mesto and TJ Malesice. I’ve played with some of the Wolves prodigies before, and I’ve played against some as well. There are a number of bright rising stars in the world of Czech Box Lacrosse, and this team is teeming with talented young kids looking to establish themselves.
Box Monkeys (FIN) – The first name in Finnish box lacrosse is the Turku Titans, but these boys can play just the same. They’ve been giving the Titans tighter and tighter games in the Finnish box league. This is another team I don’t know a great deal about, but seeing Box Monkeys hats on a number of Finnish players at the Euros after their bronze medal performance, I’m sure they’ll be there to play. Finnish box is power moves and pick and roll precision. Chemistry is a big factor for the Box Monkeys. I think that recent European Championships success, as well as the rapid rise of Finnish lacrosse in general, will really pull these boys together and produce an impressive team. To boot, they’re hilarious on Instagram.
Polish Eagles (POL) – I love these guys. At the European Championships I hung around with these boys more than a lot of other teams. That had a lot to do with their attitudes towards lacrosse and how they’re going to improve. They fight hard fights, and they really never give up. The Eagles usually finish pretty close to the bottom of the barrel at the AHM, but that doesn’t stop them from coming and getting better. I’ve played against the Eagles in two of my AHM tournaments, and the team I played first was not the team I played against most recently. Once again, from my back, I was pretty sure that the boys were getting the hang of things. If there’s one thing the Polish don’t have an issue putting on the floor, it’s natural physical size. Offensively they’re coming around slowly but surely, but defense is where the Eagles have really made strides.
TJ Malesice (CZE) – This is one of the premier clubs in the Czech Republic. They don’t get the notoriety that the Custodes get due to the fact they’re not the home team, but that doesn’t change the fact that these boys will surprise anyone. They’ve upended Canadian teams, German squads, and anyone else who was foolish enough to think that they were some sort of second tier team. In 2015, they came within 3 of taking the crown from Radotin, but were unable to upset the Custodes. Every year in Prague it’s pretty fun to grab a schnitzel off the grill, sit up in the stands with the boys, and see which team will be upset by Malesice this year. They knocked off the Istanbul Sultans this year, and came within one of upsetting the Megamen.
I understand there’s just so much going on now, internationally. With more and more international events being added all the time, it’s not difficult to understand that a lot of these clubs simply don’t have the guys to run a team. Below are a couple teams I would’ve expected to be in attendance.
Deutschland Adler (GER) – German box has made great strides. With Germany’s participation in lacrosse at an all-time high, I guess I figured we’d see a team of Germans on the floor.
Jizni Mesto (CZE) – This one doesn’t make sense to me. A Czech Box tournament in Prague, and there aren’t enough guys to put a team on the floor? Maybe they distributed their players out to the other clubs to raise the level of play for this tournament? I’m not sure.
For Fun LC (CZE) – I’m not surprised they aren’t coming, but I wish they were. My good buddies are/were some of the founding players of this club, and I really wish I could see them in action. They are literally conscripted under the idea of having fun, and I’d eventually love to see the purple/yellow/black clown uniforms in action.
Bats Brataslava (SVK) – Another (relatively) local club that has done well in recent AHM tournaments. These guys have a pretty short commute, so I’m assuming it’s the tight turnaround from the European Championships.
Actual Predictions? Ok, FINE!
Everyone’s favorite part. This got me a lot of dirty looks, and some hugs, at the cafeteria in Gödöllö. A couple of guys really were upset after hearing where we predicted they’d place. This is the first time in recent memory I can recall someone caring about what I say! I’ve officially made it!
The following predictions will be based on nothing other than my own intuition and uneducated guesses. Please don’t get too emotionally hurt over it. It’s all for fun, and I love being proven wrong. If you feel feelings about it, please drop me a line and tell me how dumb I am. Or just return me to my favorite place on Earth, laying on my back on the turf in Radotín. That’s always an option.
Top 3 (1-3, duh)
– Menschner Men (USA)
– TJ Malesice (CZE)
– Custodes (CZE)
Middle Group (4-6)
– Box Monkeys (FIN)
– Wolves (CZE)
– Chocolax (SUI)
Bottom 3 (7-9)
– LC Pardubice (CZE)
– Polish Eagles (POL)
– Dreadlax (ENG)
These aren’t finite, and they aren’t in any particular order. For example, I really don’t think DreadLax will finish dead last. I’m not 100% confident in our untested Menschner Men taking down a well-oiled Czech machine like Malesice or the Custodes on their own floor either. We have work to do!
Games to Watch!!!!
The schedule has been released and is available for viewing on the tournament website, fmcup.cz. Quickly glancing at the schedule, the immediate one that catches my eye as being the biggest
heavyweight tilt will be the Menschner Men taking on LCC right after the opening ceremonies on the first day. I had the privilege of playing against the Custodes after opening ceremonies my first year… the crowd atmosphere is just unbelievable.
The other game I’m most curious to see is TJ Malesice against the Box Monkeys. Once again, I don’t know much about the Box Monkeys, and they’ll be able to define themselves with how they perform against a battle-tested Czech team like Malesice.
I’m also curious to see the Wolves and Chocolax play on Friday. The Wolves are historically young and
physically smaller, but can play great Czech box. Matching the Czech culture of skill and knowledge
against Switzerland’s big bodies will give the Swiss a window, and if their progress as a program can
keep on rolling, they might get the win.
There you have it. My complete earnest opinion on every team, predictions, and some key games that you should catch at home streamed live on LCC’s youtube channel, which can be accessed HERE:
LCC Radotin YouTube Channel – Watch LIVE!
I’ve done this all without mentioning a single player by name, and kept allusions to previous scores to a minimum, and obscure speculation at a maximum. The only person named in this article is Frank, and that’s because this is all to honor Frank’s memory. I’m beyond pumped to suit up and do my best to do just that.
See you on the floor, boys!