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TOP COLLEGE BOX LACROSSE TEAMS DESCEND ON UTICA FOR NCBS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

In college box lacrosse, the Royals have become the gold standard. Having won two titles in two seasons, the San Diego team embarks on the 2023 National Collegiate Box Series (NCBS) National Championship with an opportunity to extend their historic run.

The 2023 event will feature an expanded field of eight clubs trying to claim college box lacrosse’s national title. The tournament runs from Sunday, August 13, through Wednesday, August 16, in Utica, NY, at The Utica University Nexus Center. In 2022, six teams competed in San Jose, but this summer, clubs from San Diego, San Jose, Columbus, Denver, Buffalo, Rochester, Connecticut, and the DC Area are poised to showcase their talents in front of National Lacrosse League general managers, coaches and scouts.

AUGUST 3: UCBLL :: Rapids v Hawkeyes :: (Photo by Micheline Veluvolu)

“I am looking forward to this event taking the next step and providing a great stage for these talented American players to compete on,” said Royals head coach Cam Holding. “There is so much athleticism in our league, and I am excited to showcase it over a four-day period. As for the Royals, we are looking forward to the new structure and playing in a great venue. We know the games will be tight and look to be disciplined to earn a spot in the semifinals.”

The Royals of the California Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (CACBLL) are back in the National Championship for the third time in three seasons behind the goaltending of Caleb Mackie. Miles Botkiss and Marquez White also return for the two-time defending champs. Botkiss collected five goals and one assist in the 2022 NCBS Finals.

The Royals are in Pool B with the Buffaloes (UCBLL), Chesapeake Bird Dogs and the Red Hawks. The Chesapeake Bird Dogs advanced to Utica as the Mid Atlantic Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (MACBLL) champion. The Colorado Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (CCBLL) is sending the Red Hawks.

The Red Hawks’ roster is packed with players from each of the four CCBLL teams, including seven players from CCBLL champion Stoneflies. Josh Carlson, who led the Stoneflies with 28 goals and eight assists, is one of the team’s players to watch. He joins CCBLL leading scorer John Alie, who notched 40 goals and 10 assists.

“I am beyond excited. This is one of the greatest opportunities to show your skill set and prove that box lacrosse has grown in the US, especially Colorado,” said Carlson, who will play in his second straight National Championship. “We are looking to showcase the talent we have on our team.”

The Buffaloes are also an all-star team, rostering players from the Buffaloes, Rapids and Armory of the UCBLL. Austin Blumbergs will be a key player for Ron Cogan’s team. He led the Buffaloes with 10 goals and was tied for a team-best 18 points. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bandits 88th overall in the 2022 NLL Entry Draft.

JUNE 22: UCBLL :: Buffaloes v Armory :: (Photo by Micheline Veluvolu)

Cogan, who coached Armory to the 2021 NCBS Finals, is back behind the bench at Nationals. His Armory team finished one win away from reaching the UCBLL Finals this year.

“I couldn’t be more excited to get this tournament started. I am very honored to be able to be a part of this great event,” he said. “I am also excited to watch the other talent coming in from around the country. To see so many different types of players under one roof will be something special.”

The Chesapeake Bird Dogs are the second team from the DMV to advance to the National Championship after the Grays played at last year’s event. They are powered by Mic Kelly, who scored five goals in the MACBLL Championship, and Daniel Kelly, who posted five goals in the title game. The newest NCBS league has now had a year to plan and prepare for some of the top teams in the country.

“Nationals have grown every year, and 2023 will be the breakout year,” said General Manager Rich Hodge. “We are thrilled to participate in such a classy event. Look for the Bird Dogs to bring our unique brand of offense and fast-paced defense to the Nexus Center.”

Pool A features the Northern California Dragons and the champions of the Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (Hawkeyes), the Connecticut Collegiate Box Lacrosse League champs (Generals), and the Ohio Collegiate Box Lacrosse League’s top team (Guardians).

The Dragons will rely on the play of a pair of Cali*Lax ALL-STARS, Patrick McIntosh and AJ Mercurio. Hailing from San Jose, the Dragons are making their first appearance in the tournament and are eager to make a statement this year. The Dragons split a series against the two-time defending champion Royals this summer.

“We have lost two consecutive years in the CACBLL Championship to the eventual NCBS Champions, the Royals,” said Dragons head coach Shaydon Santos. “Many of our players have been playing in the USBOXLA system since they were Pee Wees. Our team can compete at the NCBS National Championship and is a true representation of American box lacrosse development.”

Only two teams from last year qualified for Nationals in Utica, the Royals and Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes are one of the top contenders in Pool A, having advanced to the 2022 semifinals. The Hawkeyes won the UCBLL’s Mearns Cup title for the second straight season and won a league-record 10 games. Zachary Terry was named Hawkeyes MVP as he became only the third player in UCBLL history to reach 100 career points. Goalie John Jacobs is backstopping the team again, finishing 4-0 with a league-best 8.00 goals-against average and a .786 save percentage.

Generals award winners

“I am looking forward to a high level of competition and seeing what all the work we’ve put in can help us achieve or see where we can get to in this tournament,” said Terry. “We are a great team, and I’m looking forward to this week.”

The Generals are the CTCBLL representative after denying the Revolution a return trip to the National Championship. The Constitutional Cup champs are bolstered by CTCBLL First Team member Colin Sharkey; Chris Crapanzano, who played with Team Poland at the World Championships in San Diego; and goalie Cam Pilon, who is declaring for the NLL Draft.

“I am very excited,” said Sharkey. “The ability to go out and challenge myself against some of the best players in the country is unique and a challenge I look for too. I hope to go out there and take advantage of the moment and perform well individually and as a team.”

The Guardians will make their tourney debut. The Ohio team is primarily made up of the OCBLL champion Guardians but will also have players from Philadelphia and western New York. The Ohio league is the second oldest in the NCBS family and has seen a tremendous rise in box lacrosse since its first season in 2019.

“The OCBLL is thrilled to again attend the NCBS,” said the Director of the OCBLL, Tyler Phister. “The growth we’ve seen through the box lacrosse game in the Midwest is second to none. Having the privilege to compete against the nation’s best is something we do not take for granted, and we look forward to the opportunity.”

The opening game is a Sunday noon showdown between the Royals and the Buffaloes. Pool play ends Monday, with the top two teams from each pool advancing to Tuesday’s semifinals. The winners will play in the NCBS Finals Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

Fans can catch the game and every other contest online via the NLL YouTube Channel. The games will also be live-scored and appear on NCBS.tv.

Tickets for the event can be purchased here.

 

SUNDAY, AUGUST 13

TIME TEAM 1 TEAM 2
12 p.m. Royals Buffaloes
2 p.m. Generals Hawkeyes
4 p.m. Dragons Guardians
6 p.m. Buffaloes Redhawks
8 p.m. Royals Bird Dogs

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 14

TIME TEAM 1 TEAM 2
8 a.m. Dragons Generals
10 a.m. Guardians Hawkeyes
12 p.m. Buffaloes Bird Dogs
2 p.m. Royals Red Hawks
4 p.m. Dragons Hawkeyes
6 p.m. Generals Guardians
8 p.m. Redhawks Bird Dogs

 

TUESDAY, AUGUST 15

TIME TEAM 1 TEAM 2
10 a.m. Pool 1 – 4th place Pool 2 – 4th place
12 p.m. Pool 1 – 3rd place Pool 2 – 3rd place
2 p.m. Semi-Final – Pool 2 – 1stPlace Semi-Final – Pool 1 – 2nd Place
4 p.m. Semi-Final – Pool 1 – 1stPlace Semi-Final – Pool 2 – 2nd Place

 

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16

TIME TEAM 1 TEAM 2
10 a.m. CHAMPIONSHIP CHAMPIONSHIP
12 p.m. Event Ends
NLL