A Sports Championship Comes To Philadelphia

The Barrage are champs!
Well, they’ve done it for the second time in their three years in Philly: the Barrage handily defeated the Denver Outlaws 23-12 on Sunday to capture the Major League Lacrosse title for 2006. I’m sure many “real” Philly fans will argue that this title doesn’t “count” against the 23 year championship drought that Philadelphia has been suffering through (heck, they make the same argument against the Wings who have won four titles in their tenure in Philly and the Kixx, who won one), but I say to heck with ’em. I honestly think that the entire city has enough of an inferiority complex that they would find a way to whine and complain unless the Sixers, Phillies, Eagles and Flyers all managed to win a championship in the same calendar year.
Me, I’m going to enjoy some underappreciated teams and root for the Barrage at a bunch of home games next year. Congratulations to the Barrage players, coaches and staff – well played.

Leapin’ Lizards! The Barrage Win!

Lizards-Barrage banner 2
My youngest brother Reid and I made our way over to Villanova University Thursday night to catch the game between the Philadelphia Barrage and the Long Island Lizards. The Barrage were victorious, eking out a 10-8 victory. We had quite a bit of fun cheering the home team on, enough so that I think I may make it a point to get out to a few more games next season (well, now that I know that the team even exists, that is).
The major league incarnation of game itself is largely the same one that I played in high school and college, with a few small variations.

  1. The restraining box has been replaced by a basketball-like “key” inside of which all players are restrained prior to a face-off; this area also delineates a 2 point line similar to the 3 point variant in basketball, where all shots taken from outside the line are worth two goals instead of the regular one.
  2. Teams are restricted to three longstick defenders per roster.
  3. A 60 second shot clock was put in place. The clock is reset on change of posession, a score or when a shot bounces off the goalie or the goal itself.
  4. All players are released on a face-off (in high school and collegiate lacrosse, defensemen and attackmen must wait inside the restraining box until one of the midfielders takes posession of the ball).

Philly BarrageAnd that’s pretty much it. The pace of the game is definitely quick and the skill level of the players was impressive – there were very few missed passes and their handling of ground balls would make most young players green with envy. Their professionalism, however, didn’t seem to carry through into on-field behavior, as there were a lot of penalties handed out. I could have understood a lot of technical fouls or perhaps even a few slashings, etc., but I swear the refs handed out 5 or 6 unsportsmanlike fouls, including one 2 minute offense. Both teams seemed to suffer from an overabundance of unchecked emotion and several of the “revenge”-type fouls ended up giving the opposing team man-up advantages that led directly to goals.
The crowd of around 3,000 seemed to be comprised of primarily families which warmed this old lacrosse hand’s heart – it seemed pretty obvious that lacrosse is catching on in a big way in the Philly metro area.
All in all, the experience was a fun one – Reid and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. I think I’ll be making a habit of attending Barrage home games next year – at $10 a ticket, it’s a steal.

A Literal Philadelphia Barrage

Barrage LogoNow this is just wickedly cool. I was cruising around the National [Indoor] Lacrosse League’s website in search of some Minnesota Swarm merchandise when I thought to myself “Self, didn’t you see a professional outdoor lacrosse game being played on one of the ESsPeNs?” A hop, skip and a Google later, I was at the virtual home of Major League Lacrosse, and what should meet my eyes but a link to the Philadelphia Barrage! They’ve apparently been playing in Villanova’s stadium for the last two seasons and appear to have at least two more home games remaining.
I think I may try to get out to one of those games and at least pick me up a literal Barrage ballcap or something. And a note to the Barrage team owners: can you spell “merchandising opportunity”? Here I am, a (very!) middlin’ blogger right in your back yard, blogging under a banner that practically screams your team name. What’s a blogger got to do to score some free tix and a jersey or two?