Soldotna and Kenai face off at the Lacrosse field on Sunrise in Soldotna.
The Central Peninsula Lacrosse Club is finishing up their third Lacrosse season and according to Soldotna Coach and club supporter Scott Cunningham the sport is growing in popularity, “We’ve seen increased interest in Lacrosse and the challenge has been to fit a program schedule into all the other activities, so we’ve opted for an end of the school year program and have fielded teams at Kenai and Soldotna Middle Schools so we are enjoying the traditional cross town rivalry this season that started in April and ends May 18th,” said Cunningham. The teams have been practicing Monday through Wednesday with games on Thursday and Friday.
According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia Lacrosse was invented by Native North Americans and named lacrosse by early French observers.
In the Native North American version, each team consisted of about 100 to 1,000 men on a field that stretched from about 500 yards to a couple of miles long. These lacrosse games lasted from sun up to sun down for two to three days and the games were played to settle inter-tribal disputes, to toughen young braves in preparation for future combat and to give thanks to the Creator. Today Lacrosse is a team sport that is played with either ten players or twelve players, each of whom uses a netted stick (the crosse) in order to pass and catch a very hard rubber ball with the aim of scoring goals each worth one point traditionally. Lacrosse is Canada’s official national summer sport and is the fastest growing sport in the United States.
Lacrosse is a little known game in Alaska, but according to Cunningham more people are taking notice of the sport, “Attendance at the games is growing and right now we’re in the middle of a five game series and we’ll proclaim the winner in the best out of five this year’s Lacrosse champions.” Cunningham says lacrosse skills include many fundamentals found in hockey, soccer, basketball, and football where accurate passing and being able to catch the ball are very important. “Kenai has fielded a lot of new players this year, Soldotna has a few more veterans that returned this season, but Kenai is growing and the program is catching on, so we are hopeful that the sport is catching on,” added Cunningham. Cunningham is assisted by hockey veteran coach Vince Redford and says they have been contacted by people in Anchorage several times and that they are discussing fielding a team and traveling to the Peninsula to play down here this summer, “So our hope is to see Anchorage and other outlying areas maybe Homer field a team so we could actually have some increased competition. When that happens we could field an all-star team to travel and play up there. We have several adults who would really like to see a youth lacrosse program take off in Alaska,” said Cunningham.
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