The 2021 New York State Regional (NYSR) Championship tournament will take place July 20-22. This year’s tournament will be at SUNY Albany, whose men’s team won the America East Conference and made the NCAA semifinals in 2018. It will be the first time UAlbany hosts the tournament.
The tournament covers four high school graduation years, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025, and will include four teams per grade representing six different regions of New York. Each region represents one or two sections of New York high school sports and each team will be coached by some of the best coaches in their region. The boys’ tournament is back for a third straight year and, for the first time, there will be a girls’ tournament. “To be a part of the first girls’ team would be a dream come true,” Tessie Vogt, a member of the class of 2025 in the Western Region said. “Expanding the tournament to include girls advances the sport of lacrosse and will give girl lacrosse players an opportunity that previously did not exist in terms of competing for a NY region.”
Many people were involved in adding the girls to this year’s tournament including one of the Nassau region’s directors Robyn Pastuch. “I played in the Empire Games back in 2003 and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Pastuch said. “I’m absolutely pumped they’re bringing it back on the girls’ side.”
Every team will have a similar schedule throughout the three-day tournament. July 20th will be arrival and check-in day. Each team will also practice on that day and play its first game. The 21st will include three games for each team along with an all-star game for select players in each age group. The tournament will culminate on the 22nd when every team will play its last game and the top teams in each group will compete for their respective championships. Players will then check out and return home with their apparel and lifetime memories.
All games will be covered, and some commentated, allowing more people to join the experience. “It puts another spotlight on our athletes, the more press the better for them,” Pastuch said. “When you can get a group as talented as the ones we have in New York, all together to play against each other in an event like this, nothing but good comes from it.” Along with media, college coaches and scouts will also be in attendance. The tournament will be an opportunity for top New York youth lacrosse players to get exposure. “It is really important to play in front of coaches and show them what I can do,” Central region class of 2023’s Joey Papa said. “Tournaments with college coaches in attendance are very important for those who want to play at the next level and give those the opportunity to get recruited.”
The most exciting part of the tournament for many is regional pride. “Being able to represent the Central region means a lot because it shows who’s the best of the best of all the great players in New York,” Papa said. “I hope to compete in the tournament again this year and show that Central is the best region with the most talent in the state. Roll Tractors!” It’s all about being able to show your love for where you come from. “It means so much to represent my region because it will always be known as home wherever I go and play in college if I get the opportunity to,” Adirondack region class of 2023’s Eric Hennessey said. “The Adirondack region of New York will always be home.” Every part of New York is unique in its own way and each region competes to be the best. “I would be very proud to represent the Western New York region,” Vogt said. “I want people to know that Western New York has one of the best regional lacrosse teams.”
The tournament’s main sponsor will be Epoch Lacrosse. The Minneapolis, MN-based lacrosse equipment manufacturer will outfit each team with gear. Epoch also partners with the Premier Lacrosse League and National Lacrosse League plus multiple college lacrosse teams.
Despite the pandemic, the New York State Regional Championships are back and bigger than ever. Interested players and parents can find tryout dates on the NYSR Lacrosse website. “I feel great about this upcoming summer for the tournament,” Hennessey said. “I feel like it’s a really good opportunity for us as players to really display and see where we stand in the state of New York.”