The third season of the CWC Summer 7v7 Lacrosse League came to a close Tuesday night with Glen Ridge sweeping both the 5/6th grade and 7/8th grade finals at Centennial Field in Verona.
The final games at both grade levels were between Montclair and Glen Ridge. Also in the semi-finals were teams from Caldwell and Mountain Lakes.
The three-year-old CWC Summer 7v7 Lacrosse League was the brainchild of Caldwell native Chris Mergner.
Susy Nichols, director of Caldwell-West Caldwell girls lacrosse and co-organizer of the league, explained, “Mergner envisioned a highly competitive, fast-moving, half-field lacrosse league for the best 7th and 8th grade girls in Caldwell and the surrounding towns to help them prepare for the competitive play they will face in high school.”
The league gives local players another opportunity to play in the off-season. The games are held in Verona at Centennial Field—thanks to an arrangement with Verona lacrosse director Doug Smith—due to a lack of field availability in the Caldwells.
The 7/8th grade league is in its third year, and this year a 5/6th grade level was added. Participating teams include Verona, Caldwell, Montclair, Glen Ridge, West Essex and Mountain Lakes. In the past, Sparta and Cranford have also played. The league is sponsored by Lacrosse Unlimited in Montclair each year.
The Caldwell 7/8th grade team was coached by Angela Giampino-Vasi, the varsity coach, and the 5/6th grade team was coached by Emily Nichols, Kenyon College attack player and former JCHS player.
The girls play two or three half-field 25-minute games under the lights each Monday night beginning in mid-June between 5:30 and 10 p.m. for four consecutive Mondays followed by a Championship night.
"This year, we had about 135 girls participating each night," stated Nichols. "It's a lot of fun and intensely competitive."
Each team earns two points for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss, Nichols explained. The top four teams compete on Championship night in single-elimination games for the title.
“The league is great for the girls and convenient for all involved,” said Jim Schmitt, Glen Ridge 7/8th grade coach. “I think it is a league that certainly could and should be expanded in 2012.”
Montclair coach Rob Bigelow agreed.
“Thanks so much to Verona for hosting and especially to Susy (Nichols) and Chris (Mergner) for organizing this great league,” said Bigelow. “The Montclair kids and parents really enjoyed themselves.”
After three successful seasons, league organizers only expect the league to get bigger in 2012.
CWC Summer 7v7 is hoping to secure field space at the next summer in order to expand the number of players and teams at each grade level, explained Nichols.