Interview w/ Chris O'Donnell, Championship History, Semi Previews
Good morning lacrosse fans! It’s championship week and I couldn’t be more excited. If you want to relive the Quarterfinal action please review my last email.
I have one request. Please show up to the girls championships on Friday and the boys championships on Saturday. Both days will be at Layton High School. Showing support is one way that others will take notice of our strong community and help it to grow. Nothing is given to us, we have to earn it. Show up!
Interview with Brighton Head Coach Chris O’Donnell
Brighton Head Coach Chris O’Donnell
Brighton Head Coach Chris O’Donnell hails from Virginia where he starred in Soccer, Basketball and Lacrosse. O’Donnell went on to play lacrosse at Radford University in Virginia. After graduation he found himself in Utah on a Friday and coaching lacrosse on a Monday. We also talked about the 2021 Bengals who are in the semis as the No. 14 seed. Hope you enjoy the show!
As always, this newsletter is brought to you by Vessel Kitchen.
Let’s take a little jaunt down memory lane!
2019 @ Corner Canyon High School
On May 18, 2019, the Park City boys team won its second straight title and third overall. The Herriman girls captured its first top tier title with a 11-7 win over Park City which was a rematch of the 2018 and 2017 title games. The Herriman girls finally broke through and beat Park City. It was such a great game filled with tons of emotion. The Herriman boys team won the Class B title with a 12-10 win over Pleasant Grove. Judge beat Waterford, 9-7, for the Class C title. The Juan Diego girls beat Corner Canyon, 12-10 to claim the girls Division II title.
2018 @ Skyline High School
May 19, 2018 saw both the boys and girls Park City teams take home the state championship trophy. The Park City boys beat Brighton, 7-6, while the girls beat Herriman, 10-7. Jordan beat Davis, 15-8, in the girls Division II title game. East beat Spanish Fork, 8-3, in the boys Class B game and Mountain Crest beat Ridgeline, 8-7 in overtime, to win the Class C title.
It was fun to see Park City win both the girls and boys titles.
2017 @ Alta High School
On May 20, 2017, Juan Diego beat Brighton, 10-9, in the Class A title game. The Park City girls beat Herriman, 16-8, to claim the Division I title. Olympus beat Weber, 12-8, in the girls Division II title game while Herriman beat Northridge, 11-8, in the boys Class B game and Box Elder beat Timpview, 6-5, in the Class C title game.
2016 @ Brighton High School
On May 21, 2016, Brighton defended its home turf by taking home the boys Class A title with a 8-6 win over Juan Diego. Park City beat American Fork, 16-7, in the girls Division I championship game. The Juan Diego girls team beat Roy, 10-8, in the girls Division II title game while Waterford took home the boys Class B title, 6-2, over Bonneville. Westlake beat rival Lehi, 5-4 in overtime, to claim the Class C title.
A Bubba Fairman led Brighton wasn’t going to be stopped although Juan Diego did its best to try and stop him and the rest of the Bengal offense. The Brighton defense was no slouch either. I remember the Class C title game being packed with emotion since Westlake had just broken off from Lehi.
2015 @ Corner Canyon High School
Editor’s Note: The rest of these were taken from a past post I wrote for Utah Lacrosse News
The crown jewel of lacrosse stadiums took center stage on May 16, 2015 in what would be an excellent day of lacrosse with 3 of the games being decided by one goal and one going to overtime. The day began with Roy taking down Copper Hills, 8-7, in the girls D-II title game. The Girls D-I title was settled in an epic battle between rivals Park City and Brighton. The Miners got the best of the Bengals that day, winning 13-12 in overtime. The newly formed Class C saw Bountiful take down Box Elder, 10-6. Class B saw the No. 6 seed win the Championship when Logan took down Copper Hills, 10-7. The Class A title went to the hosts when the Chargers beat Park City, 9-8.
I loved having it at Corner Canyon, mainly because of the big press box. The Girls D-I game was one for the ages. Such a battle. I remember it being rainy and cold. It was a great day. The Chargers were stacked that year with Zack Franckowiak, Matt Graney, Cole Parkinson, Garrett Bullet, Quinton Mathie and Garrett Michaeli. This was obviously the foundation for what the 2021 version of the Chargers looks like today.
2014 @ Corner Canyon & Park City High Schools
Five champions were be crowed over a Friday and Saturday in what was a great weekend of lacrosse. On Friday, May 16, 2014, Corner Canyon hosted the Utah High School Lacrosse League Championship between Corner Canyon and Brighton. The Bengals would come out on top, 12-10. On Saturday, May 17, 2014, Park City played host. The first game saw Lehi finally break through and get the Girls D-II title, beating Pleasant Grove 7-6. In the Girls D-I, host Park City took down Riverton, 11-8.
In the Boys D-II, Sky View beat Syracuse, 9-3. In the nightcap, Park City took home the D-I crown with a 16-4 win over Herriman.
I remember the UHSLL game on Friday night being absolutely packed. It was a sight to see. I was talking with Brae Burbidge and Renee Tribe about how cool of sight it was. On Saturday I remember Coach Freeman walking off the field in tears again, but this time as a champion. Park City girls finally got the monkey off their back and beat Riverton. Syracuse was missing Connor Meyer which made a big difference in that game. My favorite part from the boys D-I was the post-game interview with Coach Langendorf. So genuine, so much emotion.
2013 @ Copper Hills High School
Copper Hills hosted the 2013 championships which saw some phenomenal games.
In the first game, American Fork beat Lehi, 11-7, for the D-II girls crown. In Girls D-I, Skyline continued its dominance that season, beating Park City, 10-9. Waterford took home the boys D-II title with a 6-4 win over Syracuse. In Boys D-I, Juan Diego went back-to-back, beating Lone Peak, 8-4.
I was honored to be named the ‘Person of the Year’ this year which was truly humbling. It was also my 6th wedding anniversary. We spent it in the North end-zone eating Marley’s Sliders. We laugh about it now but I’m not sure she thought it was funny at the time. I also liked the games at Copper Hills since I lived down the street. American Fork was solid that year. I felt so bad for Coach Freeman as he walked off the field in tears. Skyline was so good that year. The one memory I have from the JD v. LP game was Eric Mika towering over everyone and a Freshman in yellow gloves named Josh Stout for Lone Peak. Wonder what happened to him ;)
2012 @ Brighton High School
Brighton High School During the Boys D-I Championship - Haslam Photography
Brighton High School was the backdrop for one of the best championship days in recent history. Each game was settle by one goal! In Girls D-II, Timpanogos beat Viewmont, 9-8. In Girls D-I, Bingham beat Park City, 12-11 in 3 overtimes. In Boys D-II, Mountain Crest beat Waterford, 11-10. In Boys D-I, Juan Diego beat Alta, 9-8.
It doesn’t get much better than Brighton when it comes to hosting games. This was the year we tried to sell ‘Grow the Game’ t-shirts. That was a mistake, but to those who bought one, thank you. The play on the field couldn’t have been better. It was intense from start to finish. I remember the big ULA logo at midfield that I thought was pretty cool. I remember learning how girls overtime worked… I remember the Mountain Crest v. Waterford game being a brute v. brains type of game. Mountain Crest has some huge athletes that could score at will. Waterford of course, had a strict game plan and played with tempo and finesse as always. Juan Diego had a stellar team that year. Alta had its fair share of studs as well. Amazing game.
2011 @ Park City High School
After a freak rain storm left Westlake High School soaked, Park City stepped up and hosted the championships. In Girls D-II, Waterford beat Viewmont, 7-5. In Girls D-I, Alta beat Bingham, 12-6. In Boys D-II, Spanish Fork beat Timpanogos, 8-7. In Boys D-I, Brighton beat Judge, 8-7.
Honestly, I had never been to a state championship game. I played lacrosse in high school but never quite made it that far. Dave Allen ruined those chances in the 2002 semifinals with strong game plan. Needless to say, I didn’t know what I was in for. I remember feeling bad for the league who had put a ton of time into getting the games at Westlake just to have it cancelled due to rain. My fondest memory from that day was when Spanish Fork Head Coach Phil Dunn held the trophy as tight as he could for as long as he could. It was also the tail end of a back-to-back for Brighton. They were good that year.
Here’s the rest of the boys state championships. If anyone has the girls list, send it to me please!
2010: D-I - Brighton 10 Park City 7, D-II - Timpanogos 7 Spanish Fork 6
2009: D-I - Bountiful 12 Judge Memorial Catholic 6, D-II - Orem 15 Sky View 9
2008: D-I - Bountiful 12 Jordan 6, D-II - Lone Peak 13 Woods Cross 9
2007: D-I - Alta 9 Judge Memorial Catholic 6, D-II - Timpview 10 Logan 9
2006: D-I - Waterford 13 Jordan 12 (OT), D-II - Logan 17 Timpanogos 9
2005 - Skyline 16 Riverton 13
2004 - Waterford 12 Juan Diego Catholic 5
2003 - Waterford 13 Jordan 11
2002 - Alta 9 Judge Memorial Catholic 8 (2OT)
2001 - Judge Memorial Catholic 12 Waterford 11
2000 - Judge Memorial Catholic 13 Waterford 12
1999 - Bingham 9 Highland 6
1998 - Murray over Highland
1997 - Highland over Waterford
1996 - Highland over Orem
1995 - Judge Memorial Catholic over Alta
1994 - Sunnyside over Waterford
I asked ULR Instagram followers to send in questions and thought I’d answer them here. I’ve selected a few of the better questions.
What teams should have been in the Boys Division A bracket? I think it was actually pretty accurate in terms of the teams that were in the A bracket. You could argue Weber could have replaced Skyline but the teams that were there were the Top 16 teams.
Was Lone Peak an underrated team? It’s tricky because they had 6 losses. Now, those 6 losses were all to teams higher than them (Park City, Mountain Ridge, American Fork, Corner Canyon) so they could have been as high as a No. 9 seed. Let’s say they were No. 9, then they are going up against No. 8 American Fork who beat them twice in the regular season. Say that they win that game, then they are playing No. 1 Corner Canyon for the third time. No. 10 seed would have been playing No. 7 Mountain Ridge who they lost to. Maybe they are No. 11 and beat Davis? Okay, then you have to play Farmington/Brighton (in this case Brighton). You win that game, then you’re matched up with… Park City in the semis. TL;DR - You have to play CC or PC at some point if you want to win the title.
Do you think the RPI does teams justice? The RPI itself is doing what it’s supposed to be doing which is using a computer to calculate the best teams. Where teams felt/feel ‘injustice’ is the fact they couldn’t play a difficult schedule because of their regions. Let’s say Farmington plays Bingham, Park City, Green Canyon instead of a second game against Woods Cross, Bonneville, Viewmont and maybe things are seeded different. They would still be a Top 16 team though so all we’re really talking about is a different seed. I understand that seeds matter to teams/players/coaches but the way that I look at it is that you remember when you lost in the playoffs, but no one else does. It’s the title games that most people remember which is why seeds don’t matter because if you’re a top 2 TEAM, no matter the SEED, you’ll be playing in the Championship game.
What’s it going to take to beat Corner Canyon? It’s going to take a perfect game from the opponent and a mistake filled game from the Chargers. Even in that case it’s not a forgone conclusion. Strategy wise it’s to somehow stop an offense with 4-5 guys that are lethal shooters and a defense that doesn’t allow goals.
Favorite game this year? If I’ve kept my records straight, I’ve been to 43 games this year between high school and college. Throw in my daughters 3rd/4th games and it’s close to 50. A couple games standout in no particular order: Brighton v. Olympus girls regular season game on 5/7. Whoever won claimed the Region 6 title. I got there a little after halftime because I was at the boys Oly/Brighton game. It was a battle. Brighton scored with a little over a minute left then their goalie stopped a free position shot as time expired to win. The Weber v. Northridge boys game on 4/27 went to overtime which was fun. I was also at the Timpview v. Mountain Ridge boys game on 4/20 that went to overtime with Mountain Ridge winning 11-10. Farmington v. Wasatch that was a 2 goal win for the Phoenix was another classic game.
Next school to go NCAA D-I in Utah? The age old question. It’s probably going to be UVU. The question is then: when? I think COVID probably derailed any momentum there was as I haven’t heard any talk of it lately. Seeing as how D-I has lost more teams (Furman, Hartford to D-III) then gained, I think it may be awhile before we see any new programs anywhere, let alone Utah. That’s just my uneducated guess. I do think if UVU were to add, it would hopefully open up a better blueprint for other non-FBS football (or in this case, non-football) West Coast schools to add. That would be exciting as there are a ton of those: Chapman, any of the UC or Cal State schools, LMU, Weber State, SUU, Dixie State, Grand Canyon (although I don’t see them adding since they used to be an NCAA school). If you look at non-football schools that have NCAA D-I Men’s lacrosse, you have: Denver, Fairfield, Quinnipiac, Jacksonville, Bellarmine, Loyola, Mount Saint Mary’s, UMBC, Boston, UMass Lowell, Detroit Mercy, Hofstra, Canisius, Manhattan, St. Bonaventure, St. John’s, Siena, High Point, Cleveland State, Drexel, Saint Joseph’s, Vermont and Marquette. That’s a lot of teams in a similar athletic situation as UVU. What isn’t similar is enrollment. UVU has almost 10,000 students more than the next closest school (Boston). Now, you could also argue that because UVU doesn’t have football, the revenue isn’t there to support a team but I think there is ways around that as the above schools have proven.
2017 IMLAX Youth Registrations
If you’re confused by the headline, let me explain. I took the number of 7th/8th grade youth players in 2017 and compared them to this years high school teams because those players then are Juniors and Seniors now. The theory is that a strong youth program leads to success on the field at the high school level.
You can view the data above and make your own conclusions. Obviously another key to a successful high school program, besides youth program size, is quality coaching. There’s a couple teams that didn’t have complete data (Herriman, Park City) and it’s certainly possible that this list isn’t 100% accurate.
Bubba Fairman (Brighton) scored 1 goal in the 14-13 overtime win for Maryland over Notre Dame. Garrett Bullet (Corner Canyon) and Zack Franckowiak (Corner Canyon) both played for Rutgers in the 12-11 overtime loss to UNC.
Men’s Semifinals: UNC will take on Virginia at 10:00 am MT while Duke faces Maryland at 2:30 pm MT on Saturday, May 29.
Women’s: UNC takes on Boston College at 10:00 am MT while Northwestern takes on Syracuse at Noon MT on Friday, May 28.
Remember kids, it wasn’t long ago that the NCAA Semis/Finals were the only games on TV. Don’t take it for granted.
Also, congrats to the Lindenwood Women’s team who won the NCAA D-II Championship. Ellie Faulk (Park City) had a goal in the title game. Aleksa Allen (Herriman) is also on the team.
High School Semis Tale of the Tape
I was going to try to get through this newsletter without focusing on the games, but I couldn’t resist.
Don’t forget to check out your brackets!
That’s it for today. I’ll check back in midweek after the semis.
— Tim Haslam