By Dan McWilliams
There was no shortage of lacrosse action in late April at Knoxville Catholic High School’s Blaine Stadium, and proceeds benefited Catholic Charities of East Tennessee.
“The expanded three-day Knights Cup Lacrosse Tournament, held April 25-27 at KCHS, was clearly the most successful of the 16 athletic events the Knights of Columbus have sponsored since 2004 to help children and families throughout the diocese,” tourney organizer Tom Ciaccia said.
Twelve high school teams, four college teams, eight middle school teams, and countless youth teams from under-7 through U12 came together over three days to put on about 25 games at every level of competition.
On April 25, the Knights Cup started off with two high school girls games featuring Christian Academy of Knoxville, the Roane County Lady Knights, the West Knox Lady Warriors, and Knoxville Catholic.
“At halftime of the games, youth teams from Farragut Youth Lacrosse and Knoxville Youth Sports took the field for a series of exhibition games that demonstrated the bright future of girls lacrosse in Knoxville,” Mr. Ciaccia said. “Big crowds came out to support the young ladies in the first ever girls lacrosse games played in the Knights Cup.”
West Knox edged the host Lady Irish 13-11.
The feature attraction of the Knights Cup was the NAIA Independent Conference Final Four Championship Tournament. In the semifinal round played April 26, Keiser University of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., defeated Lindenwood University of Belleville, Ill., 21-0 in the first game. Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design topped Missouri Baptist University of St. Louis 9-4 in a hard-fought second semifinal that was close until the final minutes, when the Bees pulled away to seal the victory.
In what was “clearly the most exciting lacrosse game ever played in Knoxville,” Mr. Ciaccia said, Keiser defeated SCAD on a final-seconds goal April 27 to earn an 11-10 victory and a trip to the NAIA national championship tournament in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Collierville High School, Boyd Buchanan High School of Chattanooga, Fellowship of Christian Athletes-Chattanooga, Blount County Lacrosse, the Roane County Knights, Christian Academy of Knoxville, the Sullivan County Knights, and Knoxville Catholic competed in four high school boys games played April 27.
The KCHS boys more than doubled up Blount County in a 15-6 victory.
The Hardin Valley Hawks, Sacred Heart Cathedral School, Farragut Youth Lacrosse, Knoxville Youth Sports, the Kingsport Knights, the Roane County Knights, and Christian Academy of Knoxville fielded middle school teams that provided lacrosse action throughout the day April 27.
“Kids at that level have developed their skills and knowledge of the game and always put on some exciting games that show that high school lacrosse in the Knoxville area will continue to get stronger,” Mr. Ciaccia said.
“Spectators who have been coming to Knights Cup games since the event started in 2016 have seen that the level of competition at the youth, middle school, and high school levels continues to get better every year,” Mr. Ciaccia added. “That’s a credit to the coaches of these teams who have worked hard over several years to build the sport in our community.”
In addition to the level of competition, the crowds coming out to experience the lacrosse continue to get bigger every year.
“We were pleased with the turnout this year and the enthusiasm that was exhibited throughout the three days,” Mr. Ciaccia said. “It’s not just parents coming out for their kids anymore. Fans are definitely coming out to these games and staying longer. High school coaches are coming out to scout the middle school kids, and the college coaches are sticking around to look for recruits. The Knights Cup has become a premier showcase event for lacrosse.”
The winning teams were not the only victors in the Knights Cup.
“As great as it is to have an event like this in Knoxville, it is important to keep in mind that despite what’s on the scoreboard, the winners from these Knights Cup games are the children and families that will receive life-saving assistance from the Catholic Charities Office of Pregnancy Services as a result of all these student-athletes coming together to play lacrosse,” Mr. Ciaccia said. “The Knights issued a check for $12,000 to Catholic Charities to support the extraordinary work that Sandi Davidson and her staff, many of whom are volunteers, offer our community every day.”
Knights Cup V is already scheduled.
“Everyone in our community can go ahead and circle April 16-18, 2020, for the fifth annual Knights Cup Lacrosse Tournament,” Mr. Ciaccia said. “We are already lining up the high school and college teams that will be taking the field at Blaine Stadium, as the Knights Cup continues to grow as the only lacrosse event anywhere in the country that brings youth, middle school, high school boys and girls, and college teams together in one showcase event to promote this growing sport and provide much-needed assistance to families in our community.”