01 April 2012:   North Carolina Tar Heels vs the Johns Hopkins  Blue Jays at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic held at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.   Mandatory Credit: Alex Cena (Alex Cena)

The fourth annual Konica Minolta Big City Classic was held on April 1, 2012.  Once again, the event delivered the elite names of college lacrosse in an exciting tripleheader on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ formerly the New Meadowlands Stadium.  With top-ranked teams such as Syracuse, Duke, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins and North Carolina in the lineup, this is always a must-see Inside Lacrosse event for fans of this fast growing sport.  The games were:

I am a bit biased as I shoot for Inside Lacrosse several times a year, but it really is a great event.  The games are usually close, the fans wild and the athletes phenomenal.  On a personal level, I enjoy photographing lacrosse because it is such a tight-knit community from all levels, including the players, the coaches, the magazines and yes the photographers as well.  In fact, whenever I photograph a lacrosse event I am surprised to find so many players that I have shot in high school and in some cases grammar school lax as well.  Enjoy some of my favorites below.

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On St. Patrick’s Day, I was out working while most everyone else was celebrating this wonderful holiday.  I was shooting the UMass at Penn State men’s lax game for Inside Lacrosse Magazine, which is the source for the sport.  My favorite shot from the college game was the above celebration after UMass scored the winning goal in sudden death during over time.  Instead of sitting in the corner as I usually do, I positioned myself mid-field so I had a clear view of both team benches.  It had been a close match during the entire game so I wanted a sport I can shoot either bench.  I did not watch the action during sudden death.  I was focused on the attacking team’s bench and I was going to release the shutter the moment the team scored.  I would’ve watched the action then turned toward the bench but I would’ve missed the peak celebration when UMass maintained its undefeated season.

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25 February 2012: Bucknell LS Midfielder Evan Bozymski (44) and Villanova Attackman Kevin Cunningham (29) during men's lacrosse action at Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Mandatory Credit: Alex Cena

FROM PRESS RELEASE

Feb. 25, 2012  No. 9 Villanova Outlasts Bucknell in Overtime, 13-12
Cunningham Nets Game Winner to Solidify Victory

VILLANOVA, Pa. - Senior Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) netted the overtime game-winner on a wraparound shot to give the Wildcats a 13-12 overtime victory over Bucknell on Saturday afternoon. In a game that featured seven ties and four lead changes, No. 9 Villanova relied on the strength of upperclassmen experience and junior Jack Rice’s (Baltimore, Md.) career-high six goals to propel the Wildcats to the win.

“Our offense played fast, we were picking great, and spinning the ball quick, finding guys on the backside, that’s what I think was very effective for us,” Rice said.

Sophomore faceoff specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) won the final 11 face-offs of the game starting at the 8:18 mark of the third quarter and continuing until overtime. Prior to that point, the Wildcats were just 6-of-18 from the face-off X but eventually finished 17-of-29 for the day.

Villanova trailed 11-10 with just over three minutes left in regulation when the Wildcats scored the game-tying and go-ahead goals just 10 seconds apart from junior Max Hart’s (Bethesda, Md.) unassisted tally. Just 10 seconds later, Rice scored on a feed from sophomore LSM John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) to give Villanova a 12-11 lead.

In the back-and-forth contest, however, that lead stood for just over a minute before Bucknell tied the game for the third time in eight minutes on a goal by Todd Heritage with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter.

In the first half, Villanova scored four of the first five goals and built a 6-3 lead midway through the second quarter. Four different Wildcats posted scores during that span, including seniors Matt Bell (Severna Park, Md.) Michael Vigilante (Massapequa, N.Y.) and sophomore Kevin O’Neil (Cockeysville, Md.), while Rice netted three of his six scores during that run.

Bucknell eventually scored three straight goals to tie the game at 6-6 with 1:11 left before intermission, but a goal from Cunningham with just 26 seconds left sent the Wildcats back to the locker rooms with a 7-6 advantage.

Rice was one of four Wildcats with at least three points for the day, while Cunningham and Vigilante each contributed two goals and one assist. Senior C.J. Small (San Diego, Calif.) contributed a game and career-high five assists.

Defensively, sophomore Chris Piccirilli (Davidsonville, Md.) and LoCascio each nabbed five ground balls while Croonquist led the team with eight pick-ups off of his face-off performance. Senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) tallied a career-high 15 saves in the victory, including nine in the first half, to aid in the win. Bucknell’s Kyle Feeney notched 16 saves despite recording his third-straight defeat.

No. 9 Villanova returns to action on Tuesday, February 28th when they host Drexel (1-1) at Villanova Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

NOTES: Villanova is 10-of-14 (71.4%) on man-up opportunities through the first two games of the season, including 4-of-5 (80%) in today’s win over Bucknell… Villanova’s last overtime win came last season and was also at home in a 9-8 decision over Penn on March 12, 2011… The Wildcats are 4-3 (.571) in overtime games since Head Coach Mike Corrado became head coach in 2007… VU has won three of their last four overtime games dating back to 2009.

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The weather up here in the Northeast has been unseasonably warm so I have already started to think about field sports again.  I want to be outside shooting as opposed to being cooped up inside.

Indoor sports are such a pain to shoot because you either have to shoot in dark venues, or you have to set up strobes, which can be a hassle at times.  Not only do you have more gear to haul around, but every venue has its own set of rules.  For example, Penn State requires you to complete your strobe set up in the rafters before the doors are open to the public.  Sound policy, but a pain so I never set up lights there and just shoot at a high ISO.

But now that we have said goodbye to 2011, I have started to think about spring sports.  Specifically, I love shooting sports action for Inside Lacrosse in the spring and one of the first big events is the Face Off Classic which will be held on March 10, 2012 at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland featuring some of the top college mens teams including, Princeton, North Carolina, Virginia, Cornell, UMBC and Johns Hopkins.  I have shot this event for several years now and cannot wait to be there again in a few months.

If you cannot make it to the Big City Classic, another one of my favorites is the NCAA Women’s lacrosse championship finals held at the end of May.  You should definitely go to this exciting event.  If you do, please don’t forget to say hi and smile when I point my camera at you.  

Photo by Alex Cena

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Photos by Alex Cena

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11 May 2010:  Images taken during the Westfield at Kent Place High School Girls Varsity lacrosse game held at Pat Conley Field.

CLICK HERE to view all the photos from the game.

Photos by Credit: Alex Cena

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100430 NCAA LAX Army vs Bucknell at Patriot League Semi-finals – Images by Alex Cena

FROM PRESS RELEASE

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Army senior attackman Tyler Seymour scored career-highs with five points and four goals to lead the Black Knights to a 9-7 come-from-behind victory over Bucknell in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament at Michie Stadium.

Army will take on Navy on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. for the Patriot League Championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The fourth-seeded Bison opened a 4-0 lead with 12:15 left in the second quarter, but top-seeded Army outscored the visitors 5-1 over the next 26:20 to tie the score, 5-5, after three quarters. The Bison again looked to take control with a pair of goals in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, but four unanswered Black Knights tallies over the final 13:03, including three-straight by Seymour, put Army in its first Patriot League Tournament championship game since making back-to-back appearances in 2005 and 2006.

Junior goalkeeper Tom Palesky made 17 saves, including 11 to keep it close in the first half, while junior Jeremy Boltus logged a goal and three assists in the squad’s sixth-straight victory.

“Today was a great win for our guys,” said Army head coach Joe Alberici. “I’m really proud of the way they hung in there all the way through. I thought a critical point was the third quarter that gave us a little confidence when our offense had been sputtering to that point. When we went down, 7-5, I think a lot of people counted us out because they thought, maybe, we had done what we could to get back into the game, but didn’t have much left. I was really proud of the men that are in our locker room and how they continued to battle. The defense really clamped down, Tom (Palesky) was nothing but spectacular in goal, and then we got things going on the offensive end. ”

It was all Bucknell in the early going. Junior midfielder Ryan Klipstein scored a man-up goal following an Army slashing penalty at 13:19 as the Bison controlled possession for most of the first quarter. Sophomore attackman Billy Eisenreich bulled his way through three Army defenders and stuffed home a goal with 5:55 on the clock. Sophomore midfielder Nick Gantsoudes finished off a six-yard run at 2:58 to stake the Bison to a three-goal edge after the first quarter.

An unassisted goal by senior attackman Austin Winter after juking out an Army defender made it 4-0 in favor of Bucknell with 12:15 on the second-quarter clock.

Boltus took a feed from Seymour on the Bucknell crease and scored Army’s first goal at 10:19, before sophomore midfielder Devin Lynch finished a strong run with a goal with 4:45 left in the quarter.

Bucknell would re-take a three-goal lead into halftime on a shot by Klipstein that looked to be saved but trickled behind Palesky with 3:34 on the clock.

Thul started a 4-0 Black Knight run to start the third quarter with a 12-yard shot that went through Bucknell freshman goalkeeper Kyle Feeney’s legs at 13:46. Just over a minute later, sophomore midfielder Sean O’Sullivan struck on a 15-yard shot off a pass from senior attackman Tyler Oates to pull Army within one, 5-4, with 12:36 to play in the quarter.

Seymour took a Boltus feed from behind the crease and scored on a seven-yard shot with 55 seconds showing to tie the game, 5-5, and set up the wild fourth quarter.

Bison senior midfielder Chris Palmer scored from close range at 14:07, before sophomore midfielder Charlie Streep scored on a 10-yard laser a minute later to put the visitors back up 7-5 with 13:03 remaining.

The Black Knights answered less than a minute later as Seymour scored a pair of goals off Boltus feeds only 54 seconds apart to knot the game back up, 7-7, with 11:00 to play. The first goal came in transition following a big save by Palesky, before the second came on an eight-yard shot from the left side of the cage.

Seymour gave Army its first lead of the game with his fourth tally of the afternoon, stuffing a shot from close range past Feeney with 4:59 to play in the game. Junior midfielder Rob McCallion added the insurance goal with 1:54 remaining to seal the win. Feeney came out of the crease on a re-start to help double-team Boltus, but Boltus rolled a pass to McCallion 10 yards in front of the cage that he scooped up and zinged into the empty net for the game’s final strike.

BLACK KNIGHT NOTES: Army improved its all-time record against Bucknell to 25-9 … it was the third straight season the two teams had met in the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals as Bucknell had won the previous two showdowns … the Black Knights defeated the Bison in overtime, 7-6, earlier this month on the road to snap a five-game skid against Bucknell … the visitors won 16 of 20 faceoffs during Friday’s game … Army junior attackman Jeremy Boltus leapt three spots to 14th place on the Academy’s all-time scoring list with 136 points to date … his three assists also moved him into seventh place on the career list with 75 … Army fell to Navy in the 2005 Patriot League Tournament Championship game, 15-8, a year before also falling in the final game, 8-5, to the Mids in 2006 … Black Knight senior defenseman Sam Harrison led the Black Knights onto the field before the game, carrying the American Flag.

CLICK HERE to see all the images from the game

From Press Release

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Anchored by junior attackman Andy Warner’s (Corning, N.Y.) career-high four goals, the Navy men’s lacrosse team (7-7) used a nine-goal second half to score an 11-9 come-from-behind win over third-seeded Lafayette (8-6) Friday evening in the Patriot League Tournament Semifinals held at Army’s Michie Stadium. Winners of five of the six previous tournaments, Navy will make its sixth appearance in the Patriot League finals when it battles arch rival Army on Sunday at 3:00 pm.

“Getting by this team was a big deal for us,” said Navy head coach Richie Meade, who has directed the Mids to an 11-1 all-time record in the Patriot League Tournament. “The last time we played, Lafayette kicked our butts. They won every phase of the game, including the battle of will and the battle of emotion. Today we started out exactly the same way as we did that night. We had to come a long way to stop it and come back. Our team has this quality to fight. I’m thankful for the win.”

Lafayette grabbed the early lead when middie Kevin Dunbar fed All-Patriot League attackman Tom Perini, who threaded his shot past 2010 Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year RJ Wickham (Penn Yan, N.Y.) at the 12:29 mark.

The Midshipmen tied things up at the five-minute mark when sophomore attackman Ryan O’Leary (East Meadow, N.Y.) caught leading scorer Patrick Moran (Annapolis, Md.) cutting from the left wing. Moran stuck his five-yarder to push his season goal total to 24.

Lafayette, however, scored the final two goals of the opening quarter, including a wrap-around shot by Matt Mersky with 30.6 seconds remaining to take a 3-1 advantage into the second quarter.

Navy trimmed the lead to one just under four minutes into the second quarter on a crank shot by O’Leary. But less than a minute later, a bouncer by Colin Serling sparked a three-goal run by the Leopards, giving Lafayette a 6-2 lead at the break.

“I told the guys at the half, `there’s nothing I can say to you to turn this around, you’re going to have to do it yourself,’” said Meade.
“They were outhustling us,” said All-Patriot League defenseman Michael Hirsch (Schwenksville, Pa.). “They are a hard-working, scrappy bunch of guys.”

“We just didn’t come out mentally prepared,” added Warner. “We have this thing about starting out slow … that needs to change for us to be successful.”

And it did in the second half. Eerily similar to last week’s Johns Hopkins contest, the Mids managed to put together a 5-0 run in the third quarter to get back into the game. The run was led by last week’s hero Warner, who scored the game-winner against Hopkins in overtime. Warner scored an extra-man goal, his eighth of the year, at the 13:10 mark and then fired off a 10-yarder just nine seconds later to narrow Lafayette’s lead to 6-4.

For the second straight game, the Mids got help from the opposition in the scoring column. Lafayette defenseman Paul Hammer came up with a loose ball and as he was being pressured by the Mids, he turned back towards the goal and threw the ball in the direction of his teammate. In doing so, however, his pass caught the inside of the right post and into the net at the 9:24 mark.

Just over 30 seconds later, Moran found senior attackman Brendan Connors (Bellmore, N.Y.) three yards in front of the crease for the game-tying goal. Navy took its first lead of the game at the 7:18 mark when Warner took the extra step on his defender and sent an eight-yard shot high from the left wing.

The Mids held their lead for nearly six minutes before Serling ran in from the right wing untouched and powered in his shot past Wickham.

With the game deadlocked at 7-7 for nearly half of the final period, Navy scored three straight to take the lead for good. Moran got things started with his ninth extra-man goal of the year at the 7:57 mark and that was followed just over a minute later by a power lefty shot from senior middie Joe Lennon (Westminster, Md.). That late goal extended Lennon’s scoring streak to 17 straight games, a streak that began with his four-goal output against Colgate in last year’s Patriot League semifinals.

Navy capped its run when Warner wrapped around the left side of the cage and poked in his shot over the shoulder of Lafayette keeper Vinny DePasquale. It’s the second time this season a Navy player has scored four goals in a game, as Connors produced four scores in the Mids’ one-goal loss to Towson.

Lafayette, however, was not done. Refusing to give in, Mersky scored an unassisted goal with 4:02 remaining to cut into the Mids’ lead. With under a minute to go in the game, Warner was flagged for a hold. After coming up empty on its previous five extra-man attempts, Mersky fired in a shot from two yards out to get the Leopards to within one, 10-9, with 38 seconds remaining.

Navy’s Logan West (Berlin, Md.) won the ensuing faceoff and spread the field. Lafayette pulled its keeper out of the goal in the hopes of forcing a Navy turnover, but instead O’Leary fired in the insurance goal on an open net with 10 seconds to go.

Warner led the way for the Mids with four goals, while Connors and Moran each turned in four-point performances. West took all 24 draws for Navy, winning a career-high 11 while also pacing the Mids with a career-best seven ground balls.

Mersky paced Lafayette with four goals, while Perini and Serling each pitched in two.

Army and Navy will battle for the right to represent the Patriot League in the 2010 NCAA Championship when the two meet on Sunday for the Patriot League title. Navy has won five of the six previously played tournaments (2004-05-06-07-09), while Army has never won the conference tournament since its inception in 2004. Army and Navy, however, have twice faced one another for the conference title. The Mids earned a 15-8 win over the Black Knights in 2005 and in 2006, Navy posted an 8-5 win.

Sunday’s game is slated for a 3:00 pm faceoff and will be televised live by CBS College Sports. Fans can also tune in to 1430 WNAV, 1050 WFED or Sirius Satellite Radio (channel to be announced) to hear the Voice of Navy Athletics Pete Medhurst call the action.