Sailin' Shoe won the Men's Grand Masters I division title at the 24th annual Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Classic with a 7-3 victory over the Slo-Moes on championship Sunday.
Started by Jake Reed and Jeff Long more than 25 years ago, Sailin' Shoe has been competing at the Summit Classic since its inception. This year's squad outscored its competition 33-22 on the way to a perfect 4-0 record with wins against the Barflies Lacrosse Club (9-6), Atlantic Sportswear (7-6) and Still Bruin (10-7) before downing the Slo-Moes.
The Sailin' Shoe roster featured some well-known names in the sport, including Joe Solomon, a Cornell alum who was called in to to play goalie for the team on short notice. The team also featured the great John Zulberti, who starred at Syracuse University in the late 1980s, and Matt Kerwick, who was a two-sport star (lacrosse and hockey) at Hobart in the mid 1980s and now serves as an assistant at Cornell. Kerwick finished the championship game with a goal and an assist.
This edition of the Sailin' Shoe squad also brought Lelan Rogers, Syracuse's defensive coordinator, out of retirement to take face-offs, where he was key in helping spark the team's success.
Bill Bergen, who has coached at Clarkson University for 25 years, helps organize this year's Sailin' Shoe squad at Lake Placid and saw time at both midfield and attack.
"I've been doing this every year since the tournament started, so that's 24 straight years," Bergen said. "So it's been interesting to watch the group that we've had. The core of guys here have been playing for this team over the course of 24 years in some way, shape or form, so it's been pretty neat."
As members of the team have aged, Bergen said, the roster isn't quite as full as it used to be, with some players now getting a bit banged up and needing to rest their bodies, which he said is part of competing at the Grand Masters level. But that's where the strong Sailin' Shoe network comes into play, as the team was able to call upon Solomon to travel to Lake Placid to fill the net, where he was excellent.
The Sailin' Shoe squad is a fraternal group, one that uses Lake Placid to reunite the players with one another and their families, with plenty of cook outs and festivities throughout the days of the Grand Masters tournament at the Summit Classic.
"The Sailin' Shoe has quite a tradition, and when you get to this level, I think survival is what you're trying to achieve more than anything else," Bergen said. "It's great to see these guys coming back every year and strapping it on and doing what we love the most."