Glenelg rising senior Alex Mundy played in many important girls' lacrosse games this spring when she helped lead her team to its first Maryland 2A/1A title, but the atmosphere at the games she played in last weekend was different.
As Mundy took the field as a defender for the Maryland & D.C Black 2006 team at this past weekend's National Draw tournament, she couldn't help but notice who was watching her.
"College coaches were everywhere," she said. "They were all watching our games, and that puts a lot of pressure on you to play well. You can't freak out. My dad counted 24 college coaches at one of our games. You just have to take advantage of the opportunity."
For players such as Mundy, who aspire to play lacrosse in college, the National Draw, which is regarded by many coaches as the country's most prestigious high school club tournament, is their chance to make a good first impression on college coaches. College coaches from Maryland to California, often wearing school colors, sit quietly and try to identify potential recruits.
Though NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from talking to the players at the event, coaches used this past weekend to help determine which players they'll begin to recruit July 1, the first day they are allowed to talk to rising seniors.
There were 100 teams composed of more than 1,600 rising seniors competing in the National Draw's varsity division title -- and for college scholarships from the more than 70 coaches in attendance.
"The big thing for college coaches is they can spend two days and see hundreds of players, which is something they can't do during the high school season," said Scott Robinson, who coaches M&D Black 2006. "If you can play well here, I think it definitely works to your advantage because next week college coaches can start talking to you."
Robinson understands the importance of summer lacrosse. Last summer, he also coached M&D's top team of rising seniors and dominated the circuit. His team finished 31-0 and was the state's first team to win the nation's three biggest tournaments in the same season: the National Draw, Colorado's Vail Shootout and Galaxy Nationals. And as a result, all 25 of his players were offered -- and accepted -- Division I scholarships before the start of this past high school season.
But this year's team won't be able to repeat what last year's team accomplished. M&D Black 2006 -- composed primarily of players from Howard County public schools as well as girls from several Maryland private schools and a few from Virginia -- gave a good showing at the National Draw, but not the great one players had sought. M&D finished 2-2 and did not make it out of pool play after suffering a 5-3 loss to Skywalkers White 2006, one of the top teams in Baltimore.
"We have girls from all over the place, and it's going to take some more time to bond as a team," said defender Cari Haas, who attends River Hill. "But we still had high expectations coming here because we have a lot of good players. I didn't necessarily think we were going to win the championship, but I thought we were going to win our bracket."
The National Draw was just one of several major tournaments on M&D Black 2006's summer schedule. The team will see many of the same opponents this weekend, when it competes in the Vail Shootout in Colorado, before heading to Kent Island High School in Stevensville from July 15 to 17 for the All-Star Express, which features 210 teams and is billed as the "biggest women's tournament on the planet."
"I think what hurt us at the National Draw was that we weren't used to playing with each other, and we need to have better chemistry," said midfielder Megan Bosica, the All-Met player of the year from Mount Hebron. "I think the more games we play together the better we'll be. This is just the start to the summer, and we're only going to get better."