In a white No. 75 jersey emblazoned with a lacrosse player, Loudoun Valley senior Tommy Schonder cradled the ball near the sideline left of the goal, looking for an opportunity to sneak through the defense during practice.
"Go hard! Go hard, Tommy," his coach yelled.
That's when Schonder made his move toward the goal, faking right, then breaking left before spinning right near the front of the goal for the shot.
Schonder didn't covert that opportunity, but 44 times during the regular season he did. Those goals, along with his team-high in assists (29) and groundballs (161), are part of the reason Schonder, the AA Dulles District Player of the Year, was practicing Monday with the Loudoun All-Stars, a summer lacrosse team comprising mostly area players who will play in this weekend's 16th Annual Champ Camp in Baltimore.
Champ Camp brings together some of the nation's best summer lacrosse teams -- 64 this year -- and provides a level of competition players in Loudoun County do not face during the regular season.
"It's a chance for you to go out and test your skills against somebody else. If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will," said Loudoun defensive coach John Rogers, a former Division III all-American at Franklin & Marshall.
Champ Camp draws many college scouts who watch and evaluate players and speak with coaches about potential recruits.
College scholarships are the focus for many of the players, if not all.
"I'm young," said David Miller, a 15-year-old sophomore at Notre Dame Academy, "so it's good exposure early, and [colleges] can just follow me through my career."
The tournament also provides valuable experience for local players as they measure themselves against some the best high school lacrosse talent in the country.
"Lacrosse is still relatively young in Loudoun County," Schonder said, "so to be able to play against teams from Baltimore and New York, where they play lacrosse a lot more, is a great opportunity to improve during the summertime and take what you learn into the [regular] season."
The players have been practicing for this tournament for about two hours each evening, several nights a week, since mid-June. The spacious green fields behind Tolbert Elementary School in Leesburg validate that, with the grass around the crease and in front of the goal worn down to dirt beneath players' cleats.
Practice takes a toll on the players too, but it's invaluable in building familiarity. The team has players from Loudoun Valley, Stone Bridge, Broad Run, Heritage and Potomac Falls who have competed against one another; now they need to learn to work together.
In the huddle before the end of practice Monday, Loudoun Coach Jay Harkey told his players he hoped they were jelling at the right time. Schonder thinks they are, citing the team's performance at a tournament in Lancaster, Pa., earlier this month. Loudoun finished 5-3 in the two-day tournament.
"I think we played well, and we started to come together then. But I think now we've gotten away from a lot of individual stuff, and we're working real well as a team, finding each other when we're open and playing together," said Schonder.
Coming off a 5-3 finish in last year's Champ Camp, Harkey says team chemistry will be paramount this weekend, especially since "there's going to be a huge amount of talent" at the tournament, and the "stick work and history that some areas like Baltimore have blows us away."
"My goal is to be competitive with every team that we play so exposure we get is positive, not negative," Harkey said. "We don't have to win one game, but as long as we're competitive, coaches will see us playing."