OCEAN CITY- Providing further evidence lacrosse is growing by leaps and bounds on the Eastern Shore and gaining more and more respect along the way, the Greene Turtle All-Star team turned a lot of heads this summer with strong showings in several tournaments against some of the most talented teams in the country.
The Greene Turtle All-Star travel team is made up of some of the top players from high schools across the Eastern Shore including many from right here in the Ocean City and Berlin areas including several players from Worcester Prep and Stephen Decatur. Other players come from strong high school programs on the shore like Easton and Parkside, or Cape Henlopen in Delaware. Last year, players on the team were 9th and 10th graders, but this year, the players are entering 10th and 11th grade at their respective high school programs.
It was formed about three years ago to provide an opportunity for some of area’s best young lacrosse talent to play in high level tournaments throughout the mid-Atlantic region and gain valuable exposure in front of some of the top college coaches and recruiters in the country.
Under the direction of Steve Pappas, owner of the original Greene Turtle, and coaches Greg Butler and Moose Mohr along with a heavy dose of coaching and instruction from University of Maryland coach Dave Cottle, the team enjoyed another hugely successful summer tournament season against some of the best programs from up and down the coast.
“There are a lot of great young players on the shore including right here in Ocean City and Berlin and they wouldn’t get a chance to play against higher caliber players or wouldn’t get the exposed to college coaches and recruiters without this opportunity,” said Pappas.
Pappas said the intent is to gain notoriety for the team and Eastern Shore lacrosse in general, and for the talented young players to get a look from college coaches or recruiters who might not otherwise travel to the shore to watch lacrosse. With the success of the Turtle team this summer, the program is achieving the desired results.
“It’s working,” said Pappas. “It has, by far, achieved more than I ever dreamed possible. Not just one or two players are getting an opportunity, but they’re all getting looked at by college coaches.”
In the beginning of the program about three years ago, the Greene Turtle All-Stars took their lumps in some of the better tournaments in the mid-Atlantic area, but the local team has caught up to those programs and even gone beyond in the last year or so, collecting plenty of tournament hardware and toppling a few traditional powers along the way.
This summer, the steady evolution of the program continued with a wildly successful tournament season. In June, the Greene Turtle team went 8-0-1 in the Summer Explosion tournament in Annapolis and won its division championship. Next up was the prestigious Gait Cup played at Gettysburg College where the Turtle went 8-1, its only loss coming in the tournament semifinals to the Black Jacks, a powerhouse team from Pennsylvania.
The team garnered a lot of attention in the Gait Cup and a handful of players were named to the Gait Cup All-Star team including Jake Graves, Calvin Snyder, Jeff Mohr, Chris Dashiell and Stephen Pappas.
Three weeks ago, the Turtle continued its impressive summer run at the Summer Sizzle tournament in Baltimore, running the table in its division before falling in overtime in the semifinals to finish the event with an impressive 8-1 record. The Turtle’s big summer run concluded with another standout performance in the Battle of the Hotbeds tournament at the University of Delaware two weeks ago when the team went 9-3.
With their run of recent success, the local team is starting to get the credit it deserves as one of the elite programs in the mid-Atlantic region, but the respect has come slowly, according to Pappas.
“One of the intriguing things about this team is that we constantly hear ‘you can’t beat this or that team’ or ‘you have to play your very best game to have a shot against that team,’ but we go out there and beat them,” he said. “We’ve heard that all year. At Hotbeds against Virginia Elite, everybody said there was no way a team from the Eastern Shore could beat them, so all we did was go out and beat them 9-2. I don’t know what else we have to do.”
Success in the elite tournaments this summer has gotten the Greene Turtle team the credit and respect it deserves as indicated by a berth in the invitation-only Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions in Florida next January. The team will travel to Florida for the tournament with the help of a fundraising effort planned for later this year and the support of big sponsors like Great Scott Broadcasting for example.
The future looks bright for the Greene Turtle program with legions of young players involved in lacrosse across the lower shore. A younger Turtle team coached by Ben Ogle and Dustin Gilbert has enjoyed similar tournament success its players will step up and fill the ranks of the older team when its players move up to the next level.