The Buffalo Cup

With the Buffalo skyline overlooking the field and the stadium lights beaming down on the turf at D’youville College’s Dobson Field, the best lacrosse players in Western New York battle at a speed closer to a college game than a men’s league game.

“It’s just summer league” is not something you will hear during a Buffalo Cup game because for the guys suiting up this means so much more.

Last week the Championship games in the Gold and Silver Divisions of the Buffalo Cup both went to overtime as players dove for ground balls, were coma sliding like an NCAA playoff game, and putting it all on the line to be able to win a trophy that is special to the Buffalo lacrosse community. Winning the championship and looking at all of the names of so many great players from years past makes the Buffalo Cup one of the most unique trophies in lacrosse.

Old high school rivalries, grudges from college, younger players looking to prove themselves, older guys showing they’ve still got it, and forming new friendships make Wednesday nights the highlight of every week in the summer. Competition, camaraderie, and respect has been on display in the Buffalo Cup since its first summer of play in 2011. It has come a long way since it was played at Mill Middle School where the field famously caught on fire before a game.

Summer 2019 was another exciting year of the Buffalo Cup.

The Buffalo Cup began as a way for alumni of the Buffalo Lacrosse Academy youth and high school club teams to play during the summer when they came back home from college. It quickly drew attention and friends who didn’t play BLA wanted in. Now it is open to players all over Buffalo including guys like myself who would live in the area during the summer in between college semesters. Players from Michigan, Ohio, Delaware, Illinois, Arizona, Colorado, and Canada have played in the Buffalo Cup.

Take a look on the field during a game and you will see helmets from schools like Albany, Richmond, Canisius, Penn State, Cornell, Maryland, John Carroll, Mercyhurst, St. Bonaventure, Lake Erie, Tampa, Hobart, Le Moyne, Maryville, and more. Guys that play or played Division 2, 3, or even club lacrosse in college get a chance to see how they stack up against Division 1 players.

Current pros like Connor Fields, Tim Edwards, Connor Buczek, and Max Tuttle have all played in the Buffalo Cup during previous summers to get a good run in with the best players in the area.

Teams are sponsored by local businesses ranging from local watering holes like Forty Thieves, Del Denby’s, and Doc Sullivan’s to an ice cream shop (Lake Effect Ice Cream) and even car dealerships like Jim Murphy’s Cars.

Regional Buffalo rivalries like Forty Thieves, made up of mostly Bishop Timon High School alumni, vs AAA Insurance, made up of all Hamburg/Orchard Park High School alumni, features guys that have played against each other since they were kids still playing with the same intensity they did in high school if not more intense now. Teams in the Gold Division run d-middies, FOGOs, offensive middies, and LSMs like a college or pro team would because they are playing to win.

A team like Jim Murphy Cars is a hand picked squad put together by Canisius alumni and league Commissioner Brendan Murphy. Every week we seem to be scratching our heads as Murph has a new big name player on his team, but you have to respect the hustle as he is sending out texts and calls every week getting guys to sign up to give his team the best chance to win. That GM style of making teams is done across the board as other team captains bring in friends from college or friends of friends to bolster their teams.

I even got the chance to play with my former head coach at Canisius, and current St. Bonaventure Head Coach, Randy Mearns who is still out there zinging passes and scoring backhanded goals. It was also cool to see Coach Mearns play against his son Tanner who will be a sophomore on the Drexel lacrosse team this year. Moments like that are what the Buffalo Cup so special.

The past three summers of playing in the Buffalo Cup have been some of my favorite lacrosse memories with winning the championship last year with the Forty Thieves team being a night to remember. Getting to play with my old teammates and becoming friends with guys I played against in college. Drinking from the cup after the game I thought of a summer of hard fought wins, highs and lows, guys rushing to the field straight from work, and then sharing a couple drinks and laughs after the games.

Coming to the field every week to play this great game with such an amazing community of players and people are what make the Buffalo Cup more than just another summer league. You can see how much winning this championship means on faces of the players who have waited years to get a chance to raise the trophy and whose names will be etched into Buffalo lacrosse history.

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