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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Horace Mann beats Curtis To Win Mayors’ Cup in Lacrosse

April 14, 2007 (GBN Sports): In what was certainly one of the more unusual games in sports history, Horace Mann bested Curtis High School 6-5 Saturday to win the first annual Mayors’ Cup Tournament in Girls’ Lacrosse. The site of the match was Randalls’ Island, which has been the focus of a great deal of controversy between the City and numerous citizen groups over use of the island’s ball fields. Under a recent deal, a consortium of private schools has exclusive rights to newly renovated fields, which will encompass a majority of the island’s sports complex. PSAL officials running the tournament had not anticipated that a public school might meet a private school in the finals, and were unable to obtain permission on such short notice to allow the Curtis team, from a public high school, onto a restricted field to play Horace Mann.

This dilemma was dealt with in an unusual and creative way. Each team played alone on a separate field; Horace Mann on the main field featuring Astroturf and an electronic scoreboard, Curtis on a dusty “public” field. Each team would play, by itself, only whenever they got possession of the ball, and when they lost possession they would then stand and wait until they received a message that the other team on its own field had turned the ball back over to them. Since the fields were not within sight of each other, communication posed a particular challenge. The original plan was to use cell phones to signal each turnover, but Chancellor Joel Klein, under pressure from Mayor Bloomberg, refused to allow the public school students to possess cell phones on their field. Fortunately, a track meet was taking place in adjoining Icahn Stadium, and some of the fastest runners were persuaded to take messages back and forth between the fields.

Despite the disadvantage of Curtis playing on an inferior field, the lead swung back and forth until the final minute when Horace Mann pulled ahead for good. It was speculated that Curtis, as a DOE school, was more accustomed to bizarre circumstances, and they were thus able to adapt and stay competitive until the end.

Note from Gary Babad (seriously): There actually was a Mayors’ Cup Girls’ Lacrosse tournament on Randalls’ Island Saturday, and both public and private schools participated (on the same fields). I was there to watch my daughter play for the Cardozo team, and was privileged to watch some wonderful games, including the final in which Horace Mann did indeed top Curtis 6-5 in a thrilling last minute finish. It was a great day! Congratulations to the winners, and in fact to all of the young women, from public and private schools, who competed with such great enthusiasm, skill and sportsmanship.

It did occur to me, though, as I watched some of the games on a dusty side field, and others including the final on a beautiful new Astroturf field, that while the above scenario hasn’t happened yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if something like it did. One thing we can count on: once the city-funded renovations take place, the best fields will not be the ones that our public school kids will be using most of the time.

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