COLUMBIA - Lacrosse joined the Show-Me State Games as a sport three years ago, and since then, the Braves men's lacrosse team has settled for silver three times. The team was 2-0 entering competition Sunday at Cosmopolitan Park, and after winning its first match of the morning in overtime, it advanced to the finals undefeated to meet the St. Louis Samurai, who were also undefeated.
Jesse Politowski and Brian Smith founded Braves Lacrosse in 2004 as an instructional clinic for the Clayton High School lacrosse team, and it has been steadily growing.
"It started as camps for kids, but then we started the men's team so we could play," Politowski, 26, said.
He and Smith played lacrosse for Lindenwood University before forming the Braves in 2004. Since then, they have added a women's division to its fall lacrosse league.
Politowski said the Braves knew they would meet the Samurai in the finals this year because it is routine. They have lost to the Samurai in the finals every summer, and Sunday's match was no different.
Still, Politowski said winning silver again was an accomplishment because the talent is getting better at the Show-Me Games. Plus, their rivals are a team built on former Division I lacrosse players from across the nation. Ryan Carter of the Samurai, played with Butler University in Indianapolis for four years and is now an assistant coach with Fontbonne University in St. Louis. He said he put the team together by making phone calls to friends who played lacrosse at the college level at different universities.
Politowski said the Braves realize how talented the Samurai are.
"It's to the point where it's a good rivalry and we talk trash, but in the end we're still friends," he said.