By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/12/13
Mesa Fresh Lacrosse spent a night educating, entertaining and feeding the masses Thursday night at The Haverford School.
Along with Fever Lacrosse, Mesa Fresh held a Charity Night to raise money for “Checking for Cancer,” a highly-recognized invitational co-run by Haverford School coach John Nostrant – a cancer survivor whose tourney has raised nearly $100,000 to fight Colon, Testicular and Prostate cancer.
The event also featured a presentation on recruiting by Penn State coach Jeff Tambroni to players and parents. After that, everyone got to eat Mesa Fresh tacos and watch a summer game loaded with current and past Division I standouts as Mesa Fresh University edged GMH, 5-4, on a goal by Jordan Wolf (Lower Merion, Duke All-American and NCAA champion) in a Summer League of Southeastern Pennsylvania (SLLSEPA) showdown.
One other purpose of the event was to bring together past and present Mesa Fresh players. The club program, which has won many high-profile tournaments, began with a 2010 team and has team through the 2017 class.
“That was awesome to see the younger kids and their parents have a college coach talk about behind the scenes in Division I lacrosse,” said Mesa Fresh University defenseman Goran Murray, a 2011 Mesa grad who earned Third Team All-American honors this year as a sophomore at Maryland and played on the undefeated Haverford School team of 2011.
“The community got a taste of guys that grew up in the area and went to areas schools and are now playing college lacrosse. It’s a good event to get everyone out and watch the sport and help spread the sport.”
Murray – who had to cover GMH attackman and good friend Joey Sankey (Penn Charter, North Carolin) – had a message for younger players that are going through the rigors of college recruiting: Focus on enjoying the game and try to worry less about the recruiting side.
“To be honest I never got into lacrosse until ninth grade – guys like Hup (Chris Hepfeldt), Joe (McCallion), Matt (Walters), Conor (Kelly) and Carl (Walrath) got me into the sport,” he said. “Now, the recruiting is starting at a younger age, but kids just need to keep playing hard and have fun and focus on the game.
“If you keep playing hard, there will be a spot for you and a school for you.”
Tambroni, who has built Penn State into an NCAA playoff qualifier in three seasons since coming from Cornell, said that it can be hard for young players to deal with pressures of recruiting as it continues to occur at younger ages. But he agreed with Murray’s assessment.
“I can only imagine what it’s like to come out on the field and see 20, 30, 40 coaches on the sideline watching you play,” he said. “I am hoping it’s exciting rather than just (a) pressure (situation), but I get it, and I see they are under a great deal of pressure to perform.
“But the other part is that you need the right fit. Do your research. There are plenty of schools and they are looking for hard workers and great teammates.
“Only a handful of kids are going to be D1 All-Americans. So don’t pick a school because of the colors. Don’t try to put a square peg into a round hole.”
Tambroni said academics needs to be the main focus.
“I think kids think less about academics at a young age because they don’t know what to study yet. But I did talk about academics. There are three things to think about – academics, lacrosse and how it works socially. And parents need to be involved in the early recruiting.”
Nostrant, for his part, recommends that players pick one club team.
“College coaches are going to find them,” he said. “If they are good enough, they will recruit you. The kids are stressing themselves way too thin. I would love to process to change, but until it does you have to keep up with it we have to keep parents and kids educated.”
Bob Aitken, Founder of Mesa Fresh Lacrosse, was pleased to get all Mesa players and parents together for an event that also allowed people to enjoy a great lacrosse game.
“We are always looking for ways at Mesa to give back to the community through charity,” he said. “This allowed us to bring our teams together – we don’t have many chances to get the 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 teams together like this.
“We want kids to know there is a place to land once they go to college. And we got to support our summer league teams as well.”
Last year GMH defeated Mesa Fresh in the SLLSEPA Thursday championship game. This year Mesa Fresh is undefeated and it’s expected these two teams will content for the championship again. The game featured other D1 standouts such as Austin Kaut (GMH goalie, Springfield-Delco/Penn State), Josh Dionne (GMH, Duke) and Casey Ikeda (Mesa Fresh, Conestoga/Maryland). Kaut – a First Team All-American this year for Tambroni – and Wolf were the Phillylacrosse.com Co-Players of the Year in 2010.
“It was great to have this game. Mike Holloway (GMH Owner) runs a great program over there and this is a way to being kids to see a really good game,” Aitken said. “There are probably 30 or 40 D1 players playing now or graduated – it’s a great group of guys and always a very clean game.”