By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 12/31/13
Forry Smith earned championship game MVP honors by collecting four goals and two assists today as Mesa Fresh 2016 defeated the Checkmate Sharks (N.Y.), 9-3, in the finals of the Rising Stars Division at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions at Wesley Chapel, Fla.
The victory gave Mesa Fresh teams their third straight Dick’s Rising Stars (9th-10th grade) title. Last year the 2015 team claimed gold and the year before the 2014 team was victorious.
Meanwhile, in the Elite Division, the Delaware Silverbacks finished fourth after dropping a 10-7 decision to Florida Elite in the third-place consolation game.
Smith (Haverford School, Johns Hopkins commit) got great support from Brendan O’Neill (Haverford School, JHU), who had two goals and an assist and Kyle Anderson (Malvern Prep), who also had two goals and an assist. Michael Sowers (Upper Dublin, Princeton) added three assists and Addison Mueller (Malvern Prep) had a goal.
The goaltending was shared by the steady hands of Alex DeMarco (Haverford School, Penn) and Sean McKee (Penn Charter). Meanwhile, at the face-off X, Colby Reeder (Salesianum School) and Cody Mazurek (La Salle) stood out especially in the semifinals and held their own vs. the Sharks’ standout face-off man Kyle Brattan (Garden City 2015, Air Force commit).
Mesa Fresh coach David Sowers said the midfield work of Tyler Will (Haverford School, Penn State), Tommy McNamara (Haverford School, Notre Dame) and O’Neill was standout, especially in the transition. Other that made key contributions at midfield were Nick Vernacchio, (Upper Dublin), Dox Aitken (Haverford School, Virginia), Alex Wagner (Bishop Shanahan), Conor Wall and Luke Desperito (Haverford School, Virginia), who missed the title game with a hamstring injury. Sumner Brumbaugh (Episcopal Academy) also was a contributor at attack.
The defense was particularly strong, led by Jack Rapine (Upper Dublin, Johns Hopkins), Patrick Lyons (Salesianum School, North Carolina), Nick Cardile (Avon Grove, Penn State), Henry Winebrake (Upper Dublin), Liam Hare (Spring-Ford), Cole Thomas (Malvern Prep), Andy Westby (Haverford School).
Mesa Fresh’s toughest game, however, was its 14-11 semifinal win over Six Nations Thunder Tribe. In that game, McKee made two key saves on 1-on-1 situations to seal the win.
The Silverbacks, despite losing twice today, surprised most by making it to the Final Four. In the semis, though, the Silverbacks fell prey to the Road Warriors (N.C.), 11-4. Connor Swalm (Middletown) and James Hamory (St. Mark’s) as well as Florida pickups Noah Menendez (Tampa Jesuit) and Bo Garrison (Gulf Coast) each scored once.
In the third-place game, Swalm had three goals and Dylan McCleaft (Penncrest) was brilliant in the goal in the second half when the Silverbacks made it interesting. Other goal scorers were Garrison, Dalton Ziemba (St. Mark’s), Zach Salazar (Wharton, FL) and Terry Logue (Salesianum).
This article will be updated