By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/8/14
NXT L.C.’s Colby Smith knew exactly where he was going with the ball when entrusted with the penalty shot in the final second of a tie game in the High School Class A Division title game today at the Philadelphia Indoor Lacrosse Championships.
“It was definitely a pressure situation, but a great position to be in,” said Smith, a 2017 from Hempfield. “I had taken a few (Penalty shots) before and I always went left.
“I figured I would do the same as I had always done and it ended up going in.”
Smith converted, giving him five goals in all and NXT a surprising 13-12 triumph over Mesa Fever 2016 here at the SportsPlex in Feasterville. Mesa Fever, with many major Division I commits, won the Dick’s Tournament of Champions (national outdoor) title in December and has been a dominant force in the club scene for a year.
NXT, which featured all but two 2017 players, got its chance to win after Mesa Fever was called for an illegal ride with the clock running out.
“It was definitely a great game,” said Smith. “It came down to the end; we couldn’t have had a better finish.
“It was a rush. We were fighting hard all day. It was a real team effort. It’s great to play such a skilled team and end up with a win.”
One big reason NXT stayed close all game was the standout play of 2017 goalie Tucker Ballbach (Radnor).
“It’s crazy, especially beating a 2016 team from Mesa,” Ballbach said. “You see these kids playing for their high school teams and they’re great. It’s awesome.”
Mesa Fever led, 5-2, but after NXT drew even at 5-5 late in the first half the teams were never more a goal apart.
NXT took leads of 9-8, 10-9, 11-10 and 12-11, but Mesa’s Forry Smith (Haverford School 2016 attackman, Johns Hopkins commit) tallied his third of the game to tie it with 1:35 to play.
Michael Sowers (Upper Dublin 2016 attackman, Princeton) scored four goals to lead Mesa Fever, while Kevin Todd (Spring-Ford 2016 attackman) and Tommy Sopko (2017 Conestoga attackman) each added three goals.
“We kept coming back and kept scoring and that is a testament to our coaches,” said Ballbach. “Some guys were cramping and we were, short on numbers, but we pushed through and kept going.
“I think it was fun to have this opportunity and f we definitely took advantage of it.”
NXT head coach Marty Kupprion said the title caps a strong fall/winter season.
“The game was so back-and-forth, it was a beautiful offensive game,” he said. “For our program, it was an outstanding testament to all the work we put in.
“To put it together in a championship game against great competition means a ton for those kids. As freshmen, it’s a great way to cap off a successful fall and winter.”