By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/20/14
Attackman AJ Witherell (Salesianum School) scored his fourth goal early in the second overtime and 2017 Hunter Mazur (Strath Haven) won 13 of 14 face-offs as NXT defeated Brotherhood Lacrosse (N.J.), 6-5, today in the 2015 championship game of the Patriot Games at Palisades High.
NXT rallied from a 4-2 second-half deficit and took a 5-4 lead on two goals by Witherell sandwiched around a tally by Steve Hildebrand (Conestoga). Brotherhood’s Joe Mayernik (Pearl River, NY) tied it with 4:30 to go and both teams were hurt by turnovers in the first overtime.
Mazur won the opening face-off in the second overtime and Witherell blasted home the game-winner.
“It’s great for the 2015s to finish as champions 2015s before we go off to college,” said Witherell. “Hunter really helped a lot. It’s great to see a 2017 showing up big for us, getting the possession in overtime. We wanted t get that first possession and make that our last shot of the game.”
Mazur – the starting face-off specialist this spring at Strath Haven – was undaunted about playing in the 2015 tourney.
“I have to owe it to the 2015s; they were very supportive,” said Mazur, who was the King of X 2017 champion last fall at the Philly Showcase. “They helped me with groundballs and tips and if I got frustrated when I got the ball knocked out of my stick they were supportive. All around there was great teamwork to get us through it.
“The 2015s were a great team to play with. The defense was awesome and there was good camaraderie. It was my first championship of the year and it was awesome to win it with these guys.”
NXT also got a goal from Sam Gargs (Owen J. Roberts) and strong goaltending all tourney from John Roulston (Conestoga, Drexel) and Zach Longacre (Kennett).
NXT coach Andy Hayes noted the special feeling of watching a team he has coached for four years close out with a title.
“When we share the ball … we outshot them probably four or five to one but we just weren’t scoring,” he said. “The kids kept playing and kept battling. It’s an awesome group of kids with a lot of good players from a lot of high schools.
“This is another NXT team that started to play very well at the tail end of their careers. They won three or four championships. I am very proud of them.”
Added Witherell: “We’ve all been together and we show up at every tournament and practice twice a week. We are all friends so it’s great to win it with your brothers.”