By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/1/13
At Mesa Fresh, they call it “We-Ball” instead of “Me-Ball” when talking about the style of play for a championship lacrosse team.
And that’s the style of play Mesa Fresh 2015 players said it took to win the Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions Rising Stars Division (Sophomores) championship Monday at Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Mesa Fresh defeated Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), 7-3, for the crown. Mesa Fresh had rallied for a dramatic 8-7 overtime victory over top-seeded Northern Lacrosse of Canada in the semis.
Mesa Fresh programs have won back-to-back Rising Stars championships. Last year the 2014 Mesa squad won the crown; this year Mesa 2014 finished a solid fifth in the Elite (Juniors, Seniors) division.
“Everybody played ‘We-ball’ and not ‘Me-ball,’ we played as a team not a specific player,” said Mesa Fresh goalie Sean McGovern (Central Bucks East). “That’s what’s great about Mesa. We play as a team, not as individuals.”
“Coach (Peter) Rohr always talks about playing ‘Mesa ball,’” added midfielder Brendan Jacob (Haverford School). “We really worked hard. Our passes were crisp and our cuts were great; we don’t like to play 1-on-1 ball.”
In the championship game, Mesa Fresh got two goals each from Jacob and fellow Haverford School teammates Grant Ament (sophomore) and Dox Aitken (freshman). Drew Supinski (Haverford School) also scored for Mesa Fresh, which opened a 4-0 lead in the first half and flashed brilliant defense and goaltending all day.
Mesa Fresh’s defense focused heavily on FCA midfielder Curtis Zappala, a Maryland commit known well by Mesa players and coaches. Zappala, who had one assist, was a starter on Episcopal Academy’s Inter-Ac Invitational champions last year.
“Our coaches told us to lock him down,” said Mesa defenseman Mike Mulqueen (Malvern Prep). “He was the main guy we wanted to shut down.
“I am so happy for our team. We worked so hard for this and all our chemistry came together. We finally showed everyone we can do this and win a national title.”
In the semis, Mesa Fresh fell behind by three goals early to the powerful Canadian squad, which was using back-door cuts to score on close-in shots. But the Mesa Fresh defense adjusted well.
“We saw their back-door cuts were working in the slot so we adjusted our guys to get two slides in there,” said Mulqueen.
Mesa Fresh won the game in overtime on a goal by Aitken, who received a pass from Phil Poquie following a key groundball by Ament.
“We came together as a defense in the semifinal game,” said McGovern. “We settled down and set up our slides after having a little trouble on the backside. That transitioned into the title game; we played great on defense the rest of the way.”
Added attackman Corey Richards (Haverford School): “It’s a great feeling. This doesn’t happen often. We focused on sharing the ball and working hard off the ball. It was a fun time. We are really close as a team.
“The (Northern Lacrosse) goalie was amazing. He stood on his head to keep it close. But our defense held strong and helped us come back from the 3-goal deficit.”
Jacob said McGovern, and fellow goalies Jack Green (Conestoga) and Alex Andersen (Radnor) were strong in the cage the entire tourney.
“It’s real satisfying coming all this way,” Jacob said. “I don’t think anybody wanted to go home as a second-place finisher. We wanted the gold medal.”
The rest of the team included Jake Peden, Alex Massino, Lane Odom, Logan Atkinson, Ben Euler, Jack Twohig, Peter Rohr, Ben Hiltebeitel, Tucker McBride, Noah Lejman, Beau Kush, Matt Miller, and Shane McBride.
Coaches were Mark Aitken, Peter Rohr, and Brad Ament
Team members that did not travel to Florida: Damase Bagbonbon, Jake Hervada and Chris Sabia.