The NXT Lacrosse Philly Showcase is happening this weekend. The event kicked off Friday night in South Philadelphia at the fields on 10th & Bigler St. Due to frost and the cold weather it had to be moved from the grass field at Citizens Bank Park.
It started off with a seventh grade All-Star game with kids from Philadelphia and New Jersey, followed by another All-Star game with the eighth graders. There was some fantastic high school action that saw Episcopal Academy face off against St Augutine Prep. Following the matchup the lacrosse clubs took the field. LB3 ATlanta, Freedom Lacrosse, NXT LC, Laxachusetts, Mesa Fresh, and HEADstrong. All of these clubs are junior and seniors in high school. Some have already signed a letter of intent for college next season and the year after. Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, North Carolina, and Maryland just to name a few.
On Saturday, Day 1 of the showcase started with a clear blue sky and very chilly temperatures. The temperature was to stay in the 30s all day, and even though the sun was shining it still made for a cold day. But that did not stop these kids as registration was at 7 am and the games starting at 9 am. This is an individual showcase for the boys. Juniors and Seniors from up and down the east coast, from Conneticut, to Florida, and from New York to California theses kids have come out to display their talent for college recruiters. Kids from Ontario and British Columbia have even arrived for the event.
After the morning warmup games were played, two teams of 20 were selected for the All-Star Game for the class of 2016 and 2017. We also had a King of the X Challenge.
The competition was very competitive. After all the smoke cleared we had our final two competitors. Representing the Class of 2016 from Council Rock South was Brendan Patterson, and from the Class of 2017 from New Egypt High School was Kyle Prouty would battle in a best of five battle.
Each faceoff was a battle between the two, with each player winning alternating wins until the final faceoff. Just like the first four battles at the X, the final one was no different, each player not giving an inch and leaving it all out there. Until Kyle Prouty (2017) finally came away with the final draw to be crowned King of the X.
Both All-Star Games were fantastic. First we had the Class of 2017 battling it out with the Orange team defeating the Black team 10-9. Orange team battled back fter trailing at halftime 6-4. Johnny Hincks (Belmont Hill HS-MA), James Sanderson, and Colby Smith (Hempfield HS-PA) scored two goals each for Orange. For the Balck team, Tommy Sopko from Conestoga HS (PA) and Ryan Magnuson from Northport NY scored two each.
The Class of 2016 All-Star Game was just as exciting as the 2017. This time the team that had the lead from the start had the lead at the end. Blue team defeated Red 7-5 after leading 5-1 at the half. Blue was led by Jackson Herrick from the University School in California and Matthew Treiber from Medfield HS in Massachusetts each scoring twice. For Red, local product Eric Haab from Episcopal Academy scored twice in defeat.
Both of these games lived up to the expectations. Strong defensive play, great transition, and some great scoring opportunities. These games could of been higher scoring, but the goaltenders in both All-Star Games played fantastic.
Blake Goodman (2016- Shady Side PA), Andrew Harwood (2016-Bronxville-NY), George Peele (2016-King Low Heywood Thomas-CT), Stephen, Hogan (2016-Central Bucks West-PA), Joe Theuer (2017-Loyola-CA), Gib Versfeld (2017-Hun-PA), Tucker Ballbach (2017-Radnor-PA), Jake Stout (2017-Loyola Blakefield-MD) were all outstanding, making some 10 bell saves. Their stick and passing skills were outstading as well.
Many new friendships are being made as the rosters will have kids from all over the United States and Canada mixed together. Some players in the even who have commited to certain colleges are making sure they play well together as they find out they are going to be teammates. Friendships are not just being made with the players, but the parents are not only friendly toward each other, but they are being supportive of all the players, even those who are going against their kids.
On Sunday the Invitational will be focused on high school teams and the lacrosse clubs. Thirty-four club teams and 14 elite High Schools will participate. These games will be very highly competitive. Local schools, Conestoga, Downington East and host Episcopal Academy will be competing for bragging rights and maybe even to get a slight edge should these teams meet during the regular season or playoffs during the upcoming season.
Many of the players that competed in the Individual Showcase on Saturday, including the ones listed above will be in the Sunday Showcase with there teams that they play with during the regular season.
Over 100 coaches and recruiters are on hand this weekend. Just like the players, they have come from as far as California, Texas, along with the east coast being represented by Maryland, Georgetown, Providence, Swarthmore, just to name a few.
This is the fifth year for the event which gives kids an extra chance to show their athletic skills to the college recruiters and coaches.
Brett Manney (Dir. of Showcase Lacrosse) and Matt Chandik (Communications Coordinator have the event running very smoothly. But it takes more then just these two gentlemen to keep it going. They have a very capable staff working concessions, directing people where they need to go, answering questions, etc. There were warming tents available as well or those seeking the comfort of some heat, but the smiles on the faces of the NXT employees could be enough to keep you warm.
There is no doubt that the NXT is leading the way in showcasing talent for the colleges, and their program is second to none.
For more information on NXT go to their site: http://www.nxtlacrosse.com