2015 Mesa Fresh Fever win IL Championship

Updated: June 18, 2014
2015 Mesa Fresh wins IL 6-18-14

2015 Mesa Fresh wins IL 6-18-14(Inside Lacrosse Photos: Casey Vock)

It was a battle of the hotbeds versus the hinterlands. North vs. South. The Main Line going up against the Peach State. And in the end, both teams walked away leaving everything on the turf at Inside Lacrosse Invitational.

Philadelphia’s Mesa Fresh 2015 beat Georgia’s LB3 2015 in dramatic fashion in the final championship game of the inaugural event, taking their first and final lead after scoring three goals late in the contest to walk away with a draining, compelling 9-8 victory.

Mesa Fresh struggled early against its Southern counterpart, which attacked aggressively on defense and used ball and position movement to score early goals. LB3 led by as much at 5-2 in the first half.

“We actually scouted them before and they had changed their entire offense to backside slides, which totally flummoxed us,” Mesa Fresh coach Peter Rohr said. “So we had to make some adjustments. We stopped sliding, we never went, and we adjusted our attack to compensate for their aggressive defense.”

IL’s No. 1 current rising junior Dox Aitken (Haverford School 2016/Virginia) lived up to his title, leading Mesa Fresh scoring with four goals and one assist on the day. Aitken drove his team’s comeback effort in the second half, scoring three of his four goals in during the late period. Aitken, a talented 6-2, 185-pound athlete, also held the ball effectively in the final minute to close out the contest.

“This performance today, when he comes out, he’s dehydrated, he plays midfield for us, switches to attack, gets two key groundballs and get a man-down goal when we’re short a guy,” Rohr said. “It’s incredible. Dox deserves all the accolades he gets.”

Corey Richards (Haverford School 2015/Dickinson), Lane Odom (Haverford School 2015/Hopkins), Beau Kush (Avon Grove 2016/UNC) and Brendan Jacobs (Haverford School 2015/Navy) all scored for Mesa in the title game.

LB3 led or was tied with Mesa Fresh for the majority of the game, only relinquishing the lead for good on the game’s final moments.

Star attackman Nathan Solomon (Centennial 2015/Syracuse) led LB3’s scoring effort with five points on three goals and two assists, working effectively as the team’s offensive catalyst. All three of his goals were scored in the first half. Tyler Wilks (McCallie School 2015/Providence) assisted with two goals and one assist. Cal Swanson (Alpharetta 2015), Preston Tippett (Roswell 2015) and Ethan Bish (Peachtree Ridge 2015) all scored one apiece.

Special teams were especially strong for LB3 in Wednesday’s contest. Midfielder Zach Stephenson (McCallie School 2015) challenged Mesa Fresh’s Charles Kelly (Malvern Prep 2015/UNC) effectively through the game. Goalie Mason King (John Creek 2015) made six saves.

With the title win, Mesa finished 6-0 in the IL Invitational 2015 bracket. Along the way they beat teams from Florida, California and North Carolina. LB3 was its biggest competitor though, winning their two contests against the Georgia program by a combined two goals.

“ [LB3] took us to the last effort,” Rohr said. “We played a Florida team who had one of the best goalies I’ve seen. We played a team from California, had athletes up and down the field. Lacrosse is a national sport and you can recruit anywhere in this country.”

With a lack of senior tournaments and most team members already committed to NCAA programs, Wednesday’s victory will be the last for Mesa Fresh 2015 as constructed currently. The program finishes with 66 wins, two losses and seven ties. Nineteen players are currently committed to Division 1 and at least 22 overall to NCAA teams.

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