The Hill Academy Edges IMG Academy 21-20 In Crossover Clash
On Saturday two of the top high school prep programs met in what was dubbed the 'North America Crossover Clash.' IMG Academy out of Bradenton, Florida, and The Hill Academy from Vaughan, Ontario in Canada met at Nazareth College in a game that featured over 30 Division I committed players.
It was the Hill Academy that came out on top of a back-and-forth game by the score of 21-20. The people that were in attendance on the hot and sunny afternoon were treated to some great lacrosse between arguably two of the very best teams in North America.
Catching up with Hill Academy coach Merrick Thompson after the game, he discussed how the meeting came together.
"IMG had a really good year and they asked us to play and we donít duck anyone," he said. "If someone wants to play us we'll play them. And it was within budget too so a credit to them for flying up."
He added, "You just want to play the best and that's why our guys have so much success at the next level."
The Hill Academy's established relationship with Nazareth College made the Golden Flyers campus in Rochester the destination for the game. The lacrosse fans from Western NY that were able to make it out were treated to a high-scoring game played at an incredibly high level.
The lead was exchanged multiple times throughout the contest and was knotted at 20 with 8:13 to go in the fourth quarter on what was unofficially Jeff Teat's (Cornell '16) fifth goal of the game. With under a minute to go Clarke Petterson (Cornell '15) cleared the ball the length of the field and found Kyle Marr (Johns Hopkins '15) in front of the goal with just 42.6 seconds remaining. The Pride was able to hold off IMG for the balance and secured the win. Marr, who hails from Clifton Park, N.Y. and is the son of Albany coach Scott Marr, ended up the game's hero, as his goal was the game winner.
Thomson, who starred at Albany and later in Major League Lacrosse and the National Lacrosse League, pointed to the play of Petterson as the difference in the game. He said, "He is probably the best player in high school lacrosse. He plays man-down, faces off, plays man-up, and plays 6-on-6 offense. There's not a better player out there. He's our heart, he's always pushing these guys to never give up and to never quit."
Teat was another player that stood out for the Hill. He made plays all afternoon with and without the ball and even played on the man-down unit with a long pole. He is poised for a lot of success at the next level.
Another standout for The Hill was Riley Curtis (Undecided '17) who scored three goals in the game including an EMO tally in the third.
IMG despite coming out on the losing end had plenty of highlights and players that stood out for them. Massimo Bucci (Georgetown '15) had three goals on the afternoon and was a big contributor on offense. Mitchell Laffin (Undecided '15) had two highlight reel goals, back-to-back in the second quarter. On the first he caught the ball above the crease and shot the ball directly over his head with his back to the goal. His second was an underhanded scoop shot falling away from the goal.
One of the most talked about players in high school lacrosse is the junior attakman Tehoka Nanticoke (Undecided '16). The Hill decided to lock him off with their short stick Nate Emery (Richmond '15), who did a nice job of limiting Nanticoke's touches. But when he was able to get the ball he drew doubles and even triple teams very quickly. He finished the game with at least one goal and several assists.
Tyler Liotta (Hofstra '15) had a strong showing for IMG, winning a majority of the draws he took and starting transition for the Ascenders the entire game. He had great success even while matched up against the Hill's Matt Kim (Quinipiac '16) and Justin Inacio (Ohio State '17), two strong FOGOs coming out of Canada. The Ascenders scored a half dozen goals right off the draw.
Robert Hudson (Vermont '15) was a midfielder who was everywhere for IMG all afternoon. Goalie Max Smith, who hails from Skaneateles, N.Y., had a nice game and made all the saves he should and stole a bunch of goals from the Hill on some point-blank opportunities.
Overall, it was a game that played out like most thought it would, with two powerhouse programs going at each other for a full 60 minutes. Forty-one combined goals in a game that didn't necessarily feature bad defense, it was more because it was one of the most competitive high school games of the season, and without question one of the year's most exciting. One can only hope these two squads can make this a yearly event, because, if they don't, the lacrosse world would be missing out.
Ken Stockmann hails from Long Island, where he played his high school lacrosse at Smithtown in Suffolk County. He went on to play Division III lacrosse at SUNY Plattsburgh from 1999 to 2001, where he served as an assistant coach for three years after his playing career. Ken currently lives in Rochester, N.Y., where he has been a junior varsity, modified and youth lacrosse coach. In early 2014, he began covering Division III lacrosse for Inside Lacrosse. Follow him on Twitter @Longstick33.