The IMG Nationals, a year-end indoor lacrosse national championship event run in conjunction with the American Indoor Lacrosse Association, concluded on Sunday with championships awarded inthe U15, U17 and U19 divisions. The competition at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. was intense, with Six Nations Territory teams cleaning up as the Thunder Tribe (U15), Thunder Tribe (U17) and Tonawanda Braves (U19) took the titles. Each of the finals were played in a triple-header preceding the National Lacrosse League game between the Philadelphia Wings and Buffalo Bandits, and the winners were honored at halftime.
After a dominant run through the IMG Nationals (Field Event) in November, the IMG Academy U19s picked up right where they left off with a string of crushing victories to open pool play, before dropping a game to the Six Nations’ Tonawanda Braves in the last pool play matchup of the day. The outcome of that game would be prophetic, as the two elite squads met again in the U19 final, with the Tonawanda Braves besting the IMG Academy Ascenders by a final score of 13-8.
Prior to the final, Tonawanda made short work of their opponents in pool play by a combined margin of 45-18, with wins against Bishop Shanahan (15-4), Baggataway (15-7) and IMG Academy (13-7). In the semifinal, they locked down the Baggatatway offense for a 9-0 win to advance to the final.
The Thunder Tribe of the Six Nations Territory continued their dominance in the U17 division after winning the U17 title of November’s IMG Nationals (Field). The Thunder Tribe ran through the competition flawlessly, defeating their opponents in pool play by a combined tally of 50-10. In the semifinal, they dispatched Shamrocks-AILA 16-7 to advance to the final against IMG Academy U17, emerging victorious with an 11-7 win.
Head coach Darris Kilgour said of the team’s performance, “We came down here with a goal, and we achieved that goal.”
Leading the charge toward their goal was Vern Hill. Hill netted five goals in the championship game, and during one matchup on Saturday, tallied as many as 10 goals. More impressively, many of the U17 champion’s roster was young enough to qualify for U15 competition.
If the U17 edition was not impressive enough, the Thunder Tribe’s U15 squad was a juggernaut through the weekend. Their first shot across the bow came with a 28-4 pummeling of Shamrocks U15 in their pool play opener, and the Tribe never looked back. The Thunder Tribe U15s outscored their opponents by an average of 19.3 goals per game. In the final, Thunder Tribe took care of business, knocking off Mesa Fresh, 16-5.
“We were able to stay composed and play under control which was a huge advantage,” remarked Thunder Tribe U15 head coach Emmett Printup.
Printup added, “We are very familiar with box lacrosse and it is great to see the U.S. more interested in it, and we are proud to help grow the game in the United States.”
The team was led by superstar 14-year old goalie Briley Miller, who allowed an average of less than 3 goals per game (2.6), who used his size and quickness to make it virtually impossible to get a clean shot on goal all weekend.