More than 40 teams from 15 states and Canada faced off for the second annual IMG Nationals year-end lacrosse national championship at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Nov. 21-23. After two intense days of competition, four teams earned national championships in the U13, U15, U17 and U19 divisions.
In the U19 division, it was a perfect ending to the IMG Academy National Team’s fall schedule, who repeated as U19 national champions and capped off a 17-0 record through three fall tournaments. The last team that stood between IMG Academy and a second straight IMG Nationals title was Team Louisiana of New Orleans, La.. Team Louisiana earned the #2 seed after a solid 2-1 record in pool play, and made an impressive run through the championship rounds, but were overwhelmed by IMG Academy 26-1 in the final. Notably, the IMG Academy National team outscored opponents by a combined margin of 110-14 in seven total games (qualifying and tournament play).
In the U17 division, the IMG Academy Varsity team added another title to the program’s trophy case after an impressive showing of its own. The Varsity team, coming off a 3-3 performance at the UpLax Tournament in Maryland earlier this month, bounced back with a perfect 6-0 record, outscoring opponents by a combined margin of 63-11. The Varsity squad earned a first round bye in the championship tournament, and turned up the heat in the final rounds on defense, only allowing a pair of goals through two games. In the final, IMG Academy Varsity upended the Bay Area Sand Sharks of Tampa, Fla. by a score of 9-1. The title marked the Varsity team’s first IMG Nationals title.
The U15 division came down to a battle between the Texas United, comprised of players from Dallas, Austin, Houston and everywhere in between, and the Lake Norman United Middle School Boys from Mooresville, N.C. Texas United got off to a strong start in pool play with a 3-0 record, entering the championship bracket with a bye as the #1 seed. Lake Norman, meanwhile, entered Sunday’s competition as the #3 seed after a 2-1 showing in pool play. In the final, Lake Norman gave Texas its strongest challenge of the weekend, but Texas held strong to earn the U15 national title by a narrow 5-4 margin. It was the first appearance by both clubs at the IMG Nationals.
Rounding out the competition was the U13 division was an all-Long Island, N.Y. matchup between Lax Army and Team Long Island. The Long Island clubs were the highest scoring in the U13 division throughout the weekend, with Team Long Island recording an impressive 61 goals through six games, with Lax Army right on their heels with 45 goals of their own on the weekend. The two met in pool play on Saturday, with Long Island coming out on top by a narrow 4-5 margin, and when the two met again in the final, it would be Long Island coming out on top once more by a score of 9-5.
For all the participating teams, it was an opportunity to play in front of college coaches from many of the top programs in the nation like Albany, Georgetown, Rutgers, Loyola and many others seeking out the next generation of collegiate lacrosse stars. Texas United and Team Long Island, in addition to earning national championships, were awarded a free week of camp at IMG Academy.
2014 IMG Nationals also featured the introduction of the U13 division. Last year’s champions were IMG Academy (U19), Six Nations Thunder Tribe (U17) and Atlanta Crush (U15).