That’s what Nation United 2019 coach Troy Kemp advised his midfielder Elijah Black, who had yet to find the scoresheet in a tense championship game against Primetime.
And that’s exactly what Black did, dodging down the right alley, taking a jump shot and depositing the ball past the keeper’s ear, lifting Nation United to a 6-5 double overtime victory over Primetime in the 2019 championship at the Inside Lacrosse Recruiting Invitational Wednesday.
“I said choke up if you beat your man, because you are one of the fastest kids on the field, and shoot it by his ear,” said Kemp on his advice to Black. “If you miss, that’s fine, life will go on. But I guarantee you the ball is going to go in the goal. And he did exactly that
Nation United trailed by two late in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the day, the 2018 Nation United team trailed 6-3 in the fourth before rallying a comeback and winning the ’18 championship in overtime. Spurred on by their ’18 teammates watching on the sideline, the 2019 Nation United players doubled down on late-game heroics. Carter Henry got one back at the 3:30 mark before Jordan Hayes tied it with a score with 1:25 left in the game. Recovering from earlier adversity shooting in the game, Black saved his best for the big moment and delivered the winner with a fantastic individual effort.
“A lot of these guys have been down in life at times. So if you’re used to it, you’re used to fighting back,” said Kemp. “We told them when we lost earlier in the tournament that this was an opportunity, a bigger gap, for that forward step. In the game, we said we were never going to worry about the scoreboard. We’re just going to take care of each other and take care of the ball, and we’ll be just fine. And I promise you, they never panicked.”
Malik Gay, Ellison Burt-Murray and Mac Maclean also netted goals for Nation United. Christian Ronda stood out offensively for Primetime with a goal and an assist, while Griffin Moore, Brett Tenaglia, Zachary Timmons and Joseph Corbett registered a goal each. Primetime goalie Andrew Calabrese stood tall late in the game, registering seven saves in the second half and the overtime periods.
Nation United’s stated mission is “to utilize elite-level lacrosse to inspire diversity. To foster long-lasting relationships that cross ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic boundaries, serving as the catalyst for increased participation in the lacrosse community.” The 2019 members were drawn from all over the country, and had only briefly practiced before playing in the Invitational. The sweep of the 2018 and 2019 divisions was a resounding victory for Nation United’s program and their mission.