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Team USA Gears Up For World Championships At LaValle Stadium

Saturday afternoon’s game ended the way it began–with neither team ahead. The scoreboard showed a 13-13 tie.

But the final score wasn’t what the hundreds of youth players, parents and lacrosse enthusiasts who flocked to Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium cared about. They were there to see the individual performances of the 41 men in blue and white, battling it out in the final tryout for the 23-man roster that will represent the United States in next summer’s World Championships in Manchester.

Before the intra-squad scrimmage, Team USA Head Coach Mike Pressler made it clear that every player that puts on a helmet has a chance to make the roster.

‘We have not chosen anybody, nor have we disregarded anybody,’ Pressler said. ‘We will look at all three weekends evenly, and move forward from there.’

The players held nothing back, hitting and moving the ball with the intensity of a playoff game. More than fifteen different players found the back of the net, with Kevin Leveille (Chicago Machine) leading the way with three goals for the blue team.

Ned Crotty (Duke University), one of only two players in the training pool still playing at the collegiate level, was important in attack, scoring twice and leading both teams with six shots on goal.

Midfielder Paul Rabil (Boston Cannons) also flexed his offensive muscles, contributing two goals over four shots on goal. His first goal was on a strong move through the middle, during which Rabil shrugged off several defenders and a vicious stick check before stuffing the ball into the net, awing the crowd.

Faceoff specialists Alex Smith (Washington Bayhawks) and Chris Eck (Boston Cannons) handled the majority of the faceoffs, with John Glynn (Long Island Lizards) and Stephen Peyser (Long Island Lizards) also taking a few from the ‘x’. Similar to the weekend at West Point, the faceoffs were nearly dead even.

Pressler said a decision still hasn’t been reached as to whether Team USA will carry one or two FOGO’s to Manchester.

‘That’s one of the first things I think we’re going to have to address,’ he said. ‘If you take one specialist, then guys like Stephen Peyser and John Glynn become more important because you’re going to need at least two faceoff guys,’ he added, ‘But with Glynn and Peyser, both could make the team anyway regardless of the faceoffs, just based on their other abilities.’

The goalkeeping situation also remains unresolved. Mickey Jarboe (Quicksilver LC) started for the blue side, while Adam Fullerton (Denver Outlaws) started for the whites. Brian Dougherty (Long Island Lizards) played the second and third quarters for the blues before playing a piece of the fourth quarter for the white team.

‘It’s going to be a tough call,’ Pressler said. ‘The credit goes to the players because they made it that tough.’

Pressler stressed that the coaching staff will use all three weekends to evaluate the players.

‘There were certainly some guys who stood out today,’ he said. ‘We’ve got guys who didn’t play as well against Navy, and played great today. We had guys who played very well against Navy, but today were not at the same level.’

Now, he said, it’s on the coaches to pick the best squad to bring the gold medal back to America.

‘We’re going to try to find a way to get it right here,’ he said. ‘That’s our job.’

The final 23-man squad will be announced at noon on Monday, Nov. 2 on the US Lacrosse website.

Notes:

‘bull; The coaches were in the stands, with an equipment manager handling the subbing. They wanted to be away from the players to see what they could do without having to manage the game.
‘bull; Coach Pressler wouldn’t compare this team to the 2006 team that lost to Canada in the finals, but did comment on the quality of this squad: ‘At the end of the day, the 23 we do select are going to be very worthy and are going to give us the best chance at gold in Manchester,’ he said. ‘
‘bull; Pressler and his staff were looking for several different things going into this final training game. ‘We’re looking for players with a team-first attitude-offensive players who make the extra pass, defensive players that play team D,’ he said. ‘We want to certainly exploit the transition game, and we must be able to win faceoffs at a high percentage. If we have the ball, we’re going to create some great offense.’
‘bull; To address the faceoff issue, Pressler had scripted the faceoffs so that Eck and Smith would face off against each other, but also so that Glynn and Peyser would face off against Eck or Smith. He wanted to get a good feel of what each guy could do in order to make a decision on one or two FOGO spots.

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