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January 27, 2011

Champion Challenge: Players to Watch

by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Katie Gallagher will lead the Terps' defense in their title defense after redshirting last year due to illness.

* New Uniforms for U.S. Women

Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event, will pit the U.S. national teams against college foes this weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Here are six players to watch from the various teams competing. Two games -- Team USA vs. Notre Dame men and Team USA vs. Maryland women -- will be broadcast on delay by ESPNU beginning at 10 p.m. Sunday.

Katie Gallagher, Maryland, Sr., Defense

Why It's Big for Her: After redshirting last season due to illness, Gallagher is being asked to lead the Terps' defense. Maryland is coming off a national championship year, and though Gallagher wasn't a huge part of the accomplishment on the field, playing in just four of 23 games, the low defender is one of three team captains this season. She'll lead the 'D' into a tough preseason assignment: facing a U.S. senior squad filled with offensive stars.

Shannon Gilroy, USA U19, Midfield

Why It's Big for Her: Nicknamed "The Franchise" by teammates at Northport High School on Long Island, where she's been a starter since eighth grade, Gilroy has a chance to gel with U.S. teammates as they prepare for August's FIL U19 World Championship in Hannover, Germany. The Florida-bound senior scored 97 goals and had 33 assists for Northport in 2010 despite missing four games with a hamstring injury. She scored a Long Island-high 113 goals in 2009.

John Kemp, Notre Dame, Soph., Goalie

Why It's Big for Him: Notre Dame's stout defense has a big chest protector to fill in the absence of 2010 NCAA tournament MVP, goaltender Scott Rodgers. Kemp, a sophomore and brother of former Irish All-American goalie Joey Kemp, competed with fifth-year senior Brendan Moore in the fall. Kemp figures to have the edge as he started two games in 2010 when Rodgers was injured. Another bonus: When Notre Dame faces Team USA, Kemp could play against Rodgers, pending his National Lacrosse League status.

Peet Poillon, USA, Midfield

Why It's Big for Him: The UMBC grad lit up Major League Lacrosse this summer with the champion Chesapeake Bayhawks, earning MLL most improved player honors with 41 points, third highest in the league. That was up from seven points Poillon's rookie season, which he mainly spent on the Boston Cannons' practice squad. How will he hang with Team USA?

Michelle Tumolo, USA, Attack

Why It's Big for Her: The USA staff indicated Tumolo may have a bright future in the national program when they made the Syracuse attacker the only true rising sophomore collegian (James Madison's Casey Ancarrow is a redshirt sophomore) on the U.S women's senior team. This is a chance to again show why that was the correct move. Tumolo set Syracuse freshman records in points (74) and assists (37) in 2010, helping the Orange to the NCAA semifinals.

Max Quinzani, USA, Attack

Why It's Big for Him: Former Duke teammate Ned Crotty has garnered plenty of accolades over recent years, including LM's 2010 Player of the Year honors. But Quinzani, often the finisher of Crotty's feeds, has been right there with him on the field — aside from the 2010 FIL World Championships last summer, when Crotty was the only then-current collegian on Team USA. Quinzani has an early chance here to impress selectors for the 2014 U.S. team.

Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event featuring the U.S. men's and women's national teams against top college programs, returns to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Jan. 29-30, 2011. Click here for more information, including game and clinic schedules.

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