April 9, 2010

Bryant's Roberts Named to Team England

from press release

– Bryant University junior faceoff specialist Evan Roberts has earned the right to play for his country and compete for gold this summer at the 2010 Men's Lacrosse World Championships – well, for one of his countries, anyway.

A dual citizen of both the United States and England, where his father was born and raised, Roberts becomes the fourth person and second player associated with Bulldog lacrosse to earn a spot at this summer's World Championships in Manchester, England July 15-24.

"Speaking for our entire program, we are absolutely thrilled for Evan Roberts to be named to the English National Team to compete in the 2010 World Championships," said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler. "Over the last month, Evan has really emerged as a top faceoff specialist, but all of us who wear the Black and Gold know he's much more than that."

But he will also be playing against everything he's known on a lacrosse field over the past three seasons. That's because when Roberts suits up for the host country as a member of Team England on July 19, he will not only be taking on the country he calls home in the US, but also the men he calls "coach" in Pressler, also the head coach of the American side, and first-year Bulldog assistant Matt Zash.

"I'm definitely excited to play against Coach Pressler," said Roberts, who resides in West Cornwall, Vt. "But it will certainly be a big challenge to play against Team USA both for me personally and for my team as a whole since the United States is such an international lacrosse powerhouse."

But come July 19 when the teams meet in round robin action, Roberts may just have to take one of his coaches on in the most literal sense of the word.

Because while Roberts will get a different view of his collegiate coach when he faces off against Team USA, at least Pressler will remain on the sidelines. Not so with Zash, who fills one of the 23 roster spots for the Red, White and Blue, meaning Roberts might just have to settle it with this coach on the field.

"I haven't really thought about it much," said Zash of the prospect of competing against a player he currently coaches. "But I wish him the best of luck and look forward to beating him on the field.

"There will be absolutely no mercy for anybody we're playing against," he added. "And that includes Bryant players, past and present."

Present, of course, meaning Roberts. But past? That would be 2009 Tewaaraton Trophy finalist, Bryant graduate and NCAA Division I all-time leading scorer Zack Greer, who will suit up for Team USA's ultimate rival and neighbor to the north, his home country of Canada.

But will Manchester, England turn into a Bryant reunion come July? Doubtful.

"I said to him the other day after I heard the news," said Pressler, "I said, 'Evan, I wish good luck to your team in all the games except one.'"

The common bond between the four brings about positives and negatives for all parties involved.

"He already knows the scouting report on me because he already knows how I play," Roberts said of Pressler. "So I guess the scout will be pretty easy. But I know how Zash plays and I know Coach Pressler's system, so hopefully it will be a good day and a good game, and England will be able to pull it out."

Familiarity is a two-way street. But putting all competition, friendly grudges and egos aside, Pressler knows what this means for Roberts, and for his Bryant University program as a whole.

"Evan is just finishing his junior year," Pressler said, "so the experience of going over and playing in the World Games will only benefit him tremendously and, in turn, the Bryant lacrosse program when he returns in the fall for his senior year."

And apart from all the storylines and all the crossroads and all that is to come in Manchester in just three months time, Roberts is ecstatic to be a part of it all. He is one of four on the English National Team roster who currently play for American universities, joining Ohio State's Jordan Levack, University of Denver's Todd Baxter and Whittier College's Sam Russell.

"I'm excited for the opportunity just to be on the team, and it's such an added bonus to be playing at home, in front of your home fans and in a friendly atmosphere," he said. "The spirit and enthusiasm that will undoubtedly surround our games will definitely play to our favor and help us to really get amped up to play – and win – in front of our home fans."

It's been a wild ride for Roberts over the past five months, from spending five days at the Manchester tryouts over Winter Break to opening the 2010 Bryant lacrosse season to taking over the primary faceoff duties to being named to the national team roster.

But the ride is just beginning.

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