April 21, 2014

Wills Makes History with Lizards Practice Squad Nod

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

Devon Wills became the first female to make an MLL roster in any capacity on Monday. (John Mecionis)

It's been a pretty good two days for Devon Wills.

On Sunday the USC women's lacrosse team, for which Wills is an assistant coach, knocked off top-20 program Stanford, its first win ever against a ranked opponent.

On Monday Wills became the first female named to a Major League Lacrosse roster in any capacity, making the New York Lizards' six-person practice squad to start the 2014 MLL season.

The Lizards incumbent starter, two-time MLL All-Star and Team USA hopeful Drew Adams, and former Duke and Stony Brook goalie Sean Brady were the two goalies named to the Lizards' 25-man active roster Monday. Wills and former North Carolina goalkeeper Chris Madalon are on the practice squad.

New York begins the MLL season on Sunday against the Rochester Rattlers as part of the league's opening weekend.

Wills, who has been on the U.S. women's national team since 2007 and won two World Cup titles with Team USA, went through a one-day tryout with the Lizards on April 5, and impressed Lizards staff and players with her performance.

"I would have no problem keeping her on, even if it's practice squad," Lizards coach Joe Spallina said afterward. "It's an adjustment. The league is so competitive, there's only so many spots. But I know a couple things: she fits in, she has learned to win, she's fearless and a great teammate. Those are components that we need. She's adjusting to the speed of the game.

Asked by LM if she would accept a spot on the practice squad should it come, Wills said "Absolutely."

"She did a great job," Spallina also said. "She wasn't flinching, she wasn't pulling off pipe. She stuck right in there. I was happy for her. I think there were a lot of people that probably didn't want her to do as well as she did. She was fearless. She made a lot of great stops. Men's lacrosse and women's lacrosse are two very different sports. I came in with an open mind and I left impressed. She did a heck of a job."

Wills didn't participate in the rest of training camp throughout April because of conflicts with USC's game schedule. The Women of Troy this weekend have a pair of games, against Northwestern in a historic game at Chicago's Wrigley Field on Saturday, and Sunday at Marquette.

The full Lizards roster can be found here. Shamel Bratton, formerly of Virginia and who has played on the LXM Pro Tour, also made New York's active roster.

Only one other female has played at any pro lacrosse level. Ginny Capicchioni, a former Sacred Heart goalie, in 2003 became the first woman to play in the National Lacrosse League in the final game of the regular season.

For a full recap of Wills' tryout day, click here. Check back to LaxMagazine.com for more on MLL roster announcements and MLL season preview content this week.

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