June 26, 2014

MLL All-Star Game: Team USA Edges MLL Stars, 10-9

by Kat Cornetta | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Box Score

Photo Gallery: Team USA 10, MLL All-Stars 9

Rob Pannell had a goal and two assists, potting the game-winner with under ten seconds left to lead Team USA to the win. (Bill Danielewski)

BOSTON – It was a busy week of lacrosse for Team USA. In training camp since Monday and preparing for the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship that starts July 10 in Denver, it would have been easy for the U.S. to come into Thursday night's MLL All-Star Game worn. But that was the last thing they could afford against a fiesty MLL All-Star squad.

Despite "a very sloppy third quarter," according to Team USA coach Richie Meade, the U.S. scored four fourth-quarter goals, including Rob Pannell's game winner with a mere 6.9 seconds remaining to defeat the MLL All-Stars 10-9 at Harvard Stadium.

"I thought we played very well in the first half, and probably didn't get our just rewards because their goalie (Jordan Burke) played very, very well," Meade said. "We faced off well, and we played well defensively at times."

Team USA and the MLL All-Stars were tit-for-tat for goals through the game's first half. Two and a half minutes into the game, Garrett Thul found himself stride-for-stride with MLL All-Star Jeremy Sieverts. Thul got a step forward on Sieverts and slipped a pass to Kevin Leveille, who shot it center on on Burke to get the U.S. on the board.

Justin Turri answered six minutes later for the MLL All-Stars, whipping a strong shot past Team USA goalie Jesse Schwartzman. Leveille found a pass from Pannell three minutes later and shot it up close on Burke to give Team USA a 2-1 edge.

Matt Danowski ran up from behind the U.S. net and found Peter Baum, who shot center onto Schwartzman and scored, tying the game at 2 after the first quarter.

The MLL All-Stars briefly overcame their faceoff woes, winning the opening draw of the second quarter. But Team USA soon controlled possession again, with Steele Stanwick registering the first of his many chances on the night as a shot flew just right of the net.

Thul showed an outstanding display of athleticism two minutes into the quarter, shooting the ball as MLL All-Star Kevin Drew laid him out perpendicular to the crossbar. The ball shot past Burke and in, giving Team USA the lead again.

Joe Walters then stole the show for the MLL All-Stars, ripping the first of his three goals on the night, all from the left side.

Stanwick answered Walters' goal by feeding Dave Lawson for a goal that allowed Team USA to re-establish its lead. Kevin Buchanan then caught the MLL All-Stars off guard, not being challenged as he ran up the middle of the field and scored to put Team USA up 5-3, its biggest lead of the game.

Danowski wouldn't let it stand long, though, beating strong coverage from Kyle Harrison to break free toward the net and score, bringing the MLL All-Stars within a goal heading into halftime.

Danowski and the MLL All-Stars then came out streaming in the third quarter, blanking Team USA. Danowski tied the game at 5 after burning three U.S. players with some outstanding footwork to hug up close to the net and score.

As the MLL All-Stars turned up their intensity, Team USA definitely dialed it back. One exception was Ned Crotty, who showed great speed and vision playing most of the game at midfield as he tried to make his case for the final roster headed into the world championship.

"I just wanted to play my game," Crotty said. "It's all you can really do. Obviously, there are 31 of the best players in the country, and we're all here for a reason. Yesterday, they told me I would be playing middie, so I was happy to have that versatility. I used my speed trying to beat my guy and get the slide and get the ball moving. We were really trying to stress all week to move the ball."

Earning a spot in the fastest shot competition from the pre-game Fan Fest, Zak Dorn won the fastest shot competition with a record 116-mph crank at halftime. (Bill Danielewski)

As the third quarter ticked away, Team USA began moving the ball better, but the MLL All-Stars still found a few more opportunities. Drew Westervelt gave the MLL All-Stars their first lead of the game, scoring on a low shot with 2:56 left. Baum tried to make it a two-goal advantage, but his shot dropped after the buzzer.

Logan Schuss had a great opportunity as the final frame opened, shooting from about 20 feet out on Team USA goalie John Galloway, who split time with Schwartzman and Drew Adams. Galloway got his stick on the ball and juggled it to make a save that seemed to surprise even him.

Crotty moved to attack early in the fourth quarter and scored a wrap-around goal immediately following the change, tying the game for Team USA. Walters would answer, nestling in his favorite spot on the left side and shooting to give the MLL All-Stars a 7-6 lead.

Brendan Mundorf tied the game at 7 for Team USA with a wrap-around goal of his own, getting the ball off of a pocket flip and shooting at a narrow angle.

Off the resulting faceoff, Pannell tossed the ball to Marcus Holman, who ran upfield, shot and scored on MLL All-Star goalie Brett Queener, giving Team USA another lead with 8:16 remaining..

First-time MLL All-Star and rookie Tom Schreiber tied the game at 8 with a low shot that rolled into the net. Schreiber had another chance soon after, but Galloway made a save. Team USA kicked up the intensity as time slipped away, and it resulted in Mundorf connecting with Drew Snider for a goal with less than three minutes left in the game.

With just 1:15 left, Walters settled into left side of the net again and ripped another hard shot for his third goal of the game, tying the game at 9.

Team USA controlled possession after Walters' goal, but a less-than-quality Mundorf pass seemed to signal the end of regulation. That was, until Pannell carried the ball up toward the left side of the goal, shooting past Queener to win the game with 6.9 left.

As he prepares to make final cuts for Team USA, Meade learned a lot from Thursday night's win.

"We wanted to see them play really hard, and we wanted to see them do what we asked them to do, which they did," he said. "We wanted to see different combinations of guys playing with each other. We got a lot accomplished."

In the always popular halftime skills competition, Schuss won the newly retooled accuracy competition, hitting three targets. In the long-standing fastest shot competition, Zak Dorn, a lacrosse enthusiast from Cary, Ill., who plays for the semi-pro indoor team the Chicago Outlaws, was selected out of the pre-game Fan Fest to participate, and won the competition with shots of 114 and 116 mph, a new record.

In-Game Blog Replay

Live Blog MLL All-Star Game - Team USA vs. MLL Stars

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