July 8, 2010

Team USA Prevails in Heated MLL All-Star Game

by Dan Hickling | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | Game Blog

Held scoreless in Team USA's 13-12 comeback win over the MLL All-Stars, midfielder Paul Rabil did notch another fastest shot title in the skills competition, twice registering 111-mph on the radar.

© Bryce Vickmark

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Who says laxers lack feelings?

Or that professional all-star games are merely yuk-fests, with no real anger, passion or drama?

Those notions were blown to smithereens during the 2010 MLL All-Star Game, which saw the U.S. national team edge the MLL's elite, 13-12, before 11,771 at Harvard Stadium.

Ryan Powell – who else – delivered the decisive goal for Team USA in its final and most important tuneup before heading next week to Manchester, England and the FIL World Championships.

“It's certainly nice to get a win,” said Powell, who scored the game-winner with a minute even left in the game. “We'll feel very positive going overseas. You know, if it was the other way around, who can tell? But we would have found a way to regroup.”

They nearly had to.

The U.S. trailed by three points twice -- the last time with 8:39 to play -- to an MLL squad comprised largely of players spurned by US Lacrosse when the national team was chosen.

“You don't need to talk about it,” said middie Chris Rotelli (Machine). “The guys who tried out for Team USA who didn't make it and played tonight showed that they could have been on that team. Everybody wants to prove themselves and play with a chip on your shoulder. We did that  tonight, a little bit.”

The give-no quarter tone was set from the outset.

It took Team USA some time to get the offense in gear, but after spotting the MLL the first two goals, the Americans stormed back to take a 5-3 halftime lead.

Brendan Mundorf scored twice for the USA in the last 39 seconds of the half on carbon copy lasers from just off the right post.

The MLL owned a 2-0 lead late in the opening quarter thanks to goals by Kevin Leveille (Chicago), a U.S. team alternate, and Dan Hardy (Denver).

Ryan Boyle (whose MLL home is Boston), scored twice for Team USA to knot the score, 2-2.

The teams seemed destined for a halftime stalemate, but, with the Americans playing a man up in the last minute, Mundorf cut to the right post, took a cross-crease feed from Powell and slammed the shot past starting MLL goalie Chris Garrity (Chesapeake), a former U.S. teamer.

Then, with just three seconds showing on the clock, Mundorf repeated the act, this time with his Denver Outlaws teammate Drew Westervelt serving as set-up man.

“I really like shooting from the wing,” said Mundorf, who topped all scorers with six goals to earn All-Star Game MVP honors. “We did a great job of getting the defense to rotate. Everybody made great plays, and I ended up on the finishing end of them.”

The MLL hauled itself back into the game, and sent a message to Team USA with a run of six points in the third quarter, whicih gave it a 9-6 lead.

When Matt Poskay (Boston), the league's goals leader, scored midway through the fourth to make it 12-9, an upset appeared to be in the making.

However, the U.S. made up the deficit, with Mundorf scoring the tying goal against Jesse Schwartzman with just 1:55 left to play.

That set the stage for Powell, who is no stranger to pressure.

“I always feel comfortable,” said Powell, “late in the game with the ball on my stick. I've been doing it for a long time.”

Powell took a feed from Ryan Boyle, and with a lunge from the left wing, put Team USA ahead for good.

“He's money,” said Mundorf.

News & Notes

Powell's feelings roiled to the surface when talking about being named a co-captain of the U.S. squad, a decision announced earlier Thursday. “I didn't think there could be any greater honor than making the U.S. team,” said Powell, the words catching in his throat. “It's emotional, to be chosen as captain of this team. It really is. It means a lot." Powell will share the duties with middie Kevin Cassese, who was similarly touched. “It means everything,” said Cassese, who carried a large American flag around the field after the game, “to be elected by your peers. I'm  absolutely humbled by the selection. Every one of these guys has been a captain at some point. And we've got a lot of great leadership on this team. I'm just happy to be a part of it..." The prolonged halftime break featured the Bud Light Skills Competition. Ned Crotty of Team USA won the two-point accuracy event, while his U.S. teammate Paul Rabil won the hardest shot, clocking in at 111 mph twice to tie his own MLL record. He beat U.S. midfield line mate Max Seibald, who hit 111 in the preliminary round, in a shootout. The freestyle (think slam dunk with a lacrosse stick) event was taken by the MLL's Kevin Buchanan (Boston), who launched from behind the goal off the backs of coach John Tucker, Anthony Kelly and Greg Bice, tiptoed the top of the crossbar and stuffed a shot beneath him.

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