September 3, 2013

Rapid Reaction: Team USA Tryout Survivors

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

Steele Stanwick is among 10 attackman to make it through cuts after three days worth of tryouts over the weekend for the 2014 U.S. men's national team.
© John Strohsacker/

Link: Team USA Roster Released

The number of players still in the running to make the 2014 U.S. men's national team was cut from 96 to 52 on Tuesday morning after three days worth of tryouts over the weekend at Goucher College in Baltimore.

The additional members of the training team — six more than the previously announced cut-down number of 46 — account for potential injuries, according to the coaching staff. This group will train through the fall before the Champion Challenge, an annual US Lacrosse event in January. After that, the final 23-man roster for next summer's Federation of International (FIL) Lacrosse Championships will be named.

Here's are a few first impressions on who made it through cuts and who didn't. All names are listed in alphabetical order, and not ranked in any other way. The Team USA coaching staff of head coach Richie Meade, assistants Kevin Cassese, Dave Pietramala and Jeff Tambroni, and other evaluators, certainly ranked the players, though. As Meade said on Saturday, "Our job isn't to be fair. Our job is put together the best team the United States can put on the field."

Attack (10)

Made It: Matt Danowski, Marcus Holman, Eric Law, Kevin Leveille, Brendan Mundorf, Rob Pannell, Garrett Thul, Steele Stanwick, Drew Westervelt, Ryan Young

Left Off: Billy Bitter, Chris Bocklet, Jeremy Boltus, Kevin Cunningham, Jack Rice, Ben Rubeor, Chazz Woodson

This is an exciting group to parse. Danowski, Mundorf, Pannell and Stanwick aren't surprises, and Danowski and Pannell had exceptional tryouts as the only two players to register double-digit points. Pannell had 15 and Danowski notched 12. Holman, Law, Leveille, Thul, Westervelt and Young weren't sure things, but Holman (eight points), Thul (nine goals) and Young (two points) really impressed throughout the weekend. The race to be the next Team USA quarterback, including Pannell and Stanwick, has another candidate in Young. The former Maryland attackman seems to make every team he is on better, from the Terps (reaching the NCAA title game as a senior), to limited action with MLL's Lizards his first two seasons to this year's Charlotte Hounds, the MLL finalist... The coaching staff decided to take Law and Leveille as finishers, over Chris Bocklet (the MLL's leading scorer this year, and on the same Denver Outlaws team as Law), Jack Rice and Ben Rubeor. Leveille's international experience cannot be understated and his inside presence was missed in last fall's "Duel in Denver" against Canada... Westervelt can provide a left-wing shot that could fit in amid the rest... Mundorf didn't participate in tryouts because of injury, but got through on his body of work.

Midfield (13)

Made It: Steven Brooks, Kevin Buchanan, Ned Crotty, Kyle Harrison, Ben Hunt, David Lawson, JoJo Marasco, Matt Mackrides, Paul Rabil, Max Seibald, Drew Snider, Jeremy Sieverts, Matt Striebel

Left Off: Peter Baum, Stephen Berger, Sam Bradman, Graham Gill, Pat Heim, Terry Kimener, Michael Kimmel, Cameron Lao-Gosney, Roman Lao-Gosney, Mike Sawyer, Tom Schreiber, Mike Stone

Rabil didn't participate in tryouts past Friday night, resting a pair of torn muscles on which he will get surgery this week, but he was never out of consideration... The Chesapeake Bayhawks have three in this group: Steven Brooks, Ben Hunt and Matt Mackrides. Hunt had a productive tryout and Mackrides is a versatile middie on the rise in the MLL... Buchanan can fit in a variety of roles, and has traditionally been an underrated player, but it's hard to say that anymore... Harrison is the lone LXM Pro Tour player to survive... Lawson and Marasco are two exciting young players to watch. Both were MLL rookies this year; Lawson from Duke and Marasco, the Tewaaraton Award finalist, from Syracuse. Marasco, a late addition to the tryout pool last week, played exceptionally over the weekend on a line with Matt Striebel, with five goals and three assists. Lawson is a physical specimen at 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds who pumped in 18 goals as rookie with the Rochester Rattlers. He scored four in Team USA tryouts... Seibald is still battling injuries and that was apparent over the weekend... Snider, at times, was the most impressive midfielder on the field. He's joined on this list by Outlaws teammate Jeremy Sieverts, who together with Snider created constant matchup problems for MLL opponents this year. Who do you pole?... The possibility remains for Striebel to make this fourth U.S. men's national team, even as he said he was prepared to be cut. "You don't get many chances to do this," Striebel said Saturday. "I can be retired my entire life from here on out. It's so awesome. There are so many great young players. I've been able to bridge a lot of lacrosse generations, and it's cool to be able to see another one."... Crotty didn't participate in tryouts (pneumonia) but made it through... A few notable omissions: 2012 Tewaaraton Award winner Peter Baum, who had a solid tryout, and Sam Bradman, the 2012 Champion Challenge MVP. Each had six points this weekend. Princeton's Tewaaraton Award finalist Tom Schreiber got off to a poor start, shooting 1 of 17 through Saturday, but had a better Sunday (1-for-3).

Defense (10)

Mike Simon is among the long-stick midfielders still in the pool to represent the U.S. at next summer's Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships in Denver.

Made It: Mitch Belisle, Jesse Bernhardt, Brendan Buckley, Tucker Durkin, Michael Evans, Joe Fletcher, Brian Karalunas, Dillon Roy, Brett Schmidt, Lee Zink

Left Off: Barney Ehrmann, Ryan Flanagan, John Lade, Matt Lovejoy, Mike Manley, Nicky Polanco, Chad Wiedmaier

This group includes the lone collegian to make it through. It's Loyola's Joe Fletcher, so congratulations to him. Let's see how the Greyhound stud balances his collegiate responsibilities with Team USA, the latter of which will include the Oct. 4-6 Play for Parkinson's event in Virginia and two other training weekends before Champion Challenge in January... A couple veterans lead the pack: Mitch Belisle, Michael Evans and Lee Zink. That's a rock-solid group that has great potential in 2014. They are all guys who you didn't hear much of over the weekend, but that's because they weren't getting beat... Don't count out Tucker Durkin, who was in the running for MLL rookie of the year and held Steele Stanwick to just one assist at tryouts Saturday evening... Brendan Buckley may surprise some, but not those who followed Army and the Patriot League over the last few years... Jesse Bernhardt was originally listed as long-stick midfielder, but played close defense as well for the Bayhawks this year. Brian Karalunas is versatile as well at LSM and close, which helps his cause, and Dillon Roy too. Roy took a couple faceoffs with the long-stick during tryouts, a sign that the coaching staff was considering him with game-day tactics already in mind. Versatility will help bubble players make the final 23-man roster.

Long-Stick Midfield (4)

Made It: Brian Farrell, Kyle Hartzell, Kyle Sweeney, Michael Simon

Left Off: Matt Bocklet, John LoCascio, Scott Ratliff

A few of the guys from the defense group above could also make it into the long-stick midfield fold, but Farrell, Hartzell, Sweeney and Simon are an offensive-minded quartet, all capable of sparking transition... All showed their versatility throughout the weekend. Farrell had three goals and nine ground balls, Hartzell had two goals and six ground balls, Sweeney notched two goals and two assists and eight ground balls. Simon entered the weekend nursing a back injury, but still grabbed seven ground balls and has proven in short time what he's capable of at full strength.

Short-Stick Defensive Midfield (7)

Made It: Matt Abbott, Dan Burns, Kevin Drew, Stephen Peyser, Jeff Reynolds, Chris Schiller, Kevin Unterstein

Left Off: Jake Bernhardt, Steve DeNapoli, Benson Erwin, Chris LaPierre, John Ranagan, Justin Pennington

Abbott, to me, was the class of this the short-stick middies throughout the weekend, as he typically is, showing the variety of skills that have made him such a valuable part of the Chesapeake Bayhawks recent dynasty. The stock of his teammate, Burns, continues to rise and a third Bayhawks defensive-middie, Reynolds, survived cuts... Speaking of Reynolds, both he and Kevin Drew, who were late additions to the try out pool last week, made it... Schiller and Unterstein provide needed veteran presence at the position, and potential leadership... Peyser was switched to short-stick defensive midfield and made it here... On the other hand, Ranagan, who did not make the cut, played a lot of offense in tryouts and made a ton of hustle plays. The Outlaws' do-it-all man Pennington could have easily been included as well.

Goalie (4)

Made It: Drew Adams, John Galloway, Jesse Schwartzman, Kip Turner

Left Off: Jordan Burke, Adam Ghitelman, Austin Kaut, Brett Queener

This is a really solid group. Galloway, Adams and Turner had stellar tryouts, stopping 66, 60 and 56 percent of the shots they faced, respectively, and Schwartzman, although statistically behind the other three over the weekend (39 percent), is the reigning MLL goaltender of the year. I'd take any combination of two from these four and be happy with them next summer in Denver... If it were a group of six, the Burke and Ghitelman would be in... It's no fault of Kaut's, but facing MLL competition and shots, and directing pro defenders is a different animal.

Faceoff (4)

Made It: Chris Eck, Greg Gurenlian, Anthony Kelly, Mike Poppleton

Left Off: Matt Dolente, Brendan Fowler, Kevin Massa, Adam Rand

There's three veterans and a relatively young gun in Poppleton, who impressed throughout tryouts with a 56-percent win rate. Eck and Gurenlian have proven over time to be highly-successful MLL takers and the 33-year-old Kelly had a solid 2013, even while battling elbow, arm and ankle injuries. He won nearly 60 percent this weekend. It will come down to who the U.S. coaching staff thinks gives them the best chance against Canada's Geoff Snider... No real snubs here, even though the prolific collegiate headliners of Fowler and Massa are left off. "It's a big learning curve for them, compared to what they're used to," Kelly said Saturday when asked about the college guys (Fowler won 40 percent and Massa won 32). "Guys lean, there's different styles, and quick whistles. For them, they're at a severe disadvantage."

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