January 22, 2014

Gurenlian Out; Mundorf, Bernhardt Recovering for U.S. Men

by Sean Burns | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Greg Gurenlian has decided to remove himself from the Team USA pool for the upcoming FIL World Championships due to lingering issues from a labrum (shoulder) injury. (John Strohsacker)

As the U.S. men's national training team prepares for this weekend's Champion Challenge and Sunday's Blue-White scrimmage — the final evaluation event before the Feb. 5 announcement of cutdowns to a 30-man pool for the 2014 FIL World Championships in Denver — a trio of players will be sitting out due to injury, with one withdrawing from the team pool entirely.

Attackman Brendan Mundorf, faceoff specialist Greg Gurenlian and defender Jesse Bernhardt are all listed as injured and unable to participate. Mundorf, who had surgery in the off-season, needs more time to recover before going full speed and may participate in drills. Bernhardt is in recovery from some back issues, but hopes to be at 100% if he is put through to the 30-man cut.

Gurenlian, however, indicated that he will be attending the weekend but not participating, and that he is removing himself from Team USA consideration due to lingering issues with a labrum (shoulder) tear.

"Last summer I played with a torn labrum and a floating piece of bone in my right shoulder," Gurenlian wrote in an email. "After working with my college and high school Face-Off Academy guys, it has gotten worse. I've decided that I'm too close to the MLL season for surgery and it's best for everyone if I swallow my pride and pull out.

"Playing one game per week with a pain shot is something I can probably fight through for [the MLL season], but playing six games in ten days is literally inconceivable. I refuse to be remembered as the guy who broke down at the worst time and cost us a gold medal. I'd never be able to live with myself."

Gurenlian's withdrawal leads Team USA with just three faceoff specialists remaining from the four that originally made the 52-man training roster after tryouts this summer: Anthony Kelly and Chris Eck and Mike Poppleton. Whoever is selected will be tasked with battling Canada's specialist Geoff Snider, who was a dominant force in its 2006 FIL World Championships gold medal win and battled Alex Smith in 2010.

For Mundorf, an All-World selection in 2010, the road back from surgery on his abdominals and a knee scope that closely followed the finish of the MLL season has taken longer than expected.

"We were pushing to be in playing form by this weekend, but when I got into some running and leg exercises, the knee wasn't responding well," Mundorf said. " [The trainers and I] came to the conclusion that if we continued to push to play this weekend, it wouldn't be full strength, and there would be the possibility to do something that would hurt the healing process for down the road."

The goal now for Mundorf is to focus on being prepared to hit the field for the start of the Chesapeake Bayhawks season in April, and if he is carried through to the 30-man U.S. men's roster in the meantime, use that as his final preparation for Denver.

On the bright side for U.S. injury news, reigning Best and Fairest Player (MVP) Paul Rabil is back to health and expected to participate fully in the weekend after his off-season surgery.

Lacrosse Magazine will be on hand all weekend for the Champion Challenge, from Friday night's Syracuse-Stetson women's game through Sunday afternoon's Blue-White scrimmage from Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.

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