July 27, 2011

Team USA Makes Final Preparations for Germany

by Brian Logue | LaxMagazine.com

Tatum Coffey had three goals as the U.S. U19 team defeated NEMS 19-8 in an exhibition on Wednesday night.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

BEL AIR, Md. – In less than four days, the U.S. U19 team will board a plane bound for Hannover, Germany and the Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s U19 World Championship, but it still doesn’t seem quite real.

“We say, oh my goodness we’re going to Germany,” said midfielder Tatum Coffey. “It’s insane. Once we’re on the plane it will hit us.”

It definitely hasn’t hit defender Alyssa Blevins. The U.S. team is currently training near her home in Harford County (Md.) at Cedar Lane Regional Park as they get ready to try and win their fourth straight world championship (1999, 2003 and 2007).

“My house is like two minutes away,” said Blevins. “Once I get on a plane and I’m sitting there for more than two hours, then I’ll think, wow I’m really flying to Germany.”

In the meantime, there’s still work to do. The U.S. team beat a collection of players from the NEMS (Northeast Maryland Select) program, 19-8, in an exhibition game on Wednesday night. They continue training camp on Thursday along with a clinic for local players that night. On Friday they play another exhibition at Cedar Lane, this time against Maryland United at 7:30 p.m., in their final competition before leaving for Germany on Sunday.

NEMS battled the U.S. tough in the early going, pulling to within 5-3 midway through the first half before the U.S. scored the final four goals of the half to take control of the game. Katie Gallagher, a rising senior and former high school teammate of Blevins at C. Milton Wright (Md.) High School and Navy commitment, led NEMS with four goals.

Kayla Treanor and Cortney Fortunato led the U.S. offense with four goals and two assists, including one beautiful connection when Treanor fed Fortunato for a goal late in the second half. Coffey and Covie Stanwick each added three goals for the U.S.

“We came together more as a team and plays are clicking,” said Coffey. “It’s a good feeling. Every game is getting better and better. Coming from different high school teams we’re all the main players basically. Here, you figure out your role and it gets easier as we play more games.”

This team has played together more than any previous U.S. U19 team. Since last summer’s tryouts, they played in the Stars & Stripes Weekend in Massachusetts in October, at the Champion Challenge in Florida in January, against Canada at the US Lacrosse Women’s Division National Tournament in New York in May, and against local teams in Pennsylvania in late June.

“Over the last few months, we’ve definitely become more of a unit,” said Blevins. “As a team you know where they are on the field instead of looking around for them.”

The team has been so focused on the trip to Germany, that they’re not really paying attention to what most of their friends are thinking about – college.

“Once we come back from Germany, some of us have five days and then we’re off to college,” said Coffey, who will head to Penn State. “It’s great because we have Germany to get us ready for college. It’s not just high school and then college.”

Blevins will head to UMBC when the U.S. comes back, but it’s hard to look past the opportunity in front of her.

“I took German for four years in school, so just being in that country is going to be so neat,” said Blevins. “On top of that, playing lacrosse in that country - just the experience is going to be incredible.”

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