January 26, 2013

Team USA Uses Balanced Attack as Final Cuts Near

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Live Blog Replay

Katie Rowan led all U.S. scorers with five points in Team USA's 19-11 in over Syracuse on Saturday night at Champion Challenge in Florida.
© Scott McCall

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Tryouts are a balance between standing out from the crowd and fitting in to the larger team. That's especially true for Team USA, a fast-paced squad that prides itself on systemic offense and smart defense. During the last training weekend before the final selection for the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women's World Cup, the U.S. coaching staff is looking for players who combine power with self-control.

"That's what our theme is for the weekend is — we don't want to lose our athleticism, but we want to stay composed while we're doing that," Team USA coach Ricky Fried said.

To that end, Team USA defeated Syracuse, 19-11, at the Champion Challenge with a balanced attack. Ten different players scored, and three — Katrina Dowd, Lindsey Munday and Laura Zimmerman — had hat tricks. Attacker Katie Rowan was the points leader for the U.S. with two goals and three assists.

"The coaching staff is trying a lot of different combinations, but we're all familiar with playing with each other throughout the year," Rowan said. "Everyone brings something a little different, but being able to react to that, and know each other and build that chemistry was important for this weekend."

The Orange scored first, on an unassisted goal from junior attacker Alyssa Murray, who finished with five. But the U.S. answered with three goals to take the lead for good. Team USA led 10-3 at the half, and used its signature ride to force 22 Syracuse turnovers and allow the Orange to convert on only five of 15 clears.

"It's one of the things we're known for as the U.S. team, our ride," Fried said. "Our players get very excited about it, and I think people prepare for it because they know it will happen. I honestly think there's a lot of pride that goes into how our players execute it. We'll give up some easy goals out of it, but the cost-benefit analysis usually falls in our favor."

Syracuse won the draw battle thanks to Kirkland Locey and Kailah Kempney, who combined to win 18 of 32 attempts. Draws have been a focus for Team USA, since there are no returning specialists from the 2009 gold medal team. Midfielders Brittany Dashiell, Sarah Albrecht, Kristen Carr and Allyson Carey all took the draw for the U.S. versus the Orange.

Rowan, an assistant coach at Syracuse, went up against her own players and alongside another one, attacker Michelle Tumolo. Tumolo (two goals) was the No. 2 scorer for the Orange last season. Without her, Syracuse struggled in face of a stiff U.S. defense, especially in first half. Freshman midfielder Kayla Treanor scored five goals. Defender Linley Block added a single goal on a fast break in the second half. Syracuse was particularly stymied by starting U.S. goalie Megan Huether, who had seven saves in the first half.

"They're they best team in the world right now, and it's the biggest challenge we're going to face," Murray said. "Our offense played really well at times, but I think at times we got flustered under pressure which is something that we'll work on for the future."

Following the win over Syracuse, the U.S. heads into a game against defending NCAA champion Northwestern at 11 a.m. ET Sunday (ESPN3.com/LaxMagazine.com live blog). The matchup with the Wildcats will be the last team event before the current 25-player roster is pared down to 18.

Northwestern beats England in OT

Northwestern senior attacker Erin Fitzgerald scored the game-winner on a low shot with 20.5 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Wildcats an 11-10 win, capping a back-and-forth contest between with Team England that featured five ties and three lead changes. Junior attacker Kara Mupo assisted Fitzgerald's goal.

"We told each other, 'Let's just get a lot of movement out there.' We were kindif standing and watching each other, so we started moving a lot. The cut throughs by my teammates were there, and I just happened to be open," Fitzgerald said.

England led 10-9 late in the second half, but Northwestern senior midfielder Taylor Thornton scored an equalizer at 1:16. Northwestern almost avoided overtime when Amanda Macaluso scored with 44.7 seconds remaining in regulation, but the point was waived off due to an illegal stick.

"We enjoyed being able to play the extra time. It's more testing the waters at this point, getting their confidence in playing together," Wildcats coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. "It's our first time out. We obviously have a long way to go."

England nearly sent the game to double overtime when attacker Charlie Finnigan got a fast break in the final minute, but she collided with Thornton and Fitzgerald and drew an offensive charge call with just 5.7 seconds remaining.

Sophie Brett led England with five goals; Thornton and Alyssa Leonard each scored two for Northwestern.

2013 Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event

Team USA 10 9 - 19
Syracuse 3 8 - 11

USA — Albrecht 3, Dowd 3, Zimmerman 3, Igoe 2, Rowan 2, Tumolo 2, Etrasco 1, Munday 1, Schwarzmann 1, Berger 1; SYR — Murray 5, Treanor 5, L. Block 1.
Assists: USA — Rowan 3, Etrasco 1, Munday 1, Smith 1; SYR — Bodt 1, Treanor 1.
Saves: USA — Huether 7, Hogan 3, Wills 0; SYR — Richardson 9, Costantino 7Draws: USA 14, SYR 18
Ground Balls: USA 16, SYR 11
Clears: USA 13-17, SYR 5-15
Turnovers: USA 12, SYR 22

Northwestern 9 11 1 - 11
Team England 5 5 0 - 10

Goals: NU — Fitzgerald 2, Leonard 2, Macaluso 2, Thornton 2, Cassera 1, Turner 1; ENG — Brett 5, Bruce 1, Lynch 1, Taylor 1, Templeman 1, Wimpenny 1.
Assists: NU — DeRonda 1, Mupo 1; ENG — Smith 1, Templeman 1, Watt 1, Finnigan 1, Kircheimer 1, Lafferty 1.
Saves: NU — Bianco 3, Jones 1.
Draws: NU 19, ENG 6
Ground balls: NU 17, ENG 15
Clears: NU 8-8, ENG 14-20
Turnovers: NU 17, ENG 17

Team USA 9 11 – 20
Team England 2 7 – 9

Goals: USA — Dowd 6, Smith 5, Dashiell 2, McPartland 2, Tumolo 2, Carey 1, Etrasco 1, Rowan 1; ENG — Merrifield 6, Brett 1, Finnigan 1, Lafferty 1.
Assists: USA — Munday 2, Schwarzmann 2, Rowan 1, Zimmerman 1; ENG — Finnigan 2, Brett 1, Templeman 1.
Saves: USA — Wills 4, Huether 0, Hogan 0; ENG — Gaunt 4, Keogh 2.
Shots: USA — 20 of 48; ENG — 9 of 18
Draws: USA 17, ENG 14
Ground balls: USA 21, ENG 15
Clears: USA 9-13, ENG 10-19
Turnovers: USA 16, ENG 20

Check back to LaxMagazine.com on Sunday for live coverage as the U.S. women's national team plays Northwestern at 11:00 a.m. ET and the U.S. men's national team takes on Loyola at 1:30 p.m. ET.

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