July 11, 2012

5 Things to Watch at North American Challenge Cup

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

The North American Challenge Cup this weekend will mark the international coaching debut of Ohio State's Alexis Venechanos, tabbed in December 2011 to lead the host Canadian women's national team through the 2013 FIL World Cup.

 © Ohio State Athletics

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- While its brave U.S. under-19 men's counterpart travel across the Atlantic to Turku, Finland for the 2012 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) U19 World Championship, a 24-player U.S. women's national touring team is taking a much shorter international trip to Oshawa, Ontario, for the North American Challenge Cup. Team USA will play Canada and the Haudenosaunee this weekend at the Civic Recreation Complex.

Here are five things to know about Team USA's run for the border.

1. They'll play three games -- one versus Haudenosaunee and two versus Canada.

Here's Team USA's schedule (all times Eastern). Team Canada is divided into two squads -- Red and White -- for this event. Follow LaxMagazine.com for updates.

Friday, July 13 - Team USA vs. Haudenosaunee - 4 p.m.
Saturday, July 14 - Team USA vs. Canada Red - 12 p.m.
Sunday, July 15 - Team USA vs. Canada White - 10 a.m.

2. The international matches are all friendlies.

No one will raise a trophy at the end of the weekend. The primary purpose of the event is to do a dry run (for both hosts and visitors) in preparation for the 2013 FIL Women's World Cup, which will be held at the same venue next summer. The Canadians are incredibly excited about hosting their first senior international women's lacrosse event. They most recently hosted the U19 women's world championship in 2007. Ontario is one of Canada's lacrosse hotbeds, too, as you can tell from the roster. You may have heard of Ontario-born women's laxers such as Kylee White (San Diego State coach), Dana Dobbie (Loyola assistant coach, former Tewaaraton finalist), Brooke McKenzie (Stanford assistant coach) and Katie Guy (Penn State senior midfielder).

3. Team USA has no secrets.

The trip to Canada will be preceded by a stop in Buffalo, N.Y., where the national team scrimmaged local college players Tuesday at Hamburg High School. There also were coaching and player clinics. U.S. coach Ricky Fried is an "open source" kind of coach who's willing to share everything he knows, and the Team USA players and coaching staff let clinic participants in on the best ways to play the game. Check out the link below for registration info:

4. Team Canada debuts a new coach, Alexis Venechanos.

Venechanos was named coach of the Canadian women's national team in December 2011. The North American Challenge will be her first time leading the team in international competition. Venechanos is currently the coach at Ohio State. She won two NCAA championships as a goalie for Maryland and two more as an assistant coach at Northwestern. Venechanos has gone 21-13 in two seasons in Columbus. Assistant coaches are Susan Stuart (Colorado College), Alex Kahoe (Vermont) and Michele Uhlfelder (Occidental).

5. Watch out for the young guns.

Team USA currently carries 36 players, but only 24 will travel to Canada. Six players on the 24-player touring team either just graduated from college or currently compete for NCAA Division I teams: Ally Carey (Vanderbilt '12), Danielle Etrasco (Boston University '13), Kristen Igoe (Boston College '12), Katie Schwarzmann (Maryland '13), Michelle Tumolo (Syracuse '13) and Laura Zimmerman (North Carolina '12). They all will look to make an impression on the coaching staff, perhaps especially the attackers (Etrasco and Tumolo) with Team USA veteran Lindsey Munday on the bench with a broken wrist. The final round of tryouts for the 2012-2014 team will be held at UMBC on July 27-29.

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