July 17, 2013

Carey's Transition From Precocious Talent to Polished Vet

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Midfielder Ally Carey, a member of the 2007 FIL U-19 World Cup gold medalist U.S. team, is settling into a key role with the senior team at this tournament.
© JC Pinhiero 

OSHAWA, Ontario - The site of the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women's World Cup is just about 50 miles from Peterborough, Ontario, roughly an hour's drive. Peterborough was the host of the 2007 FIL U19 Women's World Championship, where midfielder Ally Carey made her FIL debut for the U.S. team.

That 50-mile journey from Peterborough to Oshawa has been a long one for Carey. It took her six years to get from being a talented prep star to a polished, versatile player at the heart of the best midfield unit in the world, helping Team USA to a 4-0 mark in pool play and the top seed for the elimination round.

"I say now I'm with the big girls," she said. "These girls are amazing. I have a great time with them."

Carey settled into the senior team quickly. She was the player of the match in the U.S. team's tournament opener, a 17-7 victory over England in which she had two goals and a team-high six draw controls.

"Ally's awesome. She's amazing. She can win the draw, and she can score," Team USA midfielder Kristin Igoe said.

Carey shares draw control duty with attacker and veteran Sarah Albrecht and currently leads the team with 14 draw controls. On the ball or on the circle, she's an asset to the U.S. midfield.

"Ally Carey does a lot of things really well, starting with the draw. And if she doesn't get it, she makes it a 50-50 ball for us, and does not have other people win it clean," U.S. coach Ricky Fried said.

Carey, a 2012 graduate of Vanderbilt, was a three-time first-team All-American and is the Commodores' career leader in ground balls (166) and draw controls (263). She's also in the top 10 in four other major statistical categories (goals, assists, points and caused turnovers). While she was one of the best in the country at the NCAA level, her FIL experience has lifted her game above and beyond even her own expectations.

"I've learned so much -- just the spacing and why I'm moving where I'm moving. Before it was just an innate ability, and Vanderbilt taught me so much, and I grew so much as a player. And to take that extra step with U.S. is huge. Because now I know why I'm going to where I'm going," Carey said. "Smart lacrosse was that next step, where you don't just run like a chicken with your head cut off. It's a chess game, instead of random running for the ball."

In Team USA's final round robin game, the coaching staff threw in a new look on the draw, using midfielder Kelly Berger. Berger is the team's iron woman, and had the strength to square off with Canada's Dana Dobbie, a 5-foot-10 draw specialist with power and finesse to spare. Berger's role was to put the ball on the ground, where Carey and the rest of the midfield could pick it up or pressure the Canadian ball handlers into turnovers. Carey had two ground balls in the 13-2 win over Canada, and used her defensive skills to contribute to the ride.

"While she was a fabulous collegiate player, she's worked on certain skills, like shooting and 1-v-1 defense, to become an even better player now. And all that credit goes to her for putting in the work and improve when she's playing at a higher level already," Fried said. "It's nice to see her believe in herself."

Carey is a customer service representative with Under Armour at the company's Baltimore headquarters. She has spent the past year juggling her career and her national team commitments with positive results. Still, even as her confidence in her senior-level play soars, Carey still gets a thrill from playing with veterans.

"Getting a pat on the back from Devon [Wills] or Sarah, or anybody who's been here for years, it's like, 'Oh my gosh! Thank you so much! You like me!' You see all the hard work," she said.

News and Notes

Team USA's top seed granted them a rest day as the elimination round of the tournament began Wednesday. The U.S. will play Haudenosaunee, a 19-3 winner over Ireland in Wednesday's first day of eliminations, in the quarterfinals Thursday...

Japan survived an overtime win against Israel on Tuesday, prevailing 12-11. The Japanese rallied from an 8-3 halftime deficit to claim the win. The game-winner was scored by attacker Rie Mito. Japan (5-0) was the only undefeated team in the championship bracket besides the U.S. The Japanese played Scotland in the elimination round, however, and suffered their first defeat of the tournament on Wednesday...

Team Israel issued a statement last week declaring the squad's intention to forfeit any games played on Shabbos, the Jewish holy day lasting from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. The FIL accommodated the Israeli team during the round robin, but has said that the organization will not alter the championship bracket schedule. If Israel advances to the semifinal game, the team would be schedule to play at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, well in advance of sundown. The championship game, however, is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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