After the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships were dominated by the United States for decades, the recent resurgence of field lacrosse in Canada has led to a gold medal and a heartbreaking silver medal finish in the past two tournaments. This coming weekend, Team Canada head coach Randy Mearns will get his first glimpse of the talent available to compete at the international level.
A roster of 51 players was selected for the camp, which will take place this weekend at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. The players will be split into two squads, Team Canada Red and Team Canada White, who will take part in exhibition games against the University of Denver Pioneers, Robert Morris Colonials and Mearns’ own Canisius College Griffins.
The talent pool for Team Canada 2014 includes a strong youthful core. This includes current college stars Mark Cockerton (Virginia), Chad Tutton (North Carolina), Jesse King (Ohio State), Jeremy Noble and Wes Berg (Denver). The youngest invitee is goaltender Brennan Donville, a sophomore at Cornell. If any of the undergrads crack Canada’s roster, Cockerton stands out as a possible selection. The Oshawa native was a starting attackman as 16 year old on a Canada u-19 team that boasted the likes of Mark Matthews and Jay Card. Cockerton’s versatility also helps his case, having division one experience at both the midfield and attack position.
Three of five attackers from the 2010 silver medalist team return for a chance to represent their country again. Garrett Billings, John Grant Jr. and Zack Greer will look to rekindle their previous attack connection, while Kevin Huntley and Merrick Thomson were not selected to tryout. Mark Matthews and Jordan Mcbride could both make a push to crack this year’s roster. Matthews had an impressive showing during an exhibition game versus Team USA while at Denver and has translated his dominance from college into the professional game. Mcbride, who played alongside Matthews two summers ago with the Denver Outlaws, was a final cut in 2010 and has also succeeded at the professional level. Former Delaware Blue Hen Curtis Dickson may seem like a lock at the attack spot, however Dickson’s athleticism and Canada’s scoring strengths may see the Port Coquitlam native run as a midfielder.
Leading the available midfielders are Kevin Crowley, Rhys Duch and Jordan Hall. Crowley, the reigning MLL MVP, has emerged as one of the games’ most dominant midfielders since being selected for the 2010 team as a junior in college. Canadian midfielders are often criticized for simply applying box skills on a larger scale, however, this latest crop of talent features middies who have adjusted to the nuances of the outdoor game. This includes younger players such as Jordan Macintosh and Cam Flint.
The Canadian defensive unit, while always hardnosed, is often comprised of players with little field experience. Just three out of seven defenders in 2010 had NCAA experience, making a case for some of this year’s attendees such as the Edmonton Rush’s Brett Mysdke and Steve Priolo of the Buffalo Bandits. Kyle Rubisch, who polished his game at Dowling College before moving on to win consecutive NLL Defender of the Year awards, is a huge boost to the d-core and will be assisted by athletic up and comers such as Detroit Mercy graduate Jordan Houtby.
Canada’s biggest loss from national teams’ of the past is in the goaltending position. The late Chris Sanderson was an inspiration to all, especially in 2010 as he put on an incredible performance while in the midst of his battle with cancer. While Sanderson is irreplaceable, the next Canadian goaltending star now must step forward. Evan Kirk and Angus Dinely, who supported Sanderson in the cage during his final heroic run, both return to vie for their spot as Canada’s starting tender. Dillon Ward, who spent his rookie season with the Hamilton Nationals this summer, is an outstanding talent that has a strong chance to establish him as the future goalie of Canadian field lacrosse.
The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships are set for July 10-19, 2014, in Denver, Colorado.