USA Profile: Joe Fletcher
Professional Team: New York Lizards
College: Loyola 2014
There’s many things every coach looks for in a player. Physicality, I.Q., vision, foot work, stick skills are just a few. When you hear the names Lee Zink, Tucker Durkin, Michael Evans, Brian Spallina and Nicky Polanco, you think heavy hitters, physical, beasts, animals and more. Names like Kyle Sweeney, Kyle Hartzell, Ryan Flanagan, Brodie Merrill kind of represent the positioning, angles, and physics of the game. All of these guys named are great at what they do. There’s something special about every single one of them, those are just some of the things they have in common with one another.
Team USA announced their 30 man roster on February 5. Waiting to see if his name was called is the only collegiate player left on the roster, Joe Fletcher. He is Loyola’s number one defender heading into the 2014 NCAA season and was drafted by the New York Lizards in the first round, third overall. As I sat there watching the announcement video, I cocked back my arm and made a huge fist bump when I heard Joe’s name called.
Denver Outlaws and Johns Hopkins alumnus goaltender, Jesse Schwartzman, made a statement saying something along the lines of Fletcher was not a flashy player and does all the small things right. I couldn’t agree more. Joe has this ability to recover well, always has his stick in the air, plays incredible angle & positioning defense, stick is always in the middle, always has his hips open to his man and the ball and does many many more little things right. It’s a skill that a lot of other defenders try to master but target training in one specific area. Fletcher has focused on the little things that coaches try to drill into every defender’s head and has become an offensive player’s worst nightmare with them.
Loyola has only two games under their belt with an overtime loss to Virginia and a one goal win over Penn State. Fletcher is the go-to guy down low and he’s going up against some of the best talent in NCAA men’s lacrosse. He performed very well in the Blue and White scrimmage down in Florida, taking on some of the best talent in the world. In on man down, going one on one, off-ball, he did it all.
He has to try to beat out great defenders if he wants to make the final 23-man roster for Team USA. Mitch Belisle, Tucker Durkin, Michael Evans and Lee Zink are the other close defenders gunning for a final roster spot at close defense.
It’s an incredible experience going through the recruiting process through high school and going to a top tier school such as Loyola and then to be drafted into the MLL. Also, it is an honor to don the red, white and blue, something Fletcher and the other 30 gentlemen on the roster have worked their entire careers to get too. For Joe to do it still as a college student and as the youngest player on the field in the shadows of Lee Zink and Kyle Sweeney, is ecstatic and says something about this young man.