USA Greats: First Cars, Now Lacrosse

With about five months to go until the FIL World games in Denver, Team USA put its remaining 50 or so guys to the test in the Blue & White Champion Challenge down in Florida. They showed up with fresh hair cuts to hopefully help impress Coach Richie Meade. Fans could hear Coach Dave Pietramala all the way back at Homewood Field and the players put on a good show.

Remaining were lots of questions as to who would make the final 23-man roster, with some still unanswered and new ones popping up. In the end, White came out victorious and was in control for most of the game.   Something I did like about how they ran the scrimmage was that the coaches were going between benches to coach their respected positions with offense and defense. It’s a very tough thing to do with many different guys who all have special and certain individual talents.

One thing that bugged me was Coach Meade being interviewed while the game was in progress. This guy has to put together a team that will represent our country and you interview him DURING the scrimmage? I know the scrimmage doesn’t reveal everything, but come on.

Anyways, there were many guys who were supposed to stand out who hid and guys who were supposed to be out gunned, shined. Kevin Leveille is on the coaches’ radar even though he has never made Team USA. His finishing skills are top notch and having his veteran leadership on the field is a plus. Ned Crotty kept his name highlighted netting a few goals. Jeremy Sieverts used his specialty in shooting on the run and has a good chance to dawn the Red, White and Blue.

Matt Striebel is the oldest guy on the roster and plays like a guy in his prime. Max Seibald is a two-way gem that has speed that no one on the field can match up to. Big man, Drew Westervelt, was his threatening self, using both his outdoor and indoor skills and his size to his advantage. Matt Danowski may not have had a lot of production points-wise, but his vision and leadership make him a very smart player and I saw that during the game. Kevin Buchanan is both shifty and creative off ball, something USA will need going up against Canada and Iroquois. As for Ben Hunt, I’m leaning towards the 30-man roster for him. His size and vision help his game. Paul Rabil had a tough time finding his feet in his first real competitive action back after surgery. However, he’s not one of the most dangerous players in the game for nothing. Once MLL starts up and Paul gets his legs under him, he’ll be good to go.

Drew Adams made a strong case for a spot between the pipes, along with John Galloway. Jesse Schwartzman made some good saves but struggled, along with Kip Turner, who eventually found and collected himself and started making saves.

Chris Eck may be the favorite FOGO coming out of the scrimmage. Anthony Kelly, Mike Poppleton and Stephen Peyser, who could be a swing man, all made a strong case but who do you put up against Canada’s Geoff Snider? Do you use two spots for two FOGO’s or take one and a swing guy?   Defensively, it’s hard to say exactly who I would take as these guys all played well. Schwartzman mentioned that Loyola’s Joe Fletcher stood out the most to him, not due to anything flashy because he’s not that type of player, but because he does all the little things right. Brian Farrell used his LSM skills to full force, playing good defense and some manipulative offense.

Brett Schmidt made a strong case for himself, breaking down and playing his angles very well, not to mention his quick hands are lethal. Michael Evans hammered his opponents hands during his one on one situations, something he does all too well. Lee Zink was a leader on the field, vocal and aggressive as always. Tucker Durkin played more team during the game which is good for him because the coaches know he can play their system while also having the ability to go one on one. Kyle Hartzell and Kyle Sweeney should move on to the 30 as both guys can transition very well and Sweeney is also a swing guy up top to LSM while Hartzell can bring it from the outside. It was tough to see short stick defensive kids push the ball in transition with no shot clock and the teams slowing it down. Matt Abbott did his job and then some, per the norm.

Kevin Drew got to strut his stuff a few times. Young offensive guys made a statement in Jojo Marasco, Drew Snider, Marcus Holman, and Garrett Thul. Holman and Thul have cannons and there’s hardly any way a goaltender can stop their shots if their hands are free. Marasco got to play on a line with Rabil and Striebel, two of the best on the game. He was a work horse and feeder on the mid line and worked well with the other two guys. Snider tallied a goal and is valuable with his two-way capabilities as well. There are some guys that are on the bubble for me after Sunday. Eric Law didn’t have a stand out game but he created a goal or two. Kyle Harrison can still bring it, and Drew Adams knows that now after taking a ripper from him in the first half. Just not sure about him though as he can create, that’s a given, but his shooting was off.

Ryan Young did not have a good game. He’s usually electrifying but his game was off. Matt Mackrides was on the bubble as well, even though he did score a goal and got off some good shots. I’m not sure if he is what the coaches are looking for but I could see him making the 30-man roster before final cuts. Rob Pannell did not perform well Sunday either, which is scary because he boomed on the MLL scene. Steele Stanwick as well, he had a goal and that’s really all you heard from him.

Fans can look to see the roster announcement come February 5. Coach Meade and his staff have a grueling selection process over the next couple weeks.