The US National Lacrosse Team Roster now consists of 23 men that are ready to take on the rest of the best that the lax world has to offer. The team was selected by the US National Team Coaching Staff, led by Head Coach Mike Pressler of Bryant University, who coached previously at Duke (for 16 years) after coaching at OWU (for 5 years with 3 title game appearance and 2 more FFs), after he was an assistant at Army under Jack Emmer and after being a coach at VMI… you get the picture, the guy can coach just a little and really does seem to know what he’s doing.
Now, no matter how great a resume or how solid a decision may end up being, the commentariat has the oh-so-easy task of picking it apart. And, as usual, the nameless, faceless naysayers have risen (or sunk) to the occasion and degraded Pressler’s (and his staff’s) decisions. Let’s see if any of these gripes can actually hold any water!
Some comments on lax.com complained that Pressler showed too much “Duke love”… except Pressler didn’t pick Danowski. Or McKee. Or O’Hara. He did pick Crotty but that kid can straight up distribute from so many places and is a really versatile player. He’ll be a great set up guy on this team. Zash and Cassesse are athletes who will probably play a lot of D-mid and set up transition. The same people also often didn’t know much about Schiller. Well, here you go: Schiller is fast, physical and probably the best pure D-mid, wing-man, no glory guy out there. Some people said, “he doesn’t play in the MLL so how could he make the team?” Well, he PLAYED in the MLL, plays in the NLL and is nasty. so that’s how.
There were some other quality comments like, “why weren’t Kyle Harrison and Danowski included when they are the most popular and well-known players other than the Powells?” Popularity has never won a lacrosse game so I think Pressler went in the right direction by basing it purely off of the chemistry and performance at training camp. KH has had a tough year, so while it really sucks he’s been injury ridden, he’ll get another shot next time around to show off his stuff on the world stage.
Another poster goes on to say that Matt Danowski and Joe Walters are the “best lacrosse players in the world right now”. Personally, I don’t agree but I have to ask the question, “what are you smoking and where can I get some?” Joe Walters can still shoot the lights out and his dodging and feeding games have certainly gone to the next level but to say he and fellow young gun Dino are the best right now just doesn’t ring true to many people. I could have seen either of them on the team with ease but they didn’t make it… so let’s not make outrageous comments about how they are the two best players out there. Especially when its about picking the best team and not the best individual players.
On laxpower.com, one poster questions the pick of Fullerton and chalks it up to politics. I guess if there is a position that could be considered the most political, it would have to be the back-up keeper. Wait, what? That clearly makes no sense. Now, Alberici reps Army hard but I just can’t believe that an Armed Forces guy would pick an Army player over a Navy player based solely on their military institution. The love of country and honesty just doesn’t mesh with that statement. Sure these teams hate each other when they play but the respect beyond that overcomes any animosity.
On IL’s roster page, posters used both the very weak “Pressler LOVES Duke players” excuse and on top of that he says that the team needs less transition and d players. WOW. 2 awful comments in one post. Most impressive! This team only has 6 poles and a couple D mids whereas other squads (2002, 2006) had 7 poles and a lot of specialized D players.
Lots of people (including our main man, Quint) questioned why Kevin Leveille didn’t make it and this is actually the best question I’ve seen so far. He played very well (from all accounts and video) and is a straight up scoring machine. My guess is that Pressler thinks other guys can score as well as KL AND create better. We’ll have to wait and see but I think KL might have been a better pick than Westervelt overall but not if you saw these guys play. DW was on fire and if he can keep that up, he will dominate internationally next summer.
Quint also felt Joe Walters was left out andd while I agree that the guy can straight up BALL with the best, maybe he didn’t mesh as well with the other guys… who knows? Quint also points out that Walters is an attackman but tried out at midfield. I don’t think that is going to help anyone make the team though. If Pressler wants to load up the midfield with attackmen, he can just use… his other attackmen. Some talented guys were left off the roster… that was just inevitable. Quint then goes on to say that there aren’t enough “scoring middies” and mentions Chris Schiller, Matt Zash, Kevin Cassesse, Alex Smith and Max Seibald. Personally, I see 3 d-mid/wingmen, a NASTY F/O guy and a do it all middie who can play D, clear and score. Where’s the problem again?
Quint likes the D overall but laments that Lee Zink didn’t make it and while Zink has been dominant in the MLL he might be a penalty machine under the ILF rules. The “takeaway” check they show from an MLL game of Zink is a perfect example: that would be a hold in International ball. Zink is GREAT 1 on 1 but I am willing to bet the other guys were better in a team D sense and that is what the US needs to beat our neighbors to the North. Quint likes the team though and goes on to pick them as 3.5 goal favorites over Canada.
On the same IL post, a commenter asks why McClay made it over Spallina and Reid and then goes on to say that we need “physical” defenders. Well McClay IS physical, he’s just not a slash fanatic. And if you’ve ever seen International ball, you will know that rampant slashing just doesn’t fly. And if we really need someone to go out and slash the living daylights out of an opponent, Eric Martin is on the roster and up to the task, I’m sure. At times, he makes Spallina and Reid look tame. I guess Pressler thought one was enough!
If you have other questions, I can try to answer them in the comments section. The process was long, fair and ultimately was going to piss some people off. You just KNOW that Kyle Harrison wanted to rep the US HARD and that players like Reid, Leveille and Zink are crushed to get cut but that right there is what will help win the US the gold next summer… the knowledge that a TON of other guys really wanted this. This will keep the level of pride high and will demand a championship effort and end from all involved.
More photos from John Cinosky: