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Loyola Vs. USA: Key Takeaways

Contrasting Styles

Loyola played their brand of up-tempo, team lacrosse. They moved the ball well, and attacked when Team USA was out on an island, or out of sync defensively. A good team defense is clearly key to containing Loyola this year, as they play a great team offense, rarely just relying on one guy to dodge and score. The Grey Hounds used nice ball movement, some three man plays, and a lot of cutters to keep Team USA guessing.

This team is ready to go, and will be from Day 1. Expect another run towards the ‘ship from Loyola. 8 of 10 starters are back, they got some key transfers (like Kutner from SJU), and they’re playing their style of lacrosse. Loyola will be SUPER dangerous, all season long. Duh.

Team USA used their edge in one on one match ups to score goals and create, and seemed content to let their poles match up one-on-one for much of the game. The US gave up some penalties because of this isolation, and possibly because they are used to a looser called game in the MLL. Another potential reason for the heavy 1-on-1 style of platy was that this group of USA players was fighting to make the next camp group. And let’s be honest, these guys don’t play together all that much, and that makes a difference. These guys all play to win and tried to do so as a team, but when you also play to make the next selection round, it can change some things. The lack of time together was likely the largest factor, as well as Loyola’s excellent play.

Sam Bradman tore it up for Team USA.

Photo Credit: James Kilby

The Reffing

Overall, I thought the game was called well, and as anyone who watches International Lacrosse can tell you, the slashes that were called against Team USA probably would be called against Canada. FIL lacrosse is reffed quite tight sometimes. You never know So it was accurate enough for both teams, and the game never got out of hand, even when it was at its most physical. And it did get physical.

The refs did a good job of adjusting to the new rules, and while there were a couple of mix ups and moments of confusion, the zebras were still in control and knew what they were doing. For the scrimmage being one of their first public times out with the new rules, I thought they did an excellent job. This bodes well for the season, although I’d be shocked if there weren’t one or two big incidents throughout the season, especially at lower levels of play.

New Rules – Other Than Sticks

Loyola plays fast already, and the USA players are used to it because of the Pro leagues. It’s clear that Loyola has made some adjustments in teaching certain guys to be more well-rounded, and this should help them in the regular season. The Grey Hounds have lots of guys who can do lots of things well in their midfield. Again, duh. They won it all last year and looked superb. Look for others to try to mimic this style of midfield roster, where size helps, but a motor helps more.

Teams that have been recruiting one dimensional players are going to feeling the pain big time.

No Horns? I like it. I don’t mind some substitutions being made during the run of play. At least something is going on. Removing sideline horns makes lacrosse better to watch on TV, as a fan.

Bigger boxes lead to more gamesmanship with subs. It was interesting and I think we’ll see a lot of evolution here as the season goes on. Quint remarked that this forces schools to get fields relined, which is an added cost. That was an interesting point I’d never considered, as I am against higher costs, if possible. I guess it rewards teams that play on grass.

Stall warning… It was a fast paced game. We didn’t get nearly enough examples to really tell how this will pan out. Maybe the rules just did their job? Probably not. It was just a great game.

New Rules – Sticks

Quint likes it. He thinks “passing has been more crisp” and that there are “less bags“. Sounds good to me and I couldn’t agree more. Could guys still rip the ball super hard, and super accurate? Yes. It lends more creedence to the belief that these changes weren’t the end of the world, and really only impacted less skilled players. We saw a couple more takeaways, some good transition work, and plenty of skill. See? The loss of the U and V shooter really isn’t that bad. Next.

Standout Players

Loyola: The Hounds had a bunch of guys stand out. Davis Butts – Carried the ball and dodged well through the midfield. He finished strong and looked right at home against the USA guys. Mike Sawyer – Rip City. Sawyer can zing the ball and hasn’t lost a step. Maybe he’s even gained a step. Jack Runkel – the big goalie looked confident, and stayed big against the best. Runkel should allow Loyola to be even more aggressive this year with their poles. Justin Ward dished out three assists, proving to be a key cog in the Loyola machine. All of the Loyola Poles were impressive, and athletic. They played well together against some legendary players. Loyola Face Off team – A lot of fight, and excellent wing play won Loyola possessions.

Team USA: Let’s talk about the Pros. Sam Bradman went 3-2 for five points and looked very comfortable out there. He played well inside and outside. Kyle Harrison generated good separation and created match up problems. Matt Gibson played and scored very efficiently, and adds a different type of look to the roster.

Steve DeNapoli and Mike Simon were excellent as defensive minded midfielders, Simon as an LSM. Chazz Woodson was electrifying on attack, and is a no brainer to pick for 2014. He’s simply too much of a one on one problem for any team to handle.  John Galloway was good in goal, while Scott Rodgers couldn’t seem to get going. It’s tough to go in spurts like that, and I think we won’t know more about the goalie situation until the next tryout.