Editor’s Note: Jamie Fleming, Business Development Officer for Scotland Lacrosse, has passed along this piece highlighting the travels and accomplishments of Team Scotland so far, on the road to Denver 2014.
As the Senior men’s Denver 2014 training squad return from their US tour, we look at how they fared in the land of the red, white and blue.
The men’s senior squad’s tour officially began on Wednesday 16th with the first training session taking place at Motamed Field, home of the Adelphi University Panthers. It was a light session and was used as a chance for the native Scots and North American Scots to learn each other’s playing styles. The day finished with the first of the fitness tests, including everyone’s favorite, the conditioning test.
Long-stick Midfielder John Goodwin topped the ranking with an impressive time, and at the opening ceremony that night was awarded the prestigious number 4 jersey for the first game against Adelphi. The number 4 jersey is an honor awarded to the player that best emulates Scotland’s former Captain, Robert Hetherington, who was sadly killed while serving in Afghanistan in May of this year.
Thursday saw a return to Motamed Field for another training session and further fitness tests. The max press-up test saw three players jointly rank first: Adam Sinclair, Luke Laszkiewicz, and Stefan Wyroslawski. While Midfielder Ryan Sage lead the broad jump ranking with a remarkable distance.
Scotland Lacrosse faced off against the Adelphi Panthers later that night, with the floodlight stadium, scoreboard and P.A. System a novelty for many of the domestic players. Both teams got off to a slow start and it was clear that the Scottish players were taking their time to find their rhythm in what was a faster paced game than most were used to. The Scots struggled to adapt to a few of the NCAA rules and found themselves down at half-time.
The Scots redeemed themselves in the second half scoring some fantastic goals including 4 goals by Kyle Buchannan and a left handed goal by Rory Marsden resulting from an out-of-bounds play. In the end the standard of Adelphi’s play was too much and Scotland slumped to a loss at the end of 5 periods.
The next day Scotland Lacrosse travelled to the Long Island University for training before playing the C. W. Post Pioneers at Bethpage High School. The coveted number 4 jersey remained between the defenders as Matt MacGrotty was awarded the jersey based on his performance against Adelphi.
Scotland started the game stronger and seemed determined to give a good account of themselves against a well organized side. The defense had a great first half clearing the ball efficiently and swapping between man-to-man and zone defense well. For the offense the two halves were very much night and day, for while the Scot’s only managed to find the net once in the first half they were able to slot 6 more past the Pioneers pipes in the second. Attacker Jesse Fehr lead the offense with 4 goals, even performing a perfectly executed hidden ball trick with the last shot of the match.
The team went into the final day of tour, facing their toughest opposition yet in Division 1 side, the Stony Brook Seawolves, with an enhanced sense of camaraderie. Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium was awe inspiring and many players used their well earned down time playing around and practicing in the empty arena while contemplating what exactly a Sea Wolf was. Stepping out onto the pitch and singing the national anthem, it was evident how much wearing the navy jersey meant to each and every player. This was apparent none more so than in the case of defensive midfielder Hal Jones who was awarded the number 4 jersey.
The game against Stony Brook was hard fought and whilst the Seawolves moved the ball more effectively it allowed them to take the lead, Scotland retaliated with great play all over the field. In particular the goalies had exceptional performances making save after save against the strong division one side, no doubt being spurred on by the choruses of Flower of Scotland ringing out from the bench.
In a review written to the players Head Coach John Kenney claimed that “From a coaching perspective, the trip was a success” before adding “I am convinced Scotland is capable and worthy of playing such a quality tour schedule. I was not wrong”. With just over 8 months left until the World Championship the players and coaches still have tough times ahead as only 23 of the 42 man roster will be selected to play in Denver.
Scotland Lacrosse Tour Awards
Mark Hodkin Offensive Award – Kyle Buchannan
John Marr Defensive Award – Matt MacGrotty
Rob Powell Unsung Hero Award – Hal Jones
Robert Hetherington Award – Douglas Freeman
Most Improved Player Award – Derek White