Author’s Note: Throughout the summer of 2015 we will be working with our contacts around the globe to put together the best previews of each country participating in the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. If you would like to share information regarding the progress of your nation’s programs, please feel free to drop us a line!
Of all the intriguing storylines in the months leading up to the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, Team Switzerland, a new and homegrown entry into the box game, is the squad surrounded by the most mystery. Some of the curtains were unveiled today, as Switzerland announced a 18-man travel roster for WILC.
We didn’t come out with a big press release or anything announcing our participation,” said Switzerland Head Coach Scott Hylen, a California native who has been living in Montreux, Switzerland, and has made tremendous progress in building both the Swiss indoor and field programs. “Our focus has really been teaching the game and selecting our team.
Hylen spread word of the new indoor program to Switzerland’s nine field lacrosse club teams, and was able to recruit 60 players for January’s national team tryouts which were held just outside Zurich. The staff whittled the player pool down to 40, before holding another tryout in March, and made their final cuts after the European Box Invitational last weekend in the Czech Republic.
Switzerland went 1-2 at the invitational, suffering defeats at the hands of German-club Deutschland Adler, and a composite team comprised of mostly North American players who arrived early for the Aleš Hrebeský Memorial, however, the newcomers earned a gutsy 13-12 win over 7th-ranked Ireland.
We still have a real long way to go, but we’ve shown we can execute the basic concepts that we’re trying to teach,” added Hylen. “I don’t think we’ve ever defeated Ireland before in any format. The boys stepped up, finished strong, took advantage of their opportunities and got them by a goal.
Hylen is assisted by NLL agent Brent Nowicki, who resides in Lausanne, Switzerland, and has been instrumental in the program’s development, as well as Andre Blaser, a former homegrown Swiss player who has hung up his stick for a whistle.
Unlike most teams which will be taking a 23-man roster to Syracuse and shuffling their 18-man lineup game-to-game, Switzerland has named an 18-man roster who will appear in every game, and will bring up to five alternates in the case of injury only.
Standouts on the 18-man list include Felix Stutz, who led this Swiss in scoring at the Invitational with eight goals and two assists.
He’s just got a fantastic nose for the goal,” said Hylen. “He’s picked up the concepts very quickly and has done everything we’ve asked him to do.
Hylen also calls Phillip Sponagel a “very committed player. He’s always looking for ways to improve his game, watching other teams play and learning faster than almost anyone on the team.”
Alex Meier, a converted hockey goalie, is expected to lead the Swiss in goal.
I’ve got him in Junior pads and he’s still making amazing saves,” added Hylen.
With the team now selected, the focus will shift to training, starting with next weekend’s Nations Cup in Dresden. The Swiss will meet once monthly, including a unique hybrid box/field tournament, the first ever of its kind in Europe. The tournament, called HITS (Hybrid Invitational Tournament Switzerland), takes place from July 11-12.
Hylen hopes the event will feature eight teams (six are committed so far), and will have a special guest, as Team Canada’s Paul Day will be in attendance to work with both the Switzerland squad, and conduct private sessions with visiting teams participating in the event.
As far as Switzerland’s chances in September, a gold medal isn’t on the radar, but Hylen is optimistic for a strong debut with a 100% homegrown roster.
I think the guys are OK understanding that we’re not going to beat a team like Canada or the USA,” he added. “As we get closer, we’ll see what we’ve got to work with and we’ll start setting goals. Right now my goal is to just put the best product out there.
Switzerland WILC 2015 roster
D – Anneheim, Matias – Olten
T – Brunner, Patrick – Zurich
D – Glover, Jesse – Herzogenbuchsee
D/T – Haller, Michael – Wettingen
T – Heri, Lukas – Solothurn
F – Hirt, Rolf – Bern
G – Meier, Alex – Chur
F – Räber, Nicolai – Zurich
T – Schoch, Ian – Zurich
T – Schreiber, Ben – Olten
G – Schreiber, Dan – Olten
T/F – Schreiber, Joni – Olten
F – Sponagel, Philipp – Zurich
F – Stutz, Felix – Zurich
D/T – Trösch, Attila – Zurich
D/T – Von Jackowski, Mario – Basel
T – Zurkirchen, Luis – Zurich
D – Zweifel, Stefan – Zurich
T – Bernard, Carlo – (Alt) Zurich