Editor’s Note: Please welcome Al Scriffiano to LaxAllStars.com! Al took in the Team USA U-19 vs New Jersey All Stars scrimmage on Sunday and wrote up a great report! But first, a little background on how Al got involved with LAS: Connor played box lacrosse with Al in Prague this past April, and Al joined the LaxAllStars.com/CityLax team last weekend for the Salt Shakerz Invitational. All this led to Al joining the LAS Community and submitting a great post!
Everyone loves a winner, and nobody likes losing. All the time in the gym, on the wall, and at practice is spent so that the bitter feeling that accompanies losing is as infrequent as possible. Unfortunately, anyone who competes for a long enough time, and at a high enough level, knows all too well what it feels like to lose.
Even the greatest athletes of all-time have fallen short of the ultimate goal more often than they have seen success. Consider that Joe Montana’s 15 season NFL career resulted in only four championships, and you start to get the picture.
Now consider this: the USA U-19 men’s team has never lost a game… EVER. Over the course of the past six international U-19 tournaments, the boys in the stars and stripes have not only won every championship, but they have also won every single game they have ever played.
Great success, however, carries with it a great burden, and the actual magnitude of that burden is not lost on the 2012 team, or the coaching staff. Head coach Tim Flynn knows better than most that his team can not hang their collective hats on past successes. That is why he scheduled four of the toughest scrimmages he could find to test out his crew before the trip across the pond.
(EN: nice shades, fellas!)
And yet, despite the incredible talent on the side of the opposition, the USA easily defeated the Dallas All-Stars and the Long Island All-Stars, 26-4 and 12-4, respectively.
The game against the Eastern Pennsylvanian All-Stars was a differently story altogether. The team from the Keystone state came out on fire, and played inspired lacrosse that put them in a great spot early on. The USA U-19 team fought back over the course of a hard game, but ultimately fell short in the end, losing 15-14 in overtime. It’s not an official game, or an official loss, but for a team like the US U-19 team, it could be a difference maker.
Perhaps, this loss is just the motivation the team needed to continue their undefeated international streak alive. This was exemplified the following week, as the U-19 team had its final scrimmage against the All-Stars from NJ at 3 pm on Sunday.
At 1 pm on game day, the players started rolling in to the locker room one at a time. Some guys had headphones in, while others were content with their own thoughts. As the locker room filled up, the sound of pedaling stationary bikes, ripping tape, and the familiar thud of lax balls against cinder block walls filled the air. The coaches did not need to say a word, as the severity of the situation wasn’t lost on anyone.
Every player had the look of a man possessed. Another loss, even if only in a scrimmage, was unacceptable. “Let the boys do their thing,” Coach Flynn instructs everyone with his finger firmly on the pulse of the team. He understands that no additional motivation or direction is required.
At around 2:30 pm, the team jogs in unison behind the broad stripes of the Stars and Stripes on to the field underneath the scorching sun. They have a silent confidence about them. While everyone around seems paralyzed by the unrelenting heat, Team USA’s swagger is unwavering.
After a hard fought game, the US U-19 team emerged with a 9-4 win, and they showed they can score a lot of goals and play great defense, while controlling a game. This was a team, who would refuse to experience the bitter taste of defeat on the day, and from the looks of things, possibly never again.
For action photos from the game, check out Lacrosse Magazine’s Jim O’Connor photo gallery.
Do you think Team USA will go undefeated again this time around, or will one of the up and coming International programs finally knock the US off the pedestal?