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I recently had the opportunity to speak with US Lacrosse’s Rob Scherr about the trend toward younger recruiting in college lacrosse. He was a heavily recruited keeper out of Baltimore’s McDonogh School before heading off to Johns Hopkins. “I’m not speaking for U.S Lacrosse when I say this, but it’s my personal opinion that it’s crazy how recruited kids are getting younger and younger. These guys should be focusing on school, and getting better, not deciding where they will go to college by their sophomore year in high school.”

I asked him what he thought was responsible for this sudden shift in the recruiting process? He said, “As the game is growing, and we see more players like Will Yeatman coming out of the west coast, college coaches think they have to jump on these kids before someone else does.  It’s just competition.  I remember getting my first letter and it’s a very exciting time.  But when you’re that young you don’t really know how to make a big decision like that.”

The US Lacrosse U-15 National Championship is set to begin July 6, 2009. It will be held in Bel Air, Md. at Cedar Lane Sports Park. The tournament will have boys and girls youth programs from across the nation, competing and representing their respective teams and regions. The girls will kick-off the event July 6, crowing their champion July 8, while the boys start July 8, finishing their National Championship July 10. This 5-day event is special for several reasons. It’s never been done before. And with the more recent trend in recruiting with college coaches striving to commit players at a younger age, it’s refreshing that this tournament has nothing to do with recruiting and everything to do with having fun, building strong competition, and honoring the game. US Lacrosse’s public relations manager Colleen Sperry Aungst explained the origins of the event to me, “Based on the success and positive participant and spectator experience of the US Lacrosse National Youth Festivals since 1998, there was a big desire to roll out a national championship event like this for the lacrosse community. It is our responsibility to take a leadership role in launching the inaugural event to establish a benchmark standard of quality and experience for everyone involved – players, coaches, parents and spectators. ”

In order for a team to register for the tournament they must be a member of US Lacrosse, which means that some states will have an advantage when representing their regions, like Maryland, New York, and New Jersey, simply due to the fact that they have more US Lacrosse members in those regions. The list of teams competing can be found on the US lacrosse site (http://www.uslacrosse.org/news/2009/u15ncteams.phtml).

The West coast amongst other areas has been developing strong youth programs within the past few years, but can they compete with the East coast? Former Johns Hopkins standout goalie Rob Scherr definitely believes so, “I know all those teams will do well. If you’re a great athlete it doesn’t matter where you’re from.” Colleen agreed, “The breadth and scope of lacrosse talent is far reaching these days. There are incredibly competitive teams coming to the National Championship from all over the country.”

Perhaps some new rivalries as intense as the ones Maryland and New York natives are used to will begin at this tournament. One thing is for sure. Come July there will be two new U-15 lacrosse champions, but where will they be from? Tune in to E-Lacrosse to find out.

After speaking with a close friend who happens to be a Division I assistant coach yesterday who was scouting a high school game I realized that the west coast timetable is a bit different. As high school playoffs are still concluding for most of the country, here on the west coast, players are already beginning to dive into camps and equally as important summer leagues.

The summer experience is a bit different than what one might be used to on the east coast. When moving out of populated city areas, such as LA and Phoenix, you find that the rising spots of lacrosse are making both courageous and unique efforts to keep guys playing and loving the game.

The structure of the old Hero’s lacrosse league or Loch Raven lacrosse league in Maryland does not yet exist here in that capacity. Instead, passionate individuals and even the owners of lacrosse retailers have worked to establish a more casual inviting summer league lacrosse experience.

What is amazing is that if you were to spend a few minutes networking through a west coast lacrosse forum you could find a high–school or college field almost every night of the week in the Northern California Bay Area and have an opportunity to play.

A great example is a gentleman named Jaime Poore, a former Chico State standout who hosts a pickup session for all ages on two fields in the town of Santa Rosa California every Tuesday night. He creates a feel of community by using his resources in a developing lacrosse area. He knows that a contribution from every level of player is critical to drive the growth of our sport. It is an amazing vibe to see a Sonoma State starting midfielder get on a line with a rising Varsity high school player and help them pick up their level of play without being annoyed that the high school guy doesn’t get the same concept of team offense and defense.

As long as we have people like Jaime that teach for the love of the game, the growth of lacrosse is in great hands out here.

There’s a reason they hold tryouts. It’s the fair way to choose the U.S. National team. It does not always yield the best team and that can’t be known until the chemistry of the team develops. I personally have seen plenty of every single player on the list in my last entry and tend to think their recent composite performance is more valuable as reliable data than the US Team Tryouts, as entertaining as they are. There are so many combinations possible for great outcomes on the field and everyone could come up with a great team just picking their favorites. I have selected my team, NOT BASED ON TRYOUTS, but completely based on my knowledge of these players and how they might play together. This was a very hard task and I do not envy US Coach Mike Pressler his task next week in Rhode Island. He must take the list of so many great players and pare it down to 40 and then eventually to 23. Here are my 23:

Name - Current Team - College

Attack

Matt Danowski - Long Island Lizards - Duke ‘08
Sean Morris - Boston Cannons - Massachusetts ‘06
Brendan Mundorf - Denver Outlaws - UMBC ‘06

Scott Urick - Washington Bayhawks - Georgetown ‘00
Joe Walters - Toronto Nationals - Maryland ‘06
Matt Ward - Long Island Lizards - Virginia ‘06

Midfield

Matt Abbott - Syracuse - Syracuse ‘09
Steven Brooks - Chicago Machine - Syracuse ‘08
Terry Kimener - Chicago Machine - UMBC ‘08
Ned Crotty - Duke - Duke ‘09
Kyle Dixon - Washington Bayhawks - Virginia ‘06
John Glynn - Cornell - Cornell ‘09
Paul Rabil - Boston Cannons - Johns Hopkins ‘08
Max Seibald - Cornell - Cornell ‘09
Alex Smith - Washington Bayhawks - Delaware ‘07

Defense

Ryan Curtis - Vermont Voyageurs LC - Virginia ‘00
Michael Evans - Johns Hopkins - Johns Hopkins ‘09
Nick O’Hara - Toronto Nationals - Duke ‘07
Chris Passavia - Boston Cannons - Maryland ‘04
Jack Reid - Boston Cannons - Massachusetts ‘06
Kyle Sweeney - Washington Bayhawks - Georgetown ‘03

Goalie

Chris Garrity - Washington Bayhawks - Penn State ‘04
Rob Scherr - Toronto Nationals - Johns Hopkins ‘04

Last guys cut:

Matt McMonagle was a coin toss with my buddy Rob Scherr, Tony McDevitt is just a hair behing Nick O’Hara now, My defense is a disciplined and patient pain machine that can beat Canada’s offense in the game and a fight. Canada is hoping we pick guys like Gagliardi, Spallina and Clausen. Christian Cook would be a great leader and I might have switched him for Chris Passavia, but for Chris’ intensity and the leadership we get out of Ryan Curtis anyway. Curtis takes the Canada 2006 loss personally. We need that, but not too much of it. Jack Reid is a huge star on my team. He’s the wing on face-offs too. He and O’Hara will score some goals on my team too.

Alex Smith, the FOGO (face-off getoff) on this team, is too specialized and not as good an all around player and teammate as Matt Zash, but the big question isn’t who can beat each other at the face-off X, but rather, who can beat Jeff Snider of Canada and Alex is the only player in the world that gives you an even chance. With Jack Reid and Max Seibald or Matt Abbott on wing, we have a chance.

Middies Tom Zummo and Stephen Berger are too good to cut and yet I did. I am hoping both make the team via the tryout. I would have kept Cassese for leadership but I need to have Smith to win. I learned the lesson last time after we benched Paul Cantabene and he watched Snider slaughter us from the sideline. If any lesson was learned in 2006, it’s take the best face-off guy, period.

Attackmen Mike Leveille and Ryan Boyle deserve to make the team but it’s Leveille or Ward and its Boyle or Danowski. We certainly can’t have the ball in more than one stick at a time in the crunch. Remember we are trying to build chemistry. Morris is a must have, Urick may be the MVP of the whole World Games, Mundorf and Walters have matured into reliable scorers and are among the world’s best right now. I might have also chosen Kevin Buchanan. I was sorry to cut him. I’d love to have Mark Kovler on the extra man lefty position too, but we only get 23.

The full list of Team USA tryout invitees is below.

The complete list of selections (updated June 2 2009 – from US Lacrosse) follows:

Attack

Matt Alrich - Boston Cannons - Delaware ‘04
Ryan Boyle - Boston Cannons - Princeton ‘04
Kevin Buchanan - Washington Bayhawks - Ohio State ‘08
Brandon Corp - Boston Cannons - Colgate ‘09
Matt Danowski - Long Island Lizards - Duke ‘08
Dan Glading - Washington Bayhawks - Virginia ‘09
Seth Goldberg - Long Island Lizards - Yale ‘05
Mark Kovler - Long Island Lizards - Princeton ‘09
Kevin Leveille - Chicago Machine - Massachusetts ‘03
Mike Leveille - Chicago Machine - Syracuse ‘08
Sean Morris - Boston Cannons - Massachusetts ‘06
Brendan Mundorf - Denver Outlaws - UMBC ‘06
Ryan Powell - Big Foot LC - Syracuse ‘00
Justin Smith - Washington Bayhawks - Salisbury ‘05
Scott Urick - Washington Bayhawks - Georgetown ‘00
Joe Walters - Toronto Nationals - Maryland ‘06
Matt Ward - Long Island Lizards - Virginia ‘06
Drew Westervelt - Denver Outlaws - UMBC ‘07
Chazz Woodson - Chicago Machine - Brown ‘05
Will Yeatman - Maryland - Maryland ‘10

Midfield

Matt Abbott - Washington Bayhawks - Syracuse ‘09
Stephen Berger - Long Island Lizards - Washington ‘04
Shamel Bratton - Virginia - Virginia ‘11
Steven Brooks - Chicago Machine - Syracuse ‘08
Kevin Cassese - Boston Cannons - Duke ‘03
Jonathan Christmas - Boston Cannons - Virginia ‘05
Dan Cocchi - Long Island Lizards - Towson ‘03
Ned Crotty - Duke - Duke ‘09
Kyle Dixon - Washington Bayhawks - Virginia ‘06
Greg Downing - Boston Cannons - Fairfield ‘07
Chris Eck - Boston Cannons - Colgate ‘08
Benson Erwin - Washington Bayhawks - Johns Hopkins ‘05
Chris Fiore - Long Island Lizards - Massachusetts ‘03
John Glynn - Chicago Machine - Cornell ‘09
Dan Hardy - Denver Outlaws - Syracuse ‘09
Pat Heim - GMH LC - Penn State ‘07
Anthony Kelly - Chicago Machine - Ohio State ‘03
Terry Kimener - Chicago Machine - UMBC ‘08
Brendan Loftus - Chicago Machine - Syracuse ‘08
Bill McGlone - Chicago Machine - Maryland ‘06
Blake Miller - Long Island Lizards - Hofstra ‘96
Jarett Park - Chicago Machine - Syracuse ‘05
Stephen Peyser - Long Island Lizards - Johns Hopkins ‘08
Paul Rabil - Boston Cannons - Johns Hopkins ‘08
Chris Schiller - Salin Shoe LC - Penn State ‘99
Max Seibald - Denver Outlaws - Cornell ‘09
Doug Shanahan - Ft. Lauderdale Flamingos LC - Hofsra ‘02
Alex Smith - Washington Bayhawks - Delaware ‘07
Matt Striebel - Chicago Machine - Princeton ‘01
Peter Vlahakis - Long Island Lizards - Fairfield ‘04
Matt Zash - Long Island Lizards - Duke ‘06
Thomas Zummo - Boston Cannons - NY Tech ‘05

Defense

Mitch Belisle - Boston Cannons - Cornell ‘07
Matthew Bocklet - Denver Outlaws - Johns Hopkins ‘08
Joe Cinosky - Toronto Nationals - Maryland ‘08
Ken Clausen - Virginia - Virginia ‘10
Christian Cook - Capital LC - Princeton ‘98
Adam Crystal - Duke/Tobay LC - Drexel ‘07
Ryan Curtis - Vermont Voyageurs LC - Virginia ‘00
DJ Driscoll - Chicago Machine - Notre Dame ‘06
Barney Ehrmann - Georgetown - Georgetown ‘10
Michael Evans - Washington Bayhawks - Johns Hopkins ‘09
John Gagliardi - Long Island Lizards - Johns Hopkins ‘97
Colin Hulme - Boston Cannons - Colgate ‘07
Ryan McClay - Boston Cannons - Cornell ‘03
Tony McDevitt - Long Island Lizards - Duke ‘07
Stephen McElduff - Boston Cannons - North Carolina ‘06
Parker Mckee - Duke - Duke ‘10
Shawn Nadelen - Washington Bayhawks - Johns Hopkins ‘01
Nick O’Hara - Toronto Nationals - Duke ‘07
Chris Passavia - Boston Cannons - Maryland ‘04
Jack Reid - Boston Cannons - Massachusetts ‘06
Peter Ricci - Washington Bayhawks - Loyola ‘09
Brian Spallina - Long Island Lizards - Hofstra ‘00
Kyle Sweeney - Washington Bayhawks - Georgetown ‘03
Lee Zink - Denver Outlaws - Maryland ‘04

Goalie

Brian Dougherty - Long Island Lizards - Maryland ‘96
Adam Fullerton - Denver Outlaws - Army ‘08
Chris Garrity - Washington Bayhawks - Penn State ‘04
Mickey Jarboe - Quicksilver LC - Navy ‘00
Joey Kemp - Chicago Machine - Notre Dame ‘08
Matt McMonagle - Long Island Lizards - Cornell ‘07
Rob Scherr - Toronto Nationals - Johns Hopkins ‘04
Kip Turner - Boston Cannons - Virginia ‘07

Players Originally Invited But Unable to Attend

Greg Peyser (injury)
Zac Jungers (medical)
Andy Corno (work)
Jed Prossner (work)
Brett Hughes (injury)
Nicky Polanco (injury)
Kyle Harrison (injury)
Matt Poskay (injury)
Eric Martin (injury)
Tim Goettelmann (work)

As many of you now, I’ve never been a big fan of MLL league management, because it is a failing model based on selling sporting goods and not advancing our sport.  It’s run with the financial acumen and sense of fair play one might expect from the new Barack Obama government. That said, I totally respect the teams, players and coaches that work so hard to put a great product on the field, which they consistently do.  In fact they have done so in such a consistent manner that we are reaching milestones for some of those players.  This season will mark the one hundredth game for a few players.  Long Island’s Tim Goettelman and the Washington’s Scott Urick, just played their 100th game last weekend.  Long Island’s Brian Dougherty (the Terps Goalie) has 97 games under his belt and beer belly.  Blake Miller has 96 and defenseman John Gagliardi has 94. 

But I want to spotlight Scott Urick, the assistant coach and former star of the Georgetown Hoyas.  He was the coach’s kid.  He had upstate NY roots but played High School ball at Robinson in Northern Virginia, after his dad took the Hoya’s job.  Robinson was a good team for Northern Virginia in the 90’s, but he stood out – way out.  While in college he looked like my heroes of the past working without the ball to get open on cuts.  Remember cuts.  He was a quickstick artist.  Remember quicksticks.  He really played the game old dudes like me appreciated and respected while everyone else, it seems, stood still and fired the big cannon shots.  When he got to the MLL he morphed into a guy that could still finish, but also lead on the offense.  He had a big shot all along, but now finally put it to use when his team needed just that.  He is still the most affable guy on the field and a modest fellow generally.  That said, he is about to surpass the most arrogant and self indulging player in the history of the game in points scored.  He is only 12 goals away from knocking the self anointed lacrosse god Mark Millon off of his homemade pedestal.  To make things sweeter, he gets to knock Millon’s social sidekick Jesse Hubbard out of the record books too.  The two  will lose their “invictus” status right before all of our eyes and that is very pleasing to many.  All hail the true Warrior, Scotty Urick.

Gagliardi, Dougherty, Miller and Urick are battling this week to be the oldest player on the 2010 U.S. Team heading to Manchester, England to avenge the US loss to Canada in the 2006 games.  The try-outs take place Monday through Wedesday at Bryant University in Rhode Island. Goettelman’s got a real civilian job that needs his attention instead.  I think he’s on Wall Street, so we’ll just let him keep working without giving him grief.  They have lots of work to do, fighting our own government to keep us a free capitalist nation and all. 

header_cliWhen moving to Northern California in 2004 from the traditional hot bed of lacrosse we call Baltimore, I certainly did not anticipate being in an area where in a matter of 5 years lacrosse would be pushing to the forefront of the college and high school scene. I am happy to share with the world that lacrosse has not only hit the west coast with force, it is here to stay.

The following blog entries will not only be my perspective on the game, but also highlight the individuals, the events, and the happenings that are growing the game we love and bringing it to new unprecedented levels on the west coast. From Phoenix Arizona, to Newport Beach California, to the Bay Area around San Francisco, to Portland Oregon, to the even Puget Sound area in Washington.

Check back in with me as I share this side of the country with you through my daily travels and interactions.
Thanks,

Pat Miller

Bio:
Pat Miller is excited to return as a regular e-lacrosse contributor again after a few year hiatus. Pat has been involved with lacrosse for most of his life. He was a standout multi-sport athlete at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, MD continuing on as a scholarship lacrosse player at Johns Hopkins University. There he would later serve as an assistant coach managing arguably the top face-off trio in the nation of now MLL stars Kyle Harrison, Greg Peyser and Lou Braun. Now in California, Miller is the head lacrosse coach of Cardinal Newman High School, a quickly rising power in the Northern California lacrosse scene, as well as helping with the ASU Men’s lacrosse program in Tempe Az. His company Amplify Your Game provides lacrosse players and coaches with various affordable learning opportunities and networking.

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