(Photo Courtesy of Canada Lacrosse)
Canada, USA, and Virginia all went head-to-head over the weekend at the Fall Lacrosse Classic in Sparks, Maryland at US Lacrosse HQ. Friday night gave us an exciting battle between USA and Canada while Virginia played each back-to-back on Saturday afternoon.
While international rules were used to govern all three contest, all three teams seemed to make the transition very well. With no shot clock and different rules concerning the dive, teams did slow it down at times but fast-paced play was still very much alive.
USA vs Canada – 12-11 (Box Score)
USA vs Virginia -11-6 (Box Score)
Canada vs Virginia – 16-10 (Box Score)
A much younger team than the squad that traveled to Israel in 2018 for the World Lacrosse Championship, the future and rising stars of Canada lacrosse were on display all weekend. Only two players- Jeff Teat and Graeme Hossack- competed for Canada at the World Championship in Israel in 2018.
The biggest storyline coming out of the weekend for Canada was the play of Ryan Lee. Coming off one heck of a season with the Denver Outlaws in the MLL, Lee was by far the most productive player on the offensive end for Canada, recording a hat-trick against USA and sock-trick against Virginia- giving him nine goals in just two games.
Jeff Teat- one of a handful of current college players for Canada- also impressed this weekend, showing off his skill set as one of the premier passers in the game. Teat dished out four assists against USA and three against Virginia, totaling seven assists on the weekend. Also adding to Canada’s young offensive core, Andrew Kew and Clarke Petterson turned many heads with their play this weekend, especially in their Saturday contest against Virginia. Kew and Petterson each had four points (2G/2A) in the win over Virginia.
While Canada’s young offense was a major highlight of the weekend, their defense played also played very well. Graeme Hossack- the reigning NLL Defensive Player of The Year- was a leader on the Canadian defense. The veteran did what he does best, creating turnovers and then pushing transition to spark early offense- which Canada thrives on. Hossack also took things into his own hands, scoring one goal against Virginia and taking one shot against USA.
In goal for Canada, Brett Dobson and Drake Porter split time evenly in both games. Dobson got the start against USA and Porter started against Virginia. Both guys looked very poised and played well in both contests, showing a glimpse into the future of Canada’s goalie talent and depth in the field game.
Also, Faceoff man Justin Inacio showed just how special of a player he is. Inacio went 8-for-13 against USA and 5-for-13 against Virginia. The Ohio State Buckeye also scored off a faceoff win late in the second quarter against USA. Dan Balawejder and Graeme Hossack also took draws at the faceoff dot in both games this weekend.
For a team that only featured six players from the 2018 World Championship roster- Trevor Baptiste, Greg Gurenlian, John Haus, Will Haus, Marcus Homan, and Rob Pannell- the USA was very cohesive and showed an impressive amount of chemistry on both ends of the field.
Offensively, Marcus Holman was the USA’s most productive player, tallying one goal against Canada and two goals against Virginia. On the same attack line with his Archers LC teammate and co-assistant coach at Utah Will Manny, the chemistry between Holman and Manny was as apparent as ever. Manny had two goals and the assist on Joe Nardella’s game-winning goal against Canada and also dished out one assist against Virginia.
In addition to Holman and Manny, USA was able to show some great depth on the offensive end with young guns Jules Heningburg and Connor Kelly producing in both contests. That offensive depth proved to be very good for the USA as they were able to have success with multiple lines and not even skip a beat, continuing to initiate and run their offense from the same spaces on the field.
On the defensive end, USA was led by stellar play in goal from Brian Phipps and Jack Concannon. While Phipps got the start in both games, each guy played equal time. Phipps made four save against Canada and two against Virginia while Concannon had five save against Canada and seven against Virginia, looking the more solid of the two this weekend.
The defense out in front of the goal also played very well in both games. While they did struggle at times against the fiery offenses that both Canada and Virginia brought to the table, they stood tall for the most part. Garrett Epple, Tim Mueller appeared to be the most active defenseman. Also, short-stick defensive midfielder Brent Adams and long-stick midfielder Jarrod Neumann both put on a show, making a difference on both ends of the field. Against Virginia, Neumann scored one goal and Adams tallied two.
One place where USA did struggle, surprisingly, was at the faceoff dot. Against Canada, USA went a combined 7-for-13 with Trevor Baptiste going 2-for-5, Greg Gurelian going 3-for-5, and Joe Nardella going 2-for-5. The USA faceoff group was better against Virginia, going a combined 10-for-20 as Trevor Baptiste went 3-for-7, Joe Nardella went 2-for-6, and Greg Gurelian went 5-for-7.
Coming off a national title run, the Cavaliers return a good portion of their starters from last season, especially on offense with their first-line attack of Michael Kraus, Ian Laviano, and Matt Moore all back. Also, star midfielder Dox Aitken is back for the Cavaliers, as well.
Aitken was Virginia’s most productive scorer with two goals in both games, showcasing his ability to be a primary shooter from the midfield. In addition, Matt Moore was virtually unstoppable with four combined goals this weekend. Moore scored one against USA and three against Canada, working very well off-ball to get open for a quality time-and-room shot on cage.
Redshirt freshman Peter Cormier was the biggest surprise, scoring one goal against USA and putting up two points (1G/1A) against Canada. Cormier also contributed as a passer and role player that was able to help this offense run. In addition, the Cavaliers saw some good production from freshmen like Connor Shellenberger, further showcasing the depth that they possess. The Cavaliers riding ability and overall hustle that helped them through the impressive 2019 championship run was also on display in both games, as well.
With sophomore Cade Saustad out with an injury this fall and defense being an area of concern for the Cavaliers coming into this season, senior LSM Jared Conners stepped up and picked up exactly where he left off last season. Conners, as usual, got it done at both ends of the field in both games, scoring one goal in each game and helping push early offense after creating havoc on the defensive end. Also, freshman Scott Bower and junior Kyle Kology were effective pieces on defense.
Alex Rode played very well in cage, playing only half of each game and making five saves against USA and three saves against Canada. Senior Griffin Thompson and sophomore Penn transfer Miles Thompson also saw time in cage with Griffin playing against USA and Miles playing against Canada.
Petey LaSalla took the majority of the faceoffs for the Cavaliers, going 5-for-9 against USA and 6-for-7 against Canada. Freshman Gavin Tygh also took quite a bit of draws in both games, as well.