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December 21, 2010

For Team USA Lacrosse, 'World Champion' Has Nice Ring to It

by Nathaniel Badder | US Lacrosse Director of National Teams

Team USA goalie Brian Dougherty receives a hug and world championship ring from head coach Mike Pressler at the Cornell Club in New York. Browse more photos below.

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Getting the band back together is never easy.

Especially not when the band consists of 40-plus players, coaches and staff members strewn about the country like pepperonis on a pizza.

But that's exactly what we did last Friday when we invited the members of the 2010 FIL World Champion U.S. men's national team, their friends and family to the Cornell Club in New York to celebrate the team's achievements and receive their championship rings. Bling!

To set the mood, we opened with a brief video which reminded the group of all that the team had gone through and accomplished. (Check it out below. I challenge you not to get chills.)

US Lacrosse COO Bill Schoonmaker then delivered some pertinent remarks thanking the coaches and players for their efforts, reminding them of how they fit into the larger lacrosse landscape. He turned over the podium to Team USA general manager Billy Rebman who, in addition to distributing the hardware to the team's volunteer staff, shared a number of hysterical responses to those in the blogosphere who had voiced pointed criticism over the team's selection and makeup.

Then it was head coach Mike Pressler's turn to take the microphone.

In the joyous chaos that followed the 12-10 victory over Canada in the championship game, Coach P reminded the group, the team did not get a chance to award the game ball.

"I didn't need to watch the tape of the game to figure out who deserved this," Pressler said, holding up an autographed ball from that day in July. "But watching the game again this week, it was even more clear. You've got The Catch and The Throw... and now you've got The Save."

2010 FIL World Champions from Michael Schwartz on Vimeo.

The crowd erupted.

And the face of Team USA goalie Brian Dougherty, whose third-quarter, man-down kick save against Canada's Kevin Crowley kept the U.S. in the game and set the stage for Ned Crotty's fourth-quarter heroics, turned bright red.

Walking to the front of the room to share an embrace with Pressler, the normally ebullient and talkative Dougherty said simply, "I'm speechless."

Pressler then rattled off the names of each coach and player in attendance. By way of introduction, he shared a story or two about the individual. Shawn Nadelen's recovery from ACL surgery. Ryan Powell's willingness to take on a secondary role. Paul Rabil's blistering first-quarter shots which set the tone for the championship game.

And then, before inviting the individual up, Pressler punctuated the introduction with four powerful words: Team USA, world champion.

That's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?


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