Elder Statesman Striebel Content with Tryout Decision
|Matt Striebel can become the
third player ever to make four U.S. men's national
© Jack Dempsey
BALTIMORE -- Matt Striebel watched as his contemporaries hung it up recently. His longtime friend Ryan Boyle retired from the Team USA fold shortly after he received his tryout invitation, and Casey Powell withdrew from consideration just days before this weekend's three-day evaluation at Goucher College in north Baltimore.
Striebel reconsidered what he was doing: at 34 years old, trying out for Team USA again. If he makes the final 23-man roster, he would be just the third player in the history of the U.S. men's national team to be a four-time member. National Hall of Famers Vinnie Sombrotto and John DeTommaso are the only ones to do it.
"I was on the fence. I wanted to know that I was going to be competitive," Striebel said. "I wanted to know that I wasn't going to be just a guy that was getting a shot because he was three-time player."
Striebel talked with Boyle, his former Princeton teammate, extensively about the run up to the 2014 Federation of International (FIL) Lacrosse World Championships July 10-19 in Denver. Boyle, the day after he told LaxMagazine.com that he was retiring, told Striebel after the Boston Cannons-Rochester Rattlers regular-season finale that he thought Striebel should still try out.
"You don't get many chances to do this," Striebel said. "I can be retired my entire life from here on out. It's so awesome. There are so many great young players. I've been able to bridge a lot of lacrosse generations, and it's cool to be able to see another one."
Striebel mentioned his Rattlers teammate, David Lawson, who won a national title with Duke in May. And JoJo Marasco, who he's found a good connection through three games, one on Friday and two each on Saturday.
"We've got a good thing going so far," said Striebel, who had two goals and one assist through Saturday (Marasco had five goals and two assists). "I could go on and on. I could watch Mike Sawyer shoot all day. Eric Law was great. Where do want me to stop?"
So, sure, Striebel feels like the elder statesman, and he is. But no matter if he is one of the 46 players selected to continue in the Team USA fold this fall, winter and spring leading into the world championships next summer, he's content with the decision he made to try out.
"I feel physically that I've worked hard to stay in good shape," he said. "There's a good chance that I could get cut from this team, and I'm OK with that. I just want to come out here and work my butt off. It's always been my style. It's never been my style to not take a shot at something."
Better Late than Never
Speaking of Marasco, he was a late addition to the tryout pool on Thursday, along with short-stick defensive midfielder Kevin Drew. Marasco, a 2013 Tewaaraton Award finalist shined in the final game Saturday, notching two goals and two assists.
It was quite a set of circumstances for the former Orange No. 22. He's student-teaching in Syracuse and was moving in to his new place on Thursday and checked his phone late in the afternoon to see that he got the Team USA invite. He then drove four hours to his native Mt. Kisco, N.Y., that night and then drove down to Baltimore early Friday.
"It's great to finally be down here," Marasco said. "It's an honor to play with some of the best players in the country. To be playing with a guy like Striebel who I looked up to when I was a little kid, and tried to mimic his moves as a middie, now I'm on the same line talking to him and making passes to is pretty crazy."
It's better late than never for Marasco, who was a fifth-round pick of Major League Lacrosse's New York Lizards who had a career year as a Syracuse senior, setting the school record for assists by a midfielder.
"I put my name in and tried to play as well in my last season at Syracuse," he said. "It took me a while to get to that level at the pro level, but I finally felt comfortable at the end. It didn't work out at first, but I just stayed strong, worked out and got my shooting in and got the call."
A-Train Hoping to Stop in Denver
As Anthony Kelly left the field Saturday night, he said, "It's always been a dream of mine," meaning making Team USA.
The veteran, 33-year-old faceoff guy has dealt with several injuries this year. He's had a couple cortisone shots in his left elbow because of severe tendinitis, which crept into his forearm and wrist. He also has a lingering ankle injury that has bothered him since the 2012 MLL season. He still has scar tissue in the ankle that has pushed up into his calf, and has gotten therapy twice a week for it. But he's performed well through this weekend's tryouts, with a 63.64 win percentage (21 of 33).
"Just go out and grind and play well," Kelly said of what he's trying to do. "Heat comes into play here, and after multiple sessions and being the old guy at the X, all those things come into play. But I feel pretty good. I'm trying to show my wares in some other areas, setting some good picks, creating mismatches, outworking guys clearing the ball, and I'm a threat in transition."
The U.S. coaching staff switched up the rosters for the second half of Saturday, for no other reason, head coach Richie Meade said, than to change up the teams. That's what he told the teams before Saturday's evening session began.
"What we're doing is changing up the teams," Meade said. "There was no clandestine reason. We just figured they're playing together for two sessions. We wanted to put some different guys together to make sure from an offensive and defensive standpoint that everybody got a chance to play together."
Nevertheless, one of the matchups that unfolded in the second part of Saturday was Steele Stanwick vs. Tucker Durkin. After a five-assist morning session, Stanwick had just one helper in the evening, and that was when Durkin, the former Johns Hopkins defenseman who was in the running for MLL rookie of the year this season, was off the field.
"It went pretty well," Durkin said of the matchup. "Steele is one of the premier guys out here. I love to get a chance to get after guys like that and cover them."
Durkin also was happy to play alongside veteran defenseman Mitch Belisle.
"I learned a lot from him, just in terms of communication," Durkin said. "He's a great leader out there. He's got little comments that I appreciate him helping me, telling me my responsibilities and kind of directing the defense. When you have a close defenseman that can do that, it's pretty special."
Stat Leaders through Saturday
|Rob Pannell put up 10 points
through Saturday, second most of the tryouts. Matt Danowski's 11
leads the pack.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
From US Lacrosse staff:
1. Garrett Thul, 8
2t. Kevin Leveille, 7
2t. Ben Hunt, 7
4. Matt Danowski, 6
5. Five tied with 5
1. Steele Stanwick, 7
2. Matt Danowski, 5
3. Rob Pannell, 5
4. Kevin Cunningham, 4
5. Five tied with 2
1. Matt Danowski, 11
2. Rob Pannell, 10
3t. Steele Stanwick, 8
3t. Kevin Leveille, 8
3t. Garrett Thul, 8
1t. Mike Poppleton, 9
1t. Chris Eck, 9
1t. Anthony Kelly, 9
4. Greg Gurenlian, 8
5. Four tied with 7
Faceoff win percentage
1t. Anthony Kelly, 63.64 (21 of 33)
1t. Matt Dolente, 63.64 (7 of 11)
1t. Chris Eck, 63.34 (7 of 11)
4. Dillon Roy, 60.00 (2 of 3)
5. Mike Poppleton, 50.00 (17 for 34)
6. Greg Gurenlian, 47.06 (16 of 34)
7. Adam Rand, 42.86 (12 of 28)
8. Brendan Fowler, 37.93 (11 of 29)
9. Kevin Massa, 32.26 (10 of 31)
1. John Galloway, 68.97
2. Drew Adams, 61.29
3. Jordan Burke, 58.06
4. Adam Ghitelman, 57.58
5. Kip Turner, 56.00
6. Brett Queener, 54.55
7. Jesse Schwartzman, 38.71
8. Austin Kaut, 34.48
... from Team USA head coach Richie Meade: "Our job isn't to be fair. Our job is put together the best team the United States can put on the field."
Meade said a player's body of work, not just performance in this weekend's tryout, will be considered when decisions are made to trim the tryout pool from its current 90-plus form to 46 after this weekend. That could apply to guys like Paul Rabil and Brendan Mundorf, who are at tryouts but not playing due to injury, or Ned Crotty, who couldn't make it to tryouts because he has pneumonia.
"Everybody that can be here physically is here. There are a couple guys that couldn't be here because of illness. We have to consider them based on their body of work," Meade said. "Other guys are going to be considered on their body of work, plus what happens here. It would be foolish to say it's just all about this."
Meade also acknowledges that players may be tired after a day's worth of scrimmages which followed more of the same on Friday night. The staff will cut down the length of scrimmage sessions on Sunday, although Meade also said it's good preparation for what everyone here is gunning for: next summer's world championships in Denver.
"We're going to be playing in a tournament over a 10-day period, and guys are going to be tired," he said. "We have to see what happens when you're tired."
Check back to LaxMagazine.com for more coverage from Team USA tryouts, including video interviews, photo galleries and updates on sessions throughout hte weekend.