September 4, 2013

Five Team USA Newbies that Boosted Stock at Tryouts

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

Tewaaraton Award finalist and New York Lizards rookie JoJo Marasco brought a welcome energy and production out of the midfield during tryouts, Team USA head coach Richie Meade said.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Ninety-four players tried out for the 2014 U.S. men's national team and the Team USA coaching staff made cuts to 52 players after three days of evaluation over the weekend at Goucher College in Baltimore.

The event represented a clean slate for many players. As head coach Richie Meade, formerly the head man at Navy and now at first-year program Furman, told LaxMagazine.com ahead of tryouts, "When you go to field school, your reputation starts the minute your boots hit the sand. Their reputation is going to start when they hit the field."

Here are five players that helped boost their stocks with impressive showings, each in their first U.S. men's national team tryout. Meade comments on each.

Marcus Holman, Attack, Ohio Machine (North Carolina)

Holman was the unquestioned leader of this year's North Carolina squad that reached the NCAA quarterfinals, and he was a Tewaaraton Award finalist. He can do a little bit of everything, and the all-important little things, the type of player that doesn't take a second off and provided intangible leadership qualities for the Tar Heels.

Then he showed up at Team USA tryouts. He finished with six goals and two assists in three games. Holman's eight points tied JoJo Marasco and Steele Stanwick for sixth most by any player on the weekend.

"Holman just brings so much energy when he plays that we felt we had to keep watching him," Meade said. "He played the way he's played for four years at North Carolina. He's a dangerous guy. He can shoot it pretty good. He can handle it OK. He moves great off the ball. He creates a lot of plays."

Ryan Young, Attack, Charlotte Hounds (Maryland)

Young, the former Maryland attackman, has been overlooked to a certain extent, but looking at his history it's hard to say he hasn't made those around him better. He helped lead the Terps to the NCAA title game during an emotional senior season in 2011 in which he lost his mother to pancreatic cancer, played well in limited action with MLL's Lizards his first two professional seasons and emerged as a bonafide pro point-behind attackman this year with the Hounds, the league's runner-up.

Young had only two points in tryouts this weekend, but impressed both teammates and coaches.

"Young showed us enough to feel like we wanted to move him forward," Meade said.

He also played this entire MLL season alongside Matt Danowski, who had an MVP-type year with the Hounds and figures to play a prominent role with Team USA through fall evaluations.

JoJo Marasco, Midfield, New York Lizards (Syracuse)

Marasco was a late addition to the tryout pool just days before tryouts began. A Tewaaraton Award finalist like Holman, Marasco got the call last Thursday and began his drive from central New York that night, made a stop in his hometown in Westchester County (N.Y.) and drove the rest of the way to Baltimore on Friday.

He played like he belonged, flourishing on a midfield line with three-time Team USA member Matt Striebel. Marasco finished with five goals and three assists over the weekend, building off a strong finish to his rookie summer with the New York Lizards (eight points in last two games after registering one point in his first six).

"[Marasco] and Holman played with so much energy and so much joy, it was really inspiring to watch them play. Beyond all that, they were very effective."

— Team USA coach Richie Meade

"We had felt like he had a great body of work as a collegiate player, but he had struggled early in the MLL," Meade said. "[But] him and Holman played with so much energy and so much joy, it was really inspiring to watch them play. Beyond all that, they were very effective."

Marasco said he had to adjust to the MLL this year.

"Everyone is so talented, that there are not a lot of slides. In the college game, everyone is sliding right away. It took me a while to learn that, and then I figured it out. And my coaches with the Lizards and a lot of the guys on my team just told me to keep shooting, just build your confidence up. I started shooting the ball more. I got more comfortable."

Brendan Buckley, Defense, Boston Cannons (Army)

Buckley was the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, but is probably the most unknown nationally of the 14 players on the defensive end, including long-stick midfielders, who made it through cuts.

"People will be asking about Brendan Buckley," Meade said. "He's a guy that is non-descript. He's invisible out there and makes no mistakes. He's very thorough. ... He's in the right place at the right time, he handles the ball, he talks well. He's a guy that you have to be told, 'Look at No. 44 and watch him play.'

"When you watch him play, you realize he does a lot of very good things that don't get noticed," Meade continued. "He does very, very few things on the negative side. He's not the guy going over your head. He's not the guy running down the field shooting the ball in the goal, but he's getting the tough ground ball, he's talking to the guy that's recovering, he's very consistent, he's tough as nails and he's a very good leader. He displayed a lot of intangible talents. He's kind of in that [Joe] Fletcher category. When we're looking at building a defense, those are guys we're interested in working with to see how far they can go."

Buckley joins fellow recent Army graduate Garrett Thul on the 52-man Team USA training roster. They will still be responsible for their military duties, but will train with Team USA through the fall.

Joe Fletcher, Defense (Loyola)

Fletcher is the only current collegian of the seven at tryouts to survive cuts.

He was a first-team All-American and ECAC Defensive Player of the Year last season as a junior and in Loyola's 2012 national championship season, Fletcher was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team as a sophomore. He showed why he has those credentials.

"He did everything right," Meade said. "If you just watched him, he's not flashy at all, but he's always in the right place. He made very few mistakes. He made a couple of really big defensive plays off the ball and in transition. One time in transition, he stopped the ball and scraped to the guy who caught the ball and took the entire break away. My comment when he did that to [Team USA assistant] coach [Dave] Pietramala is that he's really well coached. It was like a data point early in the tryout and he continued to perform well to the point where we wanted to keep seeing him and work with him, and see at what level we would have to get him to.

"We felt like we have enough cover guys, we have enough very physical guys that can play. Joe earned his spot to move forward based on intangible things. I don't mean this in a bad way," Meade said of the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Fletcher, "he wasn't the most pretty guy to look at, but he got the job done."

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