September 8, 2012

Boyle, Stanwick Share Career Paths, Mutual Respect

Former Virginia attackman Steele Stanwick makes his debut with the U.S. men's national team Saturday night against Canada.
© Matt Riley

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Ryan Boyle and Steele Stanwick have a lot in common. Even more than you probably think.

They are of course recognized as prototypical point-behind attackmen. Boyle is Major League Lacrosse's all-time assists leader and Stanwick, the 2011 Tewaaraton Award winner from Virginia, is similarly known for uncanny passing ability. They were both raised in Baltimore; Boyle one of six children and Stanwick one of eight. They both played high school ball in the powerful MIAA conference; Boyle at Gilman (Md.) and Stanwick at Loyola Blakefield (Md.). But before that they even attended the same Catholic grade school, and some of their siblings have known each other for years. Each won one NCAA championship during his college career.

It shouldn't come as much surprise they share a tremendous mutual respect. Each has told the other as much, in conversations since Stanwick graduated from Virginia in the spring. Separated by eight years, the pair now finds themselves as U.S. teammates for Saturday night's "Duel in Denver" against Canada.

Boyle, 30, is the elder statesmen and Stanwick, a few days shy of his 23rd birthday, is the decorated collegian in a similar position Boyle was after leaving behind an All-American career at Princeton in 2004.

"He's a guy I always looked up to and modeled my game after so it's exciting to be out here with him," Stanwick said after practice Friday night. "We've actually been getting together a couple times over the summer, just talking, picking brains. I've been literally getting advice about everything: career stuff, lacrosse stuff, socially. It's been really nice."

"I've been talking to him lately just about watching him come up," Boyle said. "How much I appreciated his approach to the game, his style, his skill and his intellect. He said some flattering things about watching me growing up, which was very humbling and validated some things I did over the course of my career."

Stanwick took time to recover from a hernia strain – heck, Boyle had surgery to remove a hernia as a high school junior – before joining the MLL's Ohio Machine this summer, finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 11 goals and 17 assists in only nine games. Stanwick doesn't have a full-time job right now but said he's exploring options with several lacrosse companies.

Boyle, who in August completed his eighth professional season with the Boston Cannons and is CEO of lacrosse education company Trilogy, has advised Stanwick to "do what he wants."

"He's at a good spot in his life," Boyle said. "He's got opportunities and I just let him know if he wanted a sounding board, I'd be more than happy to give him honest advice. Being in a similar position eight years ago, I wanted to let him know I'd do anything I could do to help him. He can count on me to be a trusted source."

LaxMagazine.com Coverage

* Five Things to Watch from USA
* Star-Studded USA Staff Prepared
* Canada Continues to Remember Sanderson
* Harrison Back
| Zink Enters Spotlight
* USA Stacks Roster | Canada Unveils Lineup
* Eck Out, Dolente In for USA | Walters Added

Boyle and USA midfielder Matt Striebel are the only players on Team USA's "Duel" roster to have been members of the last three U.S. men's national teams (2002, '06 and '10). Boyle made his first USA team during tryouts after his freshman year at Princeton and played in the World Championships after his sophomore season. So that's one difference within this duo. Boyle was 20 when making his national team debut. Stanwick is two years older, but still the youngest on Team USA's roster.

If, down the road, a symbolic torch is to be passed from one prolific U.S. attackman to another, it appears the transition will be smooth.

"He's a guy I look up to and respect," Stanwick said of Boyle. "He's wise beyond his years. It's been just a little bit of everything getting to know him a little bit. I'm really excited about it. Hopefully I'll learn some things. I'm excited to see how we play together."

Practice, Practice

Team USA practiced for about 70 minutes on Friday night. The first 15 were dedicated to installing offense, led by Penn State coach Jeff Tambroni, and defense, led by Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala. As each barked out instructions, it was as if lacrosse stepped into a time machine to 1997-2000, when Tambroni and Pietramala shared the practice field when Pietramala was head coach at Cornell and Tambroni was his assistant.

Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese warmed up goalies Drew Adams and Jesse Schwartzman and worked with faceoff guys Matt Dolente and Greg Gurenlian. Cassese said it was the first time he had a stick in his hands since winning gold with the 2010 national team as a player.

The team later went through calisthenics, led by head coach Richie Meade, and went through six-on-six drills before Meade, the former Navy coach now at Furman, called everyone over to the sideline to practice lining up for Saturday night's National Anthem, clearing demonstrating his military academy background.

He instructed the players to line up along the sideline in order from shortest to tallest while paying attention to detail: right foot inside the sideline but not touching it, both gloves on, stick in right hand facing down and helmet in the left hand.

"Do not move until the entire song is done," Meade said. "This is National Anthem formation. We shouldn't have to go over it again. Everybody got it? This is, like, our song."

Check back to LaxMagazine.com throughout the weekend for coverage from the "Duel in Denver," including a live blog at 9 p.m. ET Saturday.


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