U.S. Men Dominate Denver in Danowski's Debut
by Brian Logue | Twitter
* - Box Score
BRADENTON, Fla. – It’s hard to imagine John Danowski’s debut as the head coach of the U.S. men’s national team program going any better. Team USA scored the first five goals of the game, led 14-1 at the half and downed defending NCAA champion Denver 22-6 in the Team USA Spring Premiere before a crowd of 1,250 at IMG Academy.
Denver, was playing without 11 players due to injuries, illness and academic issues, but missed none more than faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste. Baptiste was a first team All-American in leading the Pioneers to the NCAA title last year and his team struggled without him. The U.S. tandem of Brendan Fowler and Greg Gurenlian combined to win 24-of-30 draws, including all 10 in the second quarter when the U.S. dominated possession and outscored Denver 9-0.
“There are a lot of positives to take away when you look at a team like that, like the one we just played," Denver head coach Bill Tierney said. "They just do everything soundly. That's what we're trying to teach our guys, that that's what it is all about. It's not about the fancy stuff. Yeah they had a couple of nice behind the back shots and passes, but it's not about that, it's about sticking to the basics, and doing those as fast and as hard as you can. It's about being confident in your teammates. We learned a lot today, and I thought in the second half we were a lot better. It's a good experience for us, and I'd do it over again if they asked us to."
The U.S. team featured nine players that competed in the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship in Denver, but this group had held just one abbreviated indoor practice on a small field before the game. It didn’t show as the team moved the ball around crisply throughout the game. Twelve different players scored goals for Team USA and 15 of the 22 goals were assisted.
“I don’t know how many dodges we had for goals, everything was one-two-three passes and a goal,” said Ned Crotty, a veteran of the last two U.S. teams from world championship play, and a former player of Danowski’s at Duke. “Everybody just wanted the team to win. I think that’s something that always happens when you wear the USA jersey, but with this staff and the culture they’ve set in a short time, I think it helped that much more. Coach Dino always celebrates the second assist. It doesn’t show up on the scoreboard and nobody in the stands knows you did anything, but the coaching staff and the guys on the sideline, we’re going to that guy because we understand he’s the one that set up the play.”
Danowski, who has led Duke to three national championships, said the experience of coaching Team USA for the first time was surreal.
“The way these guys handle themselves, you want to be around them,” said Danowski in the locker room after the game. “It was really cool. The people in the room made this experience incredible.”
Danowski’s son, Matt, led all scorers with seven points on four goals and three assists, including a highlight-worthy diving goal. Jordan Wolf added four goals, Marcus Holman had three and veteran star Casey Powell, who first played for a U.S. world championship team in 1998, had two goals and three assists. Nate Marano led Denver with two goals.
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