September 12, 2012

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U.S. Women Prepare for Rematch with Australia

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter


Tatum Coffey (left) and Allyson Carey are among U.S. players vying to replace Acacia Walker and Kristen Kjellman as Team USA's primary draw specialists.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

BALTIMORE — The U.S. women's national team on Sunday finished its first training weekend since the 36-player roster for the 2012-14 competition cycle was announced in July. The sessions at UMBC represented Team USA's last chance to practice together before Stars & Stripes, a US Lacrosse event in which the Americans will face international rival Australia for the first time since the 2009 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Cup final, an 8-7 U.S. victory.

Stars & Stripes will take place in Palo Alto, Calif., at Stanford University and nearby Burlingame High. Team USA assistant coach Amy Bokker is the head coach for the Cardinal, while midfielder Lauren Schwarzmann is her assistant. Stanford and Cal also will participate in the round robin-style exhibition series.

"We're really excited about bringing the caliber of players and talent and teams out to the university," Schwarzmann said, "and we're really excited to grow the sport in California."

The training weekend brought two additions to the Team USA roster, attackers Danielle Spencer and Caroline Tarzian.

Tarzian, a rising sophomore at Georgetown, made her Team USA debut.

"It's a huge honor to be in the room with that caliber of player," Tarzian said.

Tarzian had the benefit of a few familiar faces — playing alongside Hoyas teammates Molly Ford and Kelly Barnes and for Team USA head coach Ricky Fried, their coach at Georgetown.

"He's really loud, but he's also really motivational. Everything he says is really constructive and really helpful," Tarzian said.

Spencer had surgery in May to repair a torn labrum in her left hip.

"I just got cleared to start running, but I'm not 100 percent. My goal is to be ready for Stars & Stripes," Spencer said. "It was really hard the last couple of event weekends. I was the mascot on the sidelines, the water girl. And now I can actually be involved in the drills. It's good to get back in the mix."

Spencer participated in some drills but no full-field scrimmages. Attacker Danielle Etrasco (Boston University) also was limited by a knee injury. Goalie Megan Huether, who sustained a concussion in July before the North American Challenge Cup, was cleared to play for the training weekend at UMBC.

Since sweeping Canada and the Haudenosaunee at the North American Cup in July, three Team USA players have taken coaching positions as assistants  at their respective alma maters. Spencer left Stanford to return to Northwestern. Midfielder Caitlyn McFadden left Florida to return to Maryland. Attacker Katie Rowan, the all-time points leader for Syracuse, left Albany to become an assistant under Gary Gait. (Rowan's position with the Orange was open thanks to an offseason move by another U.S. teammate — attacker Katrina Dowd left Syracuse after one season to become the offensive coordinator at North Carolina.

"We're a family, on and off the field, and I'm really excited to be a part of that again," McFadden of said of her return to Maryland.

With Acacia Walker's retirement from the U.S. team after the North American Challenge Cup, neither of Team USA's primary draw specialists from the 2009 FIL World Cup team are in the fold for 2013. (Kristen Kjellman retired in 2011.) Spencer, Karri Ellen Johnson and Allyson Carey all excelled in the center circle in college. Tatum Coffey, a sophomore midfielder at Penn State and Team USA's youngest player, led the Nittany Lions in draw controls in 2012.

"Obviously, possessions really important," Fried said. "We're going to throw a lot of different looks out there. We have a lot of confidence in the people not only inside the circle, but outside the circle."


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