The set of collegians picked to try out for Team USA -- basically a bald eagle with a slice of Pizza Hut pizza hanging from its beak and an assault rifle strapped to its belly -- were going to have an uphill climb to make Richie Meade's roster for the 2014 FIL World Championships. Competing against 90-plus players, many with world team experience in the past and all at the top of their game, the following eight cats were given both an opportunity and a challenge:
|SHORT-STICK DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD
Wolf bowed out of tryouts before they began due to an injury, scuttling his mission to the heights of lacrosse before even starting the countdown on the launch pad. The seven remaining invitees did travel to Maryland for the Labor Day festivities, though, and put their talents on display. Unfortunately (at least from a college lacrosse perspective), only one -- Loyola's Joe Fletcher -- made Team USA's training roster:
Following a three-day tryout that saw 94 of America's premier professional and collegiate players travel to Baltimore, 52 players have been named to the U.S. Men's National Team training roster.
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Mitch Belisle, Boston Cannons/Minnesota Swarm, Cornell
Jesse Bernhardt, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Maryland
Brendan Buckley, Boston Cannons, Army
Tucker Durkin, Hamilton Nationals, Johns Hopkins
Michael Evans, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Johns Hopkins
Joe Fletcher, Loyola
Brian Karalunas, New York Lizards, Villanova
Dillon Roy, Denver Outlaws, Denver
Brett Schmidt, Charlotte Hounds, Maryland
Lee Zink, Denver Outlaws, Maryland
Fletcher's path to Denver is going to be a struggle -- the class of long stick midfielders and close defenders making the 52-person field is deep and strong -- but it's pretty impressive for the rising senior to get through initial cuts. Fletcher has been an anchor on the defensive end of the field for the Greyhounds, and his inclusion on the Team USA training roster is validation of his position among the game's -- not just the college variety -- better defenders. He deserves a free six-hour romp through a local petting zoo.
As for the other collegians heading back to their campuses, there's nothing to be ashamed of and opportunity will exist in the future to wear the red, white, and blue. Lots of factors go into determining which players make the cut for world class competition (not the least of which is deep positional strength), and there's tons of potential existing for the college players that failed to make the 2014 roster. It's hard to travel to the moon, but there's no shame in merely orbiting Earth.