By Thomas Livingston | 6/9/14 12:00 PM
The Major League Lacrosse All-Star Game is fast approaching, and with it, predictions for who will make the cut are proliferating. Team MLL will be announced Tuesday, June 10, and until then, we will preview who we believe to be worthy of donning an All-Star Jersey.
Current MLL players will fill both of the rosters when Team USA faces the MLL All-Stars on June 26th at Harvard Stadium in the annual MLL All-Star Game. However, there will be only one MLL team that will not be represented with a player on Team USA: the Charlotte Hounds. Seven Hounds players were invited to the Team USA Tryout Camp held last August at Goucher College, an event with 94 of the top Professional and Collegiate players competing to represent the United States at the FILA World Lacrosse Championships July 10-19, 2014. Four Hounds players advanced through the first round of tryouts and were named to the 52-player roster that competed in fall and winter events to vie for the final 23 roster spots. But all four Hounds: Matt Danowski, Ryan Young, Kevin Drew, and Brett Schmidt did not earn spots on the final roster. If selected to the MLL All-Star team, these four Hounds along with several other teammates will have the opportunity to prove that Team USA Head Coach Richie Meade mistakenly left them off the roster.
Attackmen Matt Danowski and Ryan Young are prolific scorers and finished the 2013 MLL Season as top fifteen players with 49 and 40 points, respectively. Danowski possesses one of the hardest shots in the MLL and is a constant threat with time and space from outside the arch. He finished the 2013 campaign as the fourth leading goal scorer with 33 goals. Both Danowski and Young are each currently averaging nearly 2 points a game this season for the Hounds as they lead the offensive core. Danowski was named MLL All-Star his first four seasons; however, he was not selected in either of the past two seasons. Young played in his first All-Star game in 2013, during his breakout season with the Hounds. Danowski and Young are possible selections for the 2014 edition of the MLL All-Stars.
Short Stick Defensive Midfield is not a glorified position and rarely receives attention from fans or selections to All-Star games, however if you ask any MLL Head Coach they will agree that SSDM’s are critical players in the defensive and transitional game plans and success. Kevin Drew has filled this role and he’s been a defensive pillar for the Hounds, but due to the nature of his position, Drew will unlikely represent the MLL All-Stars.
Defender Brett Schmidt received his first MLL All-Star nod in the 2013 season. Schmidt led the Hounds defense collecting 40 groundballs in 2013 and has picked up 12 balls through the first six games this season. Schmidt recently reminded opposing teams that despite playing with a long pole, he should not be ignored carrying the ball in the offensive zone when he scored his second career 2-point goal against the Denver Outlaws in Week 5. Schmidt was surprisingly left off the Team USA roster and will challenge the USA attack if he makes his second straight All-Star appearance.
Attackman Mike Sawyer is also a potential selection for the MLL All-Star Roster. Sawyer, in his sophomore season with Hounds, currently leads the team in scoring with eight goals through six games. As a rookie in 2013, Sawyer earned a spot on the All-Star roster and made history during the Skills Competition. The former Loyola Greyhound set an MLL fastest shot record at 114mph. Sawyer’s legend as a power shooter continued last fall in a Loyola Alumni Game when he broke the hard plastic shell of a Goalie’s helmet. Sawyer is one of the most electrifying young athletes in the MLL is a must-watch player as he seeks to defend his title in the Skills Competition and suit up against Team USA.
The Hounds offense the past two seasons starts in the defensive end with Ryan Flanagan securing possession of the ball. Flanagan, a two-time All-Star at defense, is a force to be reckoned with when the ball is on the ground and he leads the team with 20 pick-ups through Week 5. The North Carolina product is an anchor of the defense and uses his 6’ 3”, 215 lbs. frame to shut down the opposing attack with solid body position and footwork. Flanagan, another Team USA snub, should be selected to make his third straight All-Star appearance.
Team MLL will faceoff against Team USA June 26th at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, Mass. showcasing some of the world’s best lacrosse in action and in a skills competition. If you don’t have your tickets for the event yet, be sure to check out the MajorLeagueLacrosse.com All-Star pagefor information regarding the day.