In their final test before the World Championship roster is announced, many MLL players stated their case for the U.S. Men’s National Team on Sunday afternoon in US Lacrosse’s Champion Challenge. Team USA White defeated Team USA Blue 12-5, thanks in large part to the Florida Launch’s Garrett Thul, who was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.
Thul had two goals on outside shots and intimidated with his 6-foot-3, 231 pound frame, playing alongside New York Lizards attackman Rob Pannell. Pannell is basically a lock to make the team, while Ohio’s Marcus Holman and Steele Stanwick made strong arguments as well with multi-point games.
Other players who made key contributions during the game included the Lizards Ned Crotty, who scored two goals, one from his attack position and another from the midfield. Cannons star Paul Rabil looked solid in his first action since getting surgery this fall, scoring once, while Chesapeake’s Drew Westervelt and New York’s JoJo Marasco found the back of the net as well.
On the defensive side of things, short-stick defensive midfielder and Chesapeake Bayhawk Matt Abbott scored a goal and played stellar in transition. The Lizards Brian Karalunas notched a goal while playing nice D, while Chesapeake’s Michael Evans shut down Team Blue offensively.
In net, all four goalies are considered pretty much dead even at this point, with Rochester’s John Galloway having the most impressive weekend. Galloway allowed just one goal in 40 minutes on Sunday, playing a large role in Team White’s win.
Speaking of goalies, on the women’s side, Lizards goalie Devon Wills had a strong showing in net for Team USA, allowing just five goals in 39 minutes of play. Team USA defeated North Carolina, 16-15.
The US also learned this week they would be without Lizards faceoff man Greg Gurenlian, who withdrew from final Team USA consideration this week. That means two of Chris Eck, Anthony Kelly and Mike Poppleton will make the final roster. The 30-man roster will be announced on February 5.
The United States will play in the MLL All-Star Game in Boston on June 26, before traveling to Denver for the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships from July 10 to 19.