By Scott Johnston
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/19/10
Team USA coach Mike Pressler called it his team’s “best performance to date.”
His midfielder and current Lehigh University men’s lacrosse coach Kevin Cassese described the evening “beyond my wildest expectations.”
And a bunch of all-stars from the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association (PLA) had their chance to shine on the big stage in front of family and friends and against the best players in the world.
It was quite a special night of lacrosse Friday evening at the Ulrich Sports Complex on the campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem.
In its second-to-last exhibition game before heading to Bryant University in Rhode Island to begin an intense five-day training camp in preparation for the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship, Team USA defeated the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association All-Stars, 15-8, before a standing room only crowd of more than 1,000.
“I thought the body of work tonight was our best performance to date,” said Pressler. “We started looking like a team. I thought we shared the ball well on the offensive end and we were much more coordinated defensively.
“Alex Smith (Chesapeake Bayhawks/Delaware ’07) dominated the face-off X and I thought both of our goalies Adam Fullerton (Denver Outlaws/Army ’08) and Brian Dougherty (Episcopal Academy/GMH Lacrosse Club/Maryland ’96) played well. Overall it was a good night for us.”
Heading into the game, Pressler, who was an assistant on the 2002 U.S. team that won gold in Perth, Australia, said he wasn’t too concerned about the close losses in his team’s two previous games – a one-goal loss to eventual NCAA champion Duke back in April and earlier this month by a goal to the Major League Lacrosse All-Stars.
He certainly didn’t have to worry about that on this night.
Midfielder Ned Crotty (Machine/Duke ’10) and attackman Brendan Mundorf (Denver Outlaws/UMBC ’06) each scored three goals and added an assist to lead a balanced scoring attack as Team USA scored three goals in the first eight minutes of the game and then outscored its Philly counterparts 4-1 in the second period to take a commanding 7-2 lead at the break.
Crotty, the 2010 Tewaaraton Trophy winner symbolizing the nation’s top men’s lacrosse player, had a pair of first period goals just two minutes apart while teammate Paul Rabil (Boston Cannons/Johns Hopkins ’08) scored the first of his two goals of the night (plus two assists) just 42 seconds into the contest, blistering a shot past Philly netminder Alex Hewit (Princeton/NYAC, Delbarton School (NJ).
Rabil, a 2008 Tewaaraton award finalist, added his second goal of the game in the second period to go along with single tallies from midfielder Max Seibald (Denver Outlaws/Cornell ’09), Mundorf and midfielder Matt Striebel (Machine/Princeton ’01) who found the back of the net with just :05 remaining before the half.
PLA’s two first half goals came courtesy of attackman Garrett Thul (Army/Hunterdon Central HS, NJ) and midfielder Josh Amidon (Syracuse/LaFayette HS, NY). Thul, who scored 41 goals to go along with nine assists in leading Army to an upset win over Syracuse in the NCAA quarterfinal round, had a team-high three goals to lead Haverford School coach John Nostrant’s PLA squad.
“Our team is made up of some of the best kids in the area and we’re playing against some of the best guys in the world so I knew the caliber of lacrosse was going to be great coming out here tonight and it was going to be a pretty high scoring game,” said Thul. “I was pretty excited before the game and I knew the a lot of they guys were too. It was an awesome experience.”
Cassese, who helped the USA to the gold medal in the 2002 world championships and later starred for the MLL champion Philadelphia Barrage, echoed those same sentiments.
“Months ago when we got together and thought about what this night could be I never in my wildest imagination did I think it could be something as great as it was tonight,” he said. “The people in the Lehigh Valley came out in full force. I knew the sport of lacrosse in this area was exploding but I didn’t know it was exploding this much.”
Pressler, whose in his third season at Bryant, said afterwards he was impressed with the PLA, the host institution and the support of both the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia lacrosse fans.
“Kevin was in charge in putting this together along with my good friend Chris Hupfeldt (General Manager of the PLA team) and the Philly crowd and I knew that chapter was going to put on a sensational show,” said Pressler.
“To see a 1,000 people in the stands here and all all the local support for not only the Philly all-stars but the Philly guys on Team USA, that was exciting stuff. I’m not surprised by a first-class event here at Lehigh.”