Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/22/14
Greg Gurenlian, the former Springfield-Delco and Penn State face-off great who was a leading candidate to make the U.S. men’s national team, has pulled himself off the training team due to a lingering shoulder injury.
The news came as the US prepares for this weekend’s Champion Challenge and Sunday’s Blue-White scrimmage — the final evaluation event before the Feb. 5 announcement of cutdowns to a 30-man pool for the 2014 FIL World Championships in Denver. Also sitting out the event will be attackman Brendan Mundorf, a member of the Philadelphia Wings who has been fighting injuries for more than a year.
Gurenlian, who is co-founder of the popular Faceoff Academy and a key member of the New York Lizards, said he will be attending the weekend event. But he said in an e-mail statement to the media that his continuing problems with a labrum (shoulder) tear forced him to make the tough decision.
“Last summer I played with a torn labrum and a floating piece of bone in my right shoulder,” said Gurenlian, a 6-year Major League Lacrosse veteran who made the All-Star Game and was named All-MLL last year. “I planned on having surgery in September, but chose to try out for team USA because it’s always been my dream. So I took a chance.
“It’s bothered me throughout the training process and after working with my college and High School FOA guys it has gotten worse. After speaking to my family and wife I decided that I’m too close to the MLL season for surgery and it’s best for everyone if I swallow my pride and pull out.
“Playing one game per week with a pain shot is something I can probably fight through for most of the season but playing 6 games in 10 days is literally inconceivable. I refuse to be remembered as the guy who broke down at the worst time and cost us a gold medal; I’d never be able to live with myself.”
Gurenlian’s withdrawal leads Team USA with just three faceoff specialists remaining from the four that originally made the 52-man training roster after tryouts this summer: Anthony Kelly and Chris Eck and Mike Poppleton (Philadelphia Wings reserve and recent Johns Hopkins grad). Whoever is selected will be tasked with battling Canada’s specialist Geoff Snider, who was a dominant force in its 2006 FIL World Championships gold medal win and battled Alex Smith in 2010.
“I’m coming to Orlando this weekend because it’s important to me that I get the chance to shake the hands of the players and coaches who I’ve been honored enough to join in this process and thank them,” said Gurenlian. “We’ll be in great hands at the X. Chris, Anthony and Mike are world class and they can all get the job done. This is one of the hardest decisions Ii’ve ever made but I’m at peace because I know it’s the right one.”
Mundorf, an All-World selection in 2010, is still recovering from from surgery on his abdominals and a knee scope following the MLL season.