Tough road to challenge Team USA

June 13, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

Tony Seaman called it. He said Team USA could lose any or even all of its first four games.

Sure enough, in Saturday night's finale of the Hall of Fame Lacrosse Classic at Johns Hopkins, Team USA lost in overtime to the club all-stars. This was Team USA's first exhibition leading up to the World Games in Manchester, England, July 20-30.

Seaman, the Johns Hopkins coach who heads Team USA's staff, hadn't drilled or even met with the squad since a one-day tournament last fall at Princeton. Team USA went 5-0 that day.

This weekend, Team USA will play in Boston and Yorktown, N.Y., then go to Colorado for a series of exhibitions before gathering July 10 for a full week of practice and games at the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.

"That's when we'll put our lines together and the defensive and man-up and man-down units," Seaman said. "By then, everybody will know each other."

Team USA's 11-game schedule is its most ambitious ever in preparation for the quadrennial World Games. The Americans won in 1990, easily defeating Canada, Australia and England. They haven't lost since 1978.

"The U.S. was favored that year, beat England by a goal and Canada by about 20," said Steve Stenersen, executive director of the Lacrosse Foundation. "Canada came back [in the round robin] to beat us in overtime for the championship."

England appears to have its strongest team ever. During its U.S. tour this spring, it lost by one goal to perennial club power Mount Washington. Canada has the Gait twins, Paul and Gary, acknowledged as the best offensive players in the game.

"We're favored again," Stenersen said, "but this figures to be the most competitive World Games in a while."

Stenersen declared the Hall of Fame Lacrosse Classic a success even though attendance for the three-day event was only 5,445.

"It's not designed as a moneymaker," Stenersen said. "The big thing is that lacrosse is getting exposure because the boys and girls high school all-star games are being nationally televised."

The girls game will be shown at 11 a.m. July 10 by HTS and the boys at 2:30 p.m. July 10 and 8 a.m. July 17 by ESPN2.

"We had kids from 28 states in the all-star games," Stenersen said. "When people see kids from California, Colorado and Texas score goals, they'll realize the game is growing."

The Classic also serves as a stage for what some players is their lacrosse career highlight. But the event is becoming unwieldy, with 11 games for high schoolers through old-timers, and dozens of games for peewees.

"It has almost grown into a monster," Stenersen said. "We've got to drop something, but deciding what will be ticklish. Everybody wants to be included."

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