USA in retiring mood after 6th World title

August 04, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

Dave Pietramala strode off the field after the World Lacrosse Championship final and handed his stick to one young fan, a glove to another and his helmet to a third.

That, Pietramala said, signaled the end of his playing career. Henceforth, coaching -- at the moment as a Loyola College assistant -- would command his sole lacrosse attention.

Pietramala, the dominant defenseman in college lacrosse when at Johns Hopkins from 1986 to 1989, helped Team USA repeat as champion in the quadrennial event that ended Saturday in Manchester, England.

"These games were like a turning point for the U.S.," coach Tony Seaman said. "Quite a few other guys said they're retiring, too, including John Tucker, John DeTommaso and Kevin Cook."

The next worlds will be held in 1998 at Johns Hopkins. By then, Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic and perhaps a fourth country might join England, Australia, Japan, Canada, the Iroquois Nationals and the United States in the field.

In winning its sixth title, having lost only in 1978, Team USA swept through the tournament with a 7-0 record and outscored opponents, 150-44. Mark Millon scored 26 goals and was acclaimed Best and Fairest Player in the World, which is to say, MVP.

"Some people asked why we ran up the score," Seaman said. "When you have only 23 players and the 23rd is a three-time All-American, I'm not sure how you keep the score down. We tried. In the second quarter against Japan, we said nobody shoot unless it's off a pass, no dodging. In the third quarter, only shoot if it's on a back-door play."

The Americans won, 33-2.

They expected their stiffest competition would be Canada, featuring Gary and Paul Gait. But the Canadians, after losing to Team USA, 16-10, in the preliminaries, were upset in the semifinals by Australia and never got another shot at the Americans.

"The Gaits were the core and Canada would have been average without them," Seaman said. "We tried to handle them by using four long poles instead of two or three. When the Gaits were on the field, Pietramala and [Steve] Mitchell were always with them. When they rested, Pietramala and Mitchell rested and [Brian] Voelker and [Joe] Breschi went in as long sticks."

Despite those efforts, Paul Gait scored five goals and Gary two, although the outcome was never in doubt.

This edition of Team USA was probably the most well-prepared ever assembled. The Americans, together for six weeks, won 11 of 12 pre-tournament exhibitions from Denver to Boston, conducting clinics and signing autographs everywhere they went.

"We were real ambassadors of the sport," Seaman said.

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