U.S. Turns to Vets, Newcomers for Heritage Cup


Rob Pannell, an all-world performer in field lacrosse, will make his box debut in the Heritage Cup on Saturday night.

Since the inaugural World Indoor Lacrosse Championship (WILC) was held in 2003, one country has reigned supreme — Canada. The Canadians have beaten the Iroquois Nationals in the championship game in each of the four world championships (2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015).

Meanwhile, the United States has won the bronze in each of the four world championships, but much like Canada has become a major factor in the field game after the U.S. dominated early (winning eight of the first nine world championships), the U.S. is hoping to make inroads in the box game.

The approach will be on display this Saturday night when the U.S. and Canada meet at the FirstOntario Centre in Canada in the renewal of the Heritage Cup. (TICKET INFORMATION)

US Lacrosse named Regy Thorpe as the head coach for the 2019 WILC in Langley, British Columbia, and this will be the first chance he gets to sit behind the bench as the U.S. coach. Perhaps just as important as the actual game, Thorpe will also get to train USA hopefuls for the 2019 team over the weekend.

Thorpe’s roster is a mixture of experienced box players, including seven players from the 2015 U.S. team that competed in the world championship, and accomplished field players new to the box game.

Among the latter group is Rob Pannell, an all-world attackman for the U.S. team at the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse Men’s World Championship and current member of the 2018 U.S. training team in the field game. Peter Milliman, the interim head coach at Pannell’s alma mater, Cornell, and an assistant coach with the U.S. men’s team, invited Pannell.

“It’s going to be a different scene for me, a different floor that I’ll be stepping on, but I’m just excited to be playing,” Pannell said. “Any chance to represent your country and play against Canada in the sport of lacrosse isn’t something that can be taken for granted.”

Playing Canada in your first box game is a pretty tall order, but Thorpe and his staff don’t have to look far for examples of field players finding success in the box game.

Toronto missed the National Lacrosse League playoffs in 2016 and made a move to go younger in 2017, playing six rookies regularly. Three of those six players were transitioning from the field game, including Tom Schreiber and Kieran McArdle, and helped the Rock reach the playoffs. Both will suit up for the U.S. in the Heritage Cup.

Schreiber, the Major League Lacrosse MVP the last two summers, led Toronto in scoring with 33 goals and a league rookie-record 61 assists to earn NLL Rookie of the Year honors. McArdle had 17 goals and 19 assists in 14 games.

One of the U.S. veterans, Joel White, followed a path not unlike Schreiber’s. Thorpe, an assistant women’s lacrosse coach at Syracuse, watched White play at Syracuse and invited him to play box with the Six Nations team he was coaching.

White has since flourished in the indoor game. He played on the U.S. team in 2015, and has played in the NLL since 2012. Last year, he helped Georgia win the league championship, scoring a goal with three seconds left in the championship-clinching victory that forced overtime in an eventual victory for the Swarm.

“I’m really excited about it,” White said of the Heritage Cup. “It’s a great opportunity for us to get together and play, and obviously play against the best players in the world. It’s obviously a tough matchup, but I’m excited to be a part of it and honored to put on the USA jersey as always.”

White is also excited about having Thorpe as the head coach and the continued involvement of respected indoor minds like 2015 head coach Tony Resch with the U.S. national team program.

“It’s such a big difference in the minds of players like myself,” White said. “It’s a great thing to have the leaders that care about how to build this thing. I just hope to continue to build it and start to become a little more competitive. Having US Lacrosse now be a part of it I think is a huge step in the right direction.”

The next step comes Saturday with the Heritage Cup.


  • Mike Manley has replaced Connor Fields on the U.S. team roster for the Heritage Cup. Manley, a member of the U.S. training team for the 2018 FIL Men’s World Championship, has played parts of four seasons in the National Lacrosse League. Fields, a senior at Albany who holds dual citizenship in Canada and the U.S., is currently in Canada’s player pool for the 2018 world championship. Due to FIL bylaws, playing for the U.S. in the Heritage Cup (an FIL-recognized event) would have made him ineligible to play for Canada next summer if he is selected for its final roster.

  • This is the fourth time the Heritage Cup has been held. The U.S. upset Canada 21-16 in 2002, Canada beat the U.S. 17-8 in 2004 and Canada edged the Iroquois Nationals 12-11 in 2013. Thorpe was a member of the U.S. squads in 2002 and 2004.

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