Chemistry Built During Team USA Training Camp


A four day training camp in New England helped Team USA get ready for the upcoming Federation of International Lacrosse Men's World Championship in Israel.

The public result — a loss to the Major League Lacrosse All-Stars — wasn’t the outcome that the U.S. men’s national team wanted, but a four-day training camp in New England should serve the United States well as it prepares for the upcoming Federation of International Lacrosse Men’s World Championship in Netanya, Israel.

The U.S. team participated in two-a-days at Gillette Stadium leading up to last week’s All-Star Game and as much as they gained on the field, they may have gained more off of it.

“Chemistry” is the word with which longstick midfielder Joel White summed it up.

“There's a lot of egos and the coaching staff has been amazing saying kind of check the egos at the door and be a team, but be a tough team,” White said. “And I think that's we can kind of build off of. This week was awesome to mesh a little bit and add a little bit of chemistry.”

The coaching staff made a point of including team bonding moments into the training camp, along with X’s and O’s on the field.

Although this is the eighth time that Danowski and his staff have had an opportunity to work with the players, those eight meetings stretched over a 29-month period dating back to January 2016.

The training camp was the first time that tryouts were essentially over, with Danowski naming the 23-player roster following the Team USA Spring Premiere in Bradenton, Fla., in January.



The exception to that was the need to replace short-stick defensive midfielder Steve DeNapoli, who tore his ACL in an MLL game in early June. A pair of short-stick d-middies, Will Haus and Jake Richard (who got married two days after the All-Star Game), were both in the camp along with five other training team members. Haus was named to the travel roster for Israel, where he will join his brother, John, on the team.

The other injury concern for the coaching staff is defenseman Joe Fletcher. Fletcher injured his knee during an MLL game two days before training camp started and did not play in the All-Star Game. Fletcher, who said he hasn’t missed a game for an injury since high school, actively worked with the Team USA medical staff during the camp, and is hopeful to be ready for Israel.

The team is definitely ready for Israel.

“We kind of can't believe it’s here,” longstick midfielder Kyle Hartzell said last week. “We're two weeks out from leaving. It's started to set in with all these guys here. When I first got here, initially it still felt like a tryout. But this is the team we're taking.”

Hartzell is one of eight players from the 2014 U.S. team hoping to win gold after a silver medal finish in 2014. The pain of that loss still burns, but the team knows that the past is the past. No matter what they do, they can’t take the 2014 championship away from Canada. Canada earned that. Now the U.S. wants to earn its title.

The loss to the MLL All-Stars was one step on the journey.

“We take away a lot,” White said. “We did a lot of good things, and made a lot of mistakes. It's a different game. We've been playing slow all week and then all of a sudden you have a 60-second shot clock. I think that was a little bit of a difference.”

Prior to the game, attackman Matt Danowski said, “Thursday night is going to be fun because it will be our first competitive experience as a team. It won't be very helpful for us in terms of the rules, but I'm excited to play and work through the ups and downs as a team, to face challenges and get better with them and see how we react and see what kind of team we're going to become. I guarantee you the team that gets there is going to be different than the team that leaves.”

The challenge presented was bouncing back from a tough loss. The U.S. goes into the world championship having won the event nine out of the 12 times it has been contested. But Canada is the defending champion, and has won two of the last three world titles.

The U.S. is clearly an underdog despite a roster stacked with some of the biggest names in the sport.

In just a few days the Americans will board a plane for Israel and begin their chase for gold. It’s an experience they’ll never forget.

“It's always the journey,” Hartzell said. “We're together for two weeks. You stay in the dorms, just the experiences you get with the guys, going out to lunch. You'll always remember the locker room, playing on the field. You take everything in.”

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