Salt Lake Connection: Manny, Ghitelman Bring Cohesion to U.S. Men's Tryouts

PHOTO BY NICK IERADI


Will Manny and Adam Ghitelman have made the high school lacrosse fields of Salt Lake City their second home over the past few months.

The two veteran stars of the PLL made the move, alongside friend Marcus Holman, to Utah in late 2017 to be part of a Utes men’s lacrosse team transitioning from the MCLA ranks to Division I. The Utah men’s lacrosse staff has changed since then, but Manny and Ghitelman have remained committed to growing the game in Salt Lake City.

Together, Manny and Ghitelman make up one of the top training duos in all of professional lacrosse. Manny, one of the most lethal shooters in the PLL, working on his craft with Ghitelman, one of the league’s top goalies.

“I don't know if you can get it any better,” Manny said. “I'm a shooter and I got a goalie. He's a goalie and he’s got a shooter. Adam and I for the past six years, we always find that time where we have our start date, where we go every single day and that hasn't changed. It’s just been fun to grow together and train and work out with your best friend.”

As much as the Archers LC teammates have focused training on the pro season, one thing has remained in their minds throughout their careers — getting a chance to play for the U.S. men’s national team in a world championship.

Ghitelman competed for the U.S. U19 team in the 2008 world championship, but did not make the Senior team in two attempts (2014 and 2018). Manny advanced deep into the process in 2018 but narrowly missed out on a spot on an eventual gold-medal winning team in 2018 — returning weeks later to score the game-winning goal for the MLL All-Stars in a battle against the U.S. national team.

Safe to say Ghitelman and Manny had plenty of motivation heading onto the turf at Tierney Field this week to compete for a spot on the 2023 world championship team. Among a 67-man tryout pool that featured a majority of recent college stars, the Salt Lake City duo became veteran leaders even if they lacked the world championship experience. Tuesday started what could be their last chance to achieve a goal that’s been decades in the making.

“This means the world to me,” Manny said. “I want that to be worn and stapled into my lacrosse career, being a part of this team.”

“Given what’s happened in the past, the pressure's off to some degree for us and we can just let our play and leadership do the talking,” Ghitelman said. “Will and I are on the same wave of just being who we are and bringing leadership and experience that we have from all that we've been a part of over the past decades since we started this journey.”

The Archers LC teammates were among a large contingent of PLL players dealing with wear and tear from the rigors of the professional season, but willing to fight for a chance to make the 23-man roster next year. 







A veteran of both processes, Manny said he and Ghitelman’s experience helped with the transition from the PLL circuit to the U.S. tryout, where players competed within an entirely different rulebook that included no shot clocks and larger field dimensions.

“It is a little bit of a mind trick when you're still in PLL season and you got this,” Manny said. “That’s where the veteran guys who have been through the process before can level that out and I feel confident in that.”

Ghitelman and Manny were two of the most vocal players at this week’s tryout sessions, leaning on that experience to guide many players who had never suited up for international competition. They listened as former players like Greg Gurenlian, John Galloway and Matt Danowski preached the importance of knowing one’s role on a national team. 

Could players like Manny or Ghitelman be the next crop of veterans to provide support through a world championship process?

“In the last tryout in 2018, there were older guys,” Manny remembered. “I wanted to listen to Ned Crotty. I wanted to listen to Matt Danowski. Now we are those guys. Even if you made the team or you didn't, these young guys do look up to us to lead.”

“It’s a great position to be in as a veteran, to be the bridge to the rest of the team from the coaches,” Ghitelman said. “The communication, the leadership, the knowledge, being able to pass that on, on the fly, that's an important part of a team’s cohesion. Having that opportunity to have those roles is exciting.”

It certainly helped for both players to have their best friend on the field during tryouts. The communication between Ghitelman and Manny is unlike most in the lacrosse community. They train together most days — in between coaching youth players through Utah Summit LC, the program they co-founded.

Six years of working together have certainly paid dividends as they trained for seasons ahead.

“He doesn’t even text me half the time, I just hear him in my mind like ‘Get to the gym,’” Ghitelman said of Manny. “It’s really important to have someone like your best friend to train with, where you’re doing it for them to an extent.”

The roles are clear at this point in their careers. Ghitelman protects the cage and uses his voice to communicate with the defense around him. Manny looks to find space and cut hard as an off-ball shooter. They’ve practiced almost every day in Salt Lake City for this moment.

This might be the last chance for two of the best players in the past decade, and they hope to make it count this time around.

“It’s a clean slate,” Manny said. “You have to fight versus these younger guys. You’ve got to use those things that you've had experience with. Anytime we put that jersey on, you play like it is your last time going for this.”

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