What to Expect from the U.S. Women's National Team at Fall Classic

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Kayla Treanor (left) and Becca Block will compete this weekend at Fall Classic.


The U.S. women’s national team is at a pivotal stage in its process. With July’s World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship on the horizon, it’s time for the coaching staff to continue its evaluation of the 37 players set to take the field at this weekend’s Fall Classic.

Head coach Jenny Levy and her assistants — Amy Altig, Alex Frank and Joe Spallina — must eventually get the roster down to 18 players for international competition. But Fall Classic, a massive event at USA Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md., will combine the evaluation process with top-level competition against Canada, the Iroquois Nationals and NCAA champion Boston College.

“At the end of the day, our staff talks about putting together the best team when we go to win gold on home soil [in July],” Altig said. “Who’s giving us that? It’s an all-around package. Who’s executing? Who’s communicating? There’s a lot of things that go into that.

“What the overall goal is to put together a group of women who are playing the game at the best and highest level and who are inspiring the youth to go play the game.”

USA LACROSSE FALL CLASSIC

Men’s Teams: Canada, USA, Virginia
Women’s Teams: Boston College, Canada, USA
Brogden Cup: Ontario 16U/18U, USA Select 16U/18U, Haudenosaunee Nationals 16U/18U
Dates: Oct. 15-17, 2021
Location: Sparks, Md.
Schedule | Tickets

One of Levy’s goals since taking over the U.S. women’s program in 2017 is increasing the visibility of the sports, its players and the team as a whole. With interest in women’s lacrosse at an all-time high (and continuing to grow), Fall Classic provides an opportunity for fans to get acquainted with the players who seek to be the first to win a World Cup title on home soil.

“That is a dominant group of women,” Altig said. “They’re strong. They’re fast. They’re a lot of fun to watch.”

There will surely be an anticipation in the air. There will be dream matchups and pairings during every game, with some of the best players in the world descending on Sparks, Md.

“It’s so exciting,” Frank said. “Finally, being able to be like, ‘the World Cup is happening,’ it just adds that much excitement. Truly, this weekend is where it starts. The tryouts are the starting point, but we still have to get down to that 18 number. This is when we start trying to find out who’s playing well together.”

There’s depth at every position on the field, making cuts all that more difficult for the coaching staff. After Fall Classic, the staff will also see players at Presidents Cup in November, giving them another opportunity to evaluate.

Let’s go position by position to see what’s in store.







ATTACK

This is the position with perhaps the most interesting mix of youth and experience. While experience is certainly key when evaluating players for international competition, an electric player can force her way onto the roster.

“Experience is an important thing that we look at when evaluating, but we’re not necessarily comparing players based off that,” Frank said. “I think you want players with World Cup experience with so many games in such a short amount of time, but we’re looking for the best players and the best combination of players.”

Sam Apuzzo, Molly Hendrick, Kenzie Kent, Kylie Ohlmiller and Kayla Treanor are names who’ve been in the mix before, but senior team newcomers like Emily Hawryschuk, Charlotte North, Jamie Ortega an Izzy Scane could certainly force the issue.

One thing each of the aforementioned players brings to the table is the type of flare that can captivate an audience. It seems inevitable that at least one play from this group will make its way around the Internet.

MIDFIELD

Speed kills — especially in international play — and the overall strength of this group is its ability to get up and down the field. Indeed, Frank and the coaching staff ask the midfielders to be full-field contributors.

“We put a massive emphasis on our midfielders to make sure they’re doing their jobs on both sides of the ball,” she said. “Defensively, we need them to be able to stop people 1-on-1. Offensively, we need them to be dodging threats and take their opportunities.”

Another focus in the middle of the field will be the draw, where the U.S. women’s team will have an embarrassment of riches — regardless of who does or doesn’t make the final roster.

Frank mentioned Treanor, North, Apuzzo, Taylor Cummings, Marie McCool, Haley Warden and Olivia Dirks as players who could see time in the circle at Fall Classic.

DEFENSE

On defense, Altig is simply looking for the essentials.

“Communication is key,” she said.

The goal, of course, is for the players on the field to win their 1-on-1 assignments and not rely on slides. The slides will be there, though, if necessary. Winning a 1-on-1 matchup is a great way to set the tone, and it could lead to numerous transition opportunities on a team with excess speed in the midfield.

Defenders Kristen Carr, Becca Block, Megan Douty, Alice Mercer and Katie O’Donnell have significant experience playing together, giving them an inherent edge as a unit. But the likes of Emma Trenchard — arguably the top defender in college lacrosse — and Kayla Wood — coming off a breakout Athletes Unlimited season — could force their way into the equation. As could some of the other new defenders on the scene.

“There’s a lot of trust that needs to go on,” Altig said.

GOALIE

The question around goalies is the simple one. Who’s going to stop the ball?

Caylee Waters was a showstopper during the Athletes Unlimited season, perhaps giving her some momentum heading into Fall Classic. Water, Gussie Johns, Taylor Moreno and Liz Hogan will all be competing for what will likely be two goalie spots.

“It’s that consistency piece,” Altig said. “Who’s going to be a great ball-stopper at the end of the day?”

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