With the tryouts just days away for Team USA, here is a brief look at the defensemen who participated in the college game in 2013.
- Jesse Bernhardt (Maryland): Bernhardt has been the posterboy of Florida lacrosse, having been named a first-team All-American for his efforts his senior year at Maryland. He recently helped lead the Bayhawks to their second straight MLL championship. Bernhardt is a proven winner who is as solid as any covering one-on-one above the goal and will receive strong consideration.
- Luke Duprey (Duke): Duprey was a vital part of the Duke turnaround. The Duke defense, once ranked in the bottom 10 in the nation, finished 31st for the season and was a vital reason why Duke was able to win it all. He ranked 16th on the Player Impact Ratings.
- John LoCascio (Villanova): ”J-Lo” is considered to be one of the less known players on the tryout list. His opponents in the Big East know him well, as the junior lead the nation with 53 caused turnovers and was one of four players with a perfect Laxbytes’ Player Impact Rating.
- Mason Poli (Bryant): While Poli did not have many groundball opportunities on Bryant with FOGO Kevin Massa winning over 3/4 of face-off wins to himself, Poli did dominate the wings, helping Bryant to win 55% of face-offs not decided by FOGOs.
- Scott Ratliff (Loyola): Like Bernhardt, Ratliff is a proven winner and is now featured in the MLL.
- Chris LaPierre (Virginia): Injuries limited LaPierre’s season but, when healthy, he is considered a premiere SSDM in the college ranks.
- Josh Hawkins (Loyola): Hawkins was part of a Loyola defense that was involved one-sixth of offensive possessions and had the 8th best shooting percentage. Hawkins is the definition of a transition threat and is willing to take risks. He could be considered for a bench spot for Team USA if they are in need of a late spark in a game.
- Landon Carr (Maryland): A member of the Outlaws in the MLL, Carr was part of an 8th ranked defense at Maryland in 2013 that, due to the ability of its defenders, did not have to slide as often as most teams.
- Tucker Durkin (Johns Hopkins): Durkin was part of the #2 ranked defense at Hopkins in 2013 and was an All-MLL player as a rookie this year. I see no reason why the physical Durkin should be left off of this roster.
- Brett Schmidt (Mt. St. Mary’s): While Mount St. Mary’s did struggle this year, Schmidt is a talented defender who got significant playing time this summer in the MLL.
- Brian Megill (Syracuse): Megill ranked in the top 20 of lax bytes’ PIR. He has spent a significant portion of his career covering top attackmen and was part of a Denver team that went undefeated during the MLL regular season.
- Joe Fletcher (Loyola): Fletcher might be one of the more underrated defensemen in college. The close defense of Loyola, led by Fletcher, held opposing attackmen to the fewest GBs of any unit in 2013. If Loyola defeated Duke, they certainly had the talent to make it two straight.
- Goran Murray (Maryland): When Murray’s college career is over, he will have covered the opposition’s #1 attackman for almost all of it. He is less aggressive than the average defender but has decent speed side-to-side and plays a very controlled style. Maryland is traditionally a top 10 defense and with Murray in town, expect more of the same this year.
- Chris Hipps (Duke): Hipps, like Turri and Duprey, was a vital reason why Duke was able to turn its defense around and win.
- Mike McCormack (Yale): McCormack was tied with Chris Piccirilli of Villanova for most points by a close defensemen. His PIR of 87 ranked 11th in the nation, according to Lax Bytes. He was the #1 defenseman on a top 5 Yale defense that nearly knocked out Syracuse.
- Niko Amato (Maryland): While the high-energy Amato has a tendency to give up rebounds, he has been an integral part of a defense at Maryland that consistently was top 10 during his career.
- Jamie Faus (Denver): Faus, part of the two-goalie system in Denver, was part of a defense that held opposing offenses to just 23% of total rebound opportunities off of saves, 4th fewest in the nation.
- Austin Kaut (PSU): First Team All-American Austin Kaut was part of a defense that ranked 3rd in the nation, had the 2nd highest save % and gave up the 10th fewest second chance opportunities off of saves. He is as fundamentally sound as any goalie I saw in 2013.
- Kyle Turri (Duke): Duke surrendered the 16th fewest second-chance opportunities off of saves in 2013.