January 27, 2013

Bradman Reps D-III in Team USA Win Over Loyola

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Live Blog Replay

Former Salisbury star Sam Bradman led all scorers Sunday with three goals and two assists in Team USA's 17-14 win over defending champion Loyola at Champion Challenge.
© Scott McCall

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Sam Bradman heard the same speech from Salisbury coach Jim Berkman on Thursday night that he did about five years ago during his freshman year with the Sea Gulls.

"Don't take a back seat. Play level-headed. Don't get too jacked up and play your game," Bradman recalled Berkman saying then and now, via phone ahead of this weekend's Champion Challenge event. "He calmed me down and got me ready for the game."

NCAA men's lacrosse's all-time winningest coach knows what buttons to push even with Bradman no longer wearing Salisbury's maroon and gold uniform on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Bradman, who was the most outstanding player of the Sea Gulls' Division III national championship game wins in 2011 and 2012, earned the same honor Sunday with Team USA in a 17-13 victory over reigning national champion Loyola.

In his first event with the U.S. men's national team, Bradman led all scorers with three goals and two assists. Bradman, who plays on the LXM Pro Tour, was on a midfield line Sunday with fellow LXMer Graham Gill and the Chesapeake Bayhawks' Ben Hunt.

And Bradman wasn't the only Division III representative to stand out. There was also former Stevenson defenseman Michael Simon who, until MLL Championship Weekend last August with the Bayhawks, had played sparingly as a professional. Simon went coast-to-coast and bounced one past Loyola goalie Jack Runkel to put the U.S. ahead 11-8 with 2:38 left in the third quarter, proving that Loyola's talented long-stick Scott Ratliff isn't the only long pole that can tickle twine.

"With Simon coming out and sticking one with the long pole too, it was a good day for D-III," Bradman said. "It's a honor being dressed up in red, white and blue... It was a real honor that I could go out and play very well."

When Team USA coach Richie Meade speaks about events such as this weekend's Champion Challenge — and the Duel in Denver and Capital Lacrosse Classic scrimmage before it — as evaluation opportunities ahead of tryouts later this year for the 2014 FIL World Championship, Sunday's performances were exactly what he means.

"It was a good evaluation for us over the last few days," Meade said, referencing a two-hour practice Friday night, a 60-minute scrimmage with Notre Dame on Saturday and Sunday's game. "[Bradman] is a good player. Simon is another guy that came from Division III who we're all shaking our heads at, trying to figure out where we were several years ago when he was being recruited. There are a lot of good players. Guys develop at different times.

"Sam had a chance to come out here and play, and he made the most of his opportunity. It's going to speak well for him moving forward. That's all part of the process," Meade said. "There's going to be surprises. There's going to be guys that everybody thinks everybody knows, and then there are going to be guys that come out of nowhere. And those are two examples of guys who have made their mark in this process."

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