June 17, 2012

U.S. U19 Team Runs Past Long Island All-Stars

California native Michael Tagliaferri scored two goals for Team USA in a 12-4 exhibition win over a group of Long Island all-stars on Saturday night.
© John Mecionis

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com | Photo Gallery

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Thanks to Michael Tagliaferri, when the U.S. Under-19 men's national team heads to Finland later this summer, the team will truly be representative of a country that stretches from sea to shining sea.

Tagliaferri, a Northern California native who will play at North Carolina next season, is the first player from California to make a national team.

"Back home it's a big deal, not just for me, but for everyone," said Tagliaferri, after Team USA defeated the Long Island All-Stars, 12-4, on Saturday night. "It's a big deal to represent not only my country, but California too."

And represent he did, scoring two goals to help Team USA past some of the best high school and college talent on Long Island.

Tagliaferri landed in New York earlier this week and missed his graduation from San Ramon Valley High School, but he didn't mind.

"You don't get an opportunity to play for a gold medal every summer." Tagliaferri said.

True, but in future summers, other Californians should get that chance.

"California's growing as a whole," Tagliaferri said. "I think we're catching up to these East Coast guys. Back here you just have so many players that are polished. They've played for a long time. The speed is a little better."

While the East Coast still dominates -- the team has 10 Long Islanders -- there is a cross country feel to the squad with Tagliaferri, Matthew Florence and Tanner Ottenbreit (Colorado) and Connor Buczek (Ohio).

"It's so cool to see how the game is spreading," said Harvard defender Stephen Jahelka, one of the aforementioned Long Islanders. "You get a Peter Baum at Colgate, he's from Oregon. The game is really moving across the country. That's really cool for kids to see when they come watch us. You don't have to be from the East Coast to make teams like this. You can be from anywhere."

Of course, those from traditional lacrosse hotbeds, will have an impact for the U.S. in Finland.

Matt Kavanagh played high school lacrosse at nearby Chaminade and led all players with four goals and one assist. His high school teammate Sean Mahon, currently of Harvard, added two goals. And the Long Island team, which was led by two goals from Garden City's Liam Kennedy, provided a solid opening test for Team USA to start its three game-exhibition schedule ahead of July's FIL World Championship.

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