July 7, 2012

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Jahelka, Oliveri, Zoppo Voted U.S. Under-19 Men's Captains

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Stephen Jahelka Zach Oliveri Rob Zoppo

Defenseman Stephen Jahelka, goaltender Zach Oliveri and midfielder Rob Zoppo have been named captains of the 2012 U.S. under-19 men's national team, head coach Tim Flynn told Lacrosse Magazine on Saturday.

The tri-captains were selected by player vote on Saturday at the team's training camp at Bryant University in Rhode Island, where the 23-player group has been since Friday. The team will continue to train through Monday, when it leaves from New York for Finland, site of the FIL Under-19 World Championships.

The tournament begins Thursday in Turku, Finland, with opening ceremonies and runs until July 21 with the championship game. The U.S.'s first game is against Australia at 7 p.m. local time Friday, noon Eastern Standard Time.

Jahelka, Oliveri and Zoppo represent different areas of the field for Team USA, thus leadership will be spread around, although no attackmen were among the group voted captains.

Zoppo, a Baltimore native who played at Calvert Hall (Md.), is one of the older members of the team as a rising redshirt sophomore at Towson, where he played in 14 games during the 2012 season. For Team USA, he's been used as a short-stick defensive midfielder and has shown an ability to play both ends of the field, using speed to his advantage.

Jahelka and Oliveri are a pair of Long Island natives and longtime friends. Jahelka, a rising sophomore defenseman for Harvard, was one of the nation's most highly-regarded prospects coming out of Garden City (N.Y.) High. As a freshman close defenseman for the Crimson, he started 11 of 14 games, led the team in caused turnovers (17) and tied for second on the team with 33 ground balls.

Oliveri is part of a Team USA goalie tandem that also includes Kyle Turri. Oliveri is a vocal goaltender who "commands and controls the defense and makes sure people are where they need to be," said U.S. assistant coach Jack Crawford. The Connetquot (N.Y.) High product redshirted the season at UMass this spring while sitting behind fifth-year senior goalie Tim McCormack as the Minutemen went undefeated in the regular season.

The U.S. has won six straight gold medals since sanctioned U19 world competition began in 1988. In the most recent championship game in 2008, Team USA defeated Canada 19-12 behind 19 saves from Adam Ghitelman and three goals and two assists from then-captain Craig Dowd.

Follow the U.S. under-19 men's national team at LaxMagazine.com/teamusa/u19men for live updates and coverage from Finland throughout the FIL World Championships.


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