posted 07.07.2011 at 5.50 p.m. by Clare Lochary

U.S. Men's U19 Tryouts: Opening Session

Greetings from UMBC in Catonsville, Md., where the best prep players in the country are trying to punch their tickets to Turku, Finland for the 2012 FIL U19 World Championship. Both the weather and the play are hot here.

The afternoon session consisted of three scrimmages with 25:00 running halves. All 123 players in the pool got some minutes.
 
Game 1 -- In the high scoring game of the day, Black beat White, 10-7. Attacker Daniel Eipp, a rising Harvard sophomore, led the Black Team with 3g. Connor Buczek led the White Team with 3g, including a behind-the-back shot. Buczek, a St. Xavier (Ohio) High School product, will play at Cornell next year. He is one of 16 players in the pool who are not from the East Coast.

Game 2 -- Group 2 looked a little tight -- lots of GBs and TOs in this game. White eventually pulled away from Black for a 9-5 win. It took a while for Black to come together offensively, but by the second half, Hicksville (N.Y.) High's Joey Leonard (2g, 1a) found a connection with Patrick Kelly (1g), a rising senior at Calvert Hall (Md.) College.

"We knew if we just kept trying, we'd get it. We kept looking for each other," said Leonard, who will play at St. John's. "You're trying out against each other, but you give some, you get some."

Leonard said the bother of the heat was worth the chance to play with and against the nation's best.

"It's nuts. It's awesome. It's the best of the best here. I've seen some of these kids before, but not all of them," said Leonard. "The goalies are something."

One such goalie was Rhody Heller, a recent Regis Jesuit (Colo.) High grad who will play for Virginia. Heller enjoyed the chance to play behind defensemen like Garden City's Stephen Jehelka and Brian Fischer, and thought their unit gelled quickly.

"It's awesome. It's great to play with all these amazing players," said Heller. "You get to know names and tendencies after the first few minutes."
 
Game 3 -- Game 3 started slow, with only 2 goals in the first period, but the White Team pulled away for a 8-2, win. thanks to some solid goaltending from Chris Selva. Selva (6 sv) played at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) and will play for Hofstra, and made a dazzling stop on a diving shot from Penn State's Shane Sturgis, who is one of a handful of college players in the player pool. Sturgis got Selva back, though, when he buried a behind-the-back shot. (I've mentioned the only two trick shots that went in, but there were lots more taken. Lots of guys look for fancy shooting to separate themselves from the herd, but the selectors are more impressed by smart passing than by hot dog moves. Just sayin'.)

Stay tuned to LMO for more from UMBC!

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