October 11, 2010

Seibald, Rabil Propel U.S. Past Pesky Harvard at Stars and Stripes Weekend

by Dan Hickling | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Team USA newcomer Max Quinzani dodges the wing against a Harvard long pole Sunday in a 17-12 U.S. exhibition victory.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- They put the band back together.

Well, not all of it.

But the rhythm section was pumping in time for the first reunion of the U.S. men's national team since it captured the FIL World Championship gold medal last July in Manchester, England.

Nine members of that squad, augmented by several others hopeful of taking part in the 2014 title defense, took the field Sunday and defeated a surprisingly pesky Harvard team, 17-12, in an exhibition contest at Harvard Stadium during the US Lacrosse Stars and Stripes Weekend.

Max Seibald netted five goals to pace Team USA, while Paul Rabil chipped in four more.

Dean Gibbons, a former U.S. U19 team player who showed why he could be a national team candidate in 2014, led the Crimson with four goals.

“It was awesome,” said Seibald, who was among those striking gold in Manchester. “It wasn't everybody. But to get this crew together was a lot of fun. Any opportunity we have to put on the red, white and blue and compete together is something we look forward to. I think a lot of us take a lot of pride in wearing these colors, and competing as hard as we can.”

Team USA received plenty of resistance from the Crimson, who deadlocked them six separate times.

The last of those came 1:34 into the fourth quarter and knotted the score at 11-11.

But the U.S. took off on a seven-goal run and blew the game open late.

“Anytime you step on the field,” said Kevin Cassese, co-captain of the 2010 U.S. team who served as head coach Sunday, “you want to compete. That's what we said to our guys. 'Let's play hard. Let's have some fun. And let's try to win.' That's obviously what we tried to do.”

Under new coach Chris Wojcik, Harvard proved capable of keeping up with Team USA, matching it goal for goal for a full 27 minutes, and trailing by just one, 7-6, at halftime.

Gibbons netted three of his tallies in the first half, including a jaw-dropping 10-yarder set up by Peter Schwartz's pass.

However, it was a spinning shot by the Team USA's Chazz Woodson that provoked the loudest buzz from the Harvard Stadium throng. Working along the left wing, Woodson, an LXM Pro Tour member who was making his first appearance with the U.S., pivoted, then rocketed in an underhand shot that rattled in off the crossbar.

“I think I just caught an opening,” said Woodson, who finished with three goals and two assists. “I turned around and my hands were free. You're always taught to change planes, so I shot it up, and it happened to go.”

Harvard stayed within two goals for all of the third quarter before Paul Rabil deposited a 10-yarder to make it 12-11.

Cassese said the exhibition against the Crimson is just the first step in the journey that will lead to a title defense in 2014.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I think it's a good thing to get some support. I think it's an excellent thing to do, to get out into the community. I think that's what they are trying to establish at US
Lacrosse, kind of a training team that has some sort of consistency, a core nucleus of guys who can play. That gets our name out there, and can provide some support for the program.”

Legendary goalie Brian “Doc” Dougherty came out of retirement to play the first half, then strolled off the field to a series of high fives when he yielded to Kip Turner.

“Anytime you can put this jersey on,” Dougherty said, “it's a special thing. I just wanted to come out and give it another run or two.”

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