Pannell, Troutner Ignite U.S. in Fall Classic Win over Canada


U.S. team veteran Rob Pannell had a goal and three assists Friday in an 11-5 win over Canada in the Fall Classic opener at Tierney Field.


SPARKS, Md. — You would expect Rob Pannell to look perfectly comfortable playing in a U.S.-Canada game. Tim Troutner, on the other hand, should have been a nervous wreck.

Both proved equal to the task Friday, however, with commanding performances on opposite ends of the field to lead the U.S. to an 11-5 victory in the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic opener at Tierney Field.

Pannell, a two-time All-World attackman, authored a nearly flawless opening statement for the U.S. with a goal and three assists in the first 36 minutes as the Americans built an 8-1 lead — a more than adequate cushion considering Troutner’s play between the pipes. The third-year pro out of High Point sparkled in his U.S. debut, making eight saves in just over 21 minutes.

“I’m the oldest guy on this team, which is pretty funny. And weird,” said Pannell, who turns 32 in December. “Just excited to have the opportunity to come here and try to help these guys understand what it means to be a part of Team USA and playing against Canada. Trying to be more of that calming, veteran presence.”

One of four players from the gold medal-winning 2018 U.S. team competing in the Fall Classic, Pannell carried the flag from the tunnel to the field prior to the national anthems.

“Today was symbolic. If he makes the team, this will be his third run,” U.S. coach John Danowski said of Pannell. “He’s one of the guys we’re going to look to now for leadership.”

Faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste, defenseman Jesse Bernhardt and midfielder Tom Schreiber  — who scored a last-second goal off Pannell’s in-bound pass to lift the U.S. to a 9-8 win over Canada in the world championship final — were the other 2018 team members who suited up Friday.

“One of the most difficult things to comprehend is you are being evaluated, but we don’t want you to think about it like that. Anybody that’s a part of this process is a part of the team,” Pannell said of the message they conveyed to the newcomers. “Understand you’re being evaluated, but don’t make it about yourself. Make it about the team. Do your job.”

Troutner sure did his. The 6-foot-1 lefty withstood an early barrage from Canada, including two saves on the first possession of the game. Pannell described Troutner, his Redwoods teammate in the Premier Lacrosse League, as a “happy, positive guy” and “a confident kid.”

“Coach Danowski said just be yourself, and that’s what I tried to do,” said Troutner, the 2019 PLL Rookie of the Year who grew up about an hour south of here in Annapolis and starred at St. Mary’s High School. “I was definitely nervous right before the game. He said just be yourself and you’ll play great.”

Ten different players scored for the U.S., which after gaining a large lead operated at a more deliberate pace and pulled the trigger only on high-percentage shots — a role reversal in this rivalry. Mac O’Keefe led the way with two fourth-quarter goals, punctuating the win with multiple fakes and a diving dunk with 28.1 seconds remaining. Matt Rambo added two assists, rotating with Pannell in the point-behind position.

“Same as always. They’re a powerhouse,” Canada coach Matt Brown said of the U.S. “They’re very machine-like. They’ve got an endless amount of guys that come at you. They did a better job than us as far as managing the game goes. They did a really good job of grinding us down and making our defense play for longer periods of time.”

For its part, the U.S. defense yielded few uncontested shots and neutralized a Canadian offense that featured Jeff Teat and Chris Cloutier, among others. Canada shot just 19 percent (5-for-26) from the field, as PLL MVP Blaze Riorden and Jack Concannon combined for six saves in the final 39 minutes in relief of Troutner.

Both teams return to action Saturday in exhibitions against defending NCAA champion Virginia. Canada plays UVA at 12 p.m. ET. The U.S.-UVA game is at 5 p.m. ET. The games will be streamed live on Lax Sports Network.

NOTES: Announced attendance for the game was 1,200, as more fans filed in to watch the U.S. women play Canada in the nightcap Friday. … Among spectators were the Lehigh and Princeton men’s lacrosse teams, who are in town for a fall ball tournament at Towson. Canada’s younger lineup included current collegians Teddy Leggett (Lehigh) and Jake Stevens (Princeton), as well as Brett Dobson (St. Bonaventure), Jonathan Donville (Cornell/Maryland), Owen Grant (Delaware), Justin Inacio (Ohio State), Ryan Lanchbury (Richmond), Alex Simmons (Denver), Dyson Williams (Duke) and Cam Wyers (Loyola). … Making his U.S. debut, Ryan Tierney, son of offensive coordinator Seth Tierney, scored a first-quarter goal on a lefty twister after getting handcuffed by a close-range feed from Pannell. … The U.S. drew two keep-it-in stall warnings, one each in the third and fourth quarters. … Faceoffs were even at nine apiece. Stephen Kelly went 4-for-6 for the U.S. Inacio was 9-for-18 for Canada.

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