U.S. Men's U21 Team Set to Gather, Grateful for Opportunity


The U.S. men's U21 team is set for a three-day training weekend. The team has not been together for 17 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next summer’s World Lacrosse Men’s U21 World Championship in Ireland will be special in many ways. Traditionally, a U19 event, the age group for the championship has been permanently moved up to U20 and due to a pair of postponements for the global pandemic, will be a U21 event for this one time only.

The result will be rosters for the top teams filled with players loaded with college experience. A prime example of how unusual these times are came during the Tewaaraton Award ceremony. Patrick Kavanagh, a member of the current U.S. team stood on stage as a finalist. Standing next to him were Jared Bernhardt and Michael Sowers, members of the 2016 U.S. U19 gold medal team.

Kavanagh, who ranked fifth in the country in points per game as a sophomore at Notre Dame, is just one of the U.S. team players that has already made his mark at the collegiate level. Five members of the team earned USILA All-America honors this year — Graham Bundy Jr. (Georgetown), Liam Entenmann (Notre Dame), Kavanagh, Jake Naso (Duke) and Brennan O’Neill (Duke). 

Quentin Matsui was a regular starter on defense for national champion Virginia. By the time next year’s world championship rolls around, Lehigh’s Cole Kirst, who had 26 goals for a NCAA tournament team in 2021, will have played four seasons of college lacrosse.

“The level of lacrosse is going to be something never seen at this age group before,” said U.S. head coach Nick Myers.

Myers, who led the U.S. to the gold medal in 2016, is just thankful the players will get the opportunity to represent their country. Already postponed once, there was talk of the world championship being outright canceled before World Lacrosse decided to push it back a second time due to the pandemic.

“We had a Zoom call and it looked pretty bleak,” Myers said. “We told the guys, ‘We don’t think this is going to happen.’ It went from a hard no to a glimmer of hope to a clear pathway to being able to play in Ireland next summer. It’s a real credit to the people at World Lacrosse for making the best decision possible under the circumstances.”

Myers last got together with his team in January 2020 at the Spring Premiere in San Antonio. Seventeenth months later they’ll finally be reunited at a training weekend beginning Saturday at USA Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md.

Only the 24 players on the roster and the coaching staff will be in town for the three-day training event. In additional to single sessions each day, Myers and the team will go the Premier Lacrosse League game on Saturday night at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field and will spend part of Sunday at a ropes course.

Myers designed the weekend this way purposely. Many players are coming off of a month of inactivity following the end of the college season. For some of the Ivy League players on the squad, it’s been over a year since they’ve played in a competitive environment.

“This weekend is about getting reacclimated to each other and the USA way,” Myers said. “This is as much about team-building as it is about training.”

There is no live coverage of this weekend’s training camp, but additional coverage will be available on www.usalaxmagazine.com and the team’s social media channels (Instagram & Twitter).

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