Youth Shines in Talented Team USA Tryout Pool

by Megan Schneider

marie mccool

Scott McCall

Marie McCool is bidding for a spot on Team USA after helping North Carolina to the NCAA championship in May.

SPARKS, Md. — Fresh off an MVP performance for the first-ever United Women’s Lacrosse League champion Long Island Sound, goalie Devon Wills, who was voted captain for a successful England tour with the U.S. women’s national team in July, is excited to transition to Team USA tryouts at the new US Lacrosse headquarters this weekend.

The tryout pool features 101 players vying for a spot on the 36-player training roster for the 2017 FIL World Cup, including the 24 selected to travel to England, where Team USA defeated England’s senior and developmental squads, plus Germany, Scotland and Wales, by a combined score of 100-11.

“It will be fun to have everyone back together again,” said Wills. “It is a tryout, but trying to remember the things that we’re known for as a U.S. team and trying to execute those in a tryout setting I think is a big thing for all of us going into it.”

Team USA’s signature style features high pressure across the field, from an aggressive defense to a formidable ride and an offense that’s constantly moving. Setting up for the draw is the only time they allow their opponent to rest.

“That mentality is just always in our minds – playing fast, but playing under control,” said Wills. “In a tryout setting, that’s a big challenge, but that’s why it’s a tryout.”

The dominance overseas was much in part thanks to the roster’s youth. While 10 players from the 2009 U.S. women’s World Cup roster returned for the 2013 tournament, only eight from 2013 are trying out for 2017, flipping the majority from the veterans to the newcomers.

“That’s what made England so special,” said Wills. “There was that excitement level. There’s that newness to it all. There’s a lot of pride in that. … That was fun to see – that rejuvenated passion and excitement for what we were doing, where we were going and why we were working so hard. When it’s all vets, that element of surprise isn’t there.”

The goal for Team USA coach Ricky Fried is to keep his eye on the future because the tryout pool is ultra competitive and more than half have yet to graduate college. The talent is unquestionable, but it’s about making others better and working well together, combined with the mental aspect of trying out, according to Fried, who is looking for consistency.

“For the veterans, obviously, it’s still challenging physically and mentally,” said Fried. “They’ve got an idea of what to expect. I think this group specifically really works on making the younger players feel comfortable and welcome as opposed to threatened by their appearance. They want what’s best for the U.S. program.”

Wills, the oldest player trying out as a 2006 graduate of Dartmouth, plans to lead this weekend to the best of her ability, just like she did in England, where her teammates joked that she was their mom. But she’s just as nervous as anyone else trying out.

“I do have experience on my side, but there’s really nothing routine about representing your country and there’s nothing routine about trying out to be on that roster,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who are really deserving and really working hard.”

Thinking back to her team’s experience in England, it all goes back to that excitement for both newcomers and veterans.

Who’s excited to represent our country?

Who’s excited to play with pride?

Who’s excited to do what it takes to defend gold?

“That excitement, new blood and new energy just really brought that chemistry,” said Wills. “There was a really easy and seamless crossover between the different age groups and I think a lot of that has to do with the people that the coaches are picking. They have always said that they don’t necessarily want the best 18 or best 36. They want the right 18 or right 36. I think they hold true to that.”

The world champion U.S. women’s national team trains and plays using best-in-class products provided by Nike (apparel and footwear), Brine (equipment), STX (equipment), and Under Armour (equipment). GreenFields, Nationwide and SweatX are official sponsors of Team USA.

Follow the U.S. women’s national team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube at @USLacrosse and using hashtag #USAWLAX.

Player Breakdown by Position

Only eight players are returning from the 2013 U.S. women’s World Cup team, which won gold – Sarah Bullard, Ally Carey, Kristen Carr, Danielle Etrasco, Katie Schwarzmann, Kelly Rabil, Jen Russell and Devon Wills. North Carolina, the 2016 NCAA women’s national champion, is represented the most by position.

Note: The number to be selected at each position below is the ideal situation outlined by Fried prior to the tryouts. It could vary, though the training roster selected at the conclusion of this weekend’s tryouts will feature at least 36 players. Ultimately, 18 players will be selected for the 2017 U.S. women’s World Cup team.


Number of Players: 27
Number To Be Selected: 10
College Most Represented: Syracuse (3)
Graduation Year Most Represented: 2017 and 2018 (8 each)

What is Coach Fried looking for?

Create opportunities for not only yourself, but also others, as well as finishing shots and being effective in the ride. “Offensively, we’re looking for players who, as we say, make other people better,” said Fried. “Finishing is going to be big. We don’t need shooters. We need finishers.”


Number of Players: 36
Number To Be Selected: 12
College Most Represented: North Carolina (5)
Graduation Year Most Represented: 2017 (9)

What is Coach Fried looking for?

Be able to do what’s asked of the attackers and defenders, plus run the midfield. “Middies have to do all those things,” said Fried.


Number of Players: 30
Number To Be Selected: 10
College Most Represented: North Carolina (5)
Graduation Year Most Represented: 2016 (8)

What is Coach Fried looking for?

Force attackers to one side and dictate the tempo, especially in one-on-one scenarios. “They’re going to be a spark for our transitioning,” said Fried. “That’s going to be important.”


Number of Players: 8
Number To Be Selected: 4
College Most Represented: None (1 each from Connecticut, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Stony Brook, Syracuse, USC and Virginia)
Graduation Year Most Represented: 2018 (2)

What is Coach Fried looking for?

Presence in goal, communication with defense and athleticism outside goal. “With us, it’s at least as big as what you do inside the crease as what you do outside the crease, whether it be in a ride or accidental defense when the ball is behind the cage,” said Fried.

Player Breakdown by College

Thirty-seven colleges will be represented this weekend, with the most players hailing from North Carolina (12) and Maryland (7). Stony Brook, Syracuse and Towson will send six players each, while Boston College, Duke, UMass and USC will each have five current or former players.

Boston – 2
Boston College – 5
Columbia – 1
Connecticut – 2
Dartmouth – 1
Delaware – 1
Duke – 5
Duquesne – 1
Florida – 3
Georgetown – 1
Harvard – 2
James Madison – 1
Johns Hopkins – 1
Lehigh – 1
Loyola – 4
Marquette – 1
Maryland – 7
Massachusetts – 5
Michigan – 1
Navy – 1

Niagara – 2
North Carolina – 12
Northwestern – 3
Notre Dame – 3
Princeton – 1
Richmond – 2
Robert Morris – 1
Rutgers – 2
Stanford – 1
Stony Brook – 6

Syracuse – 6
Towson – 6
USC – 5
Vanderbilt – 1
Virginia – 2
Virginia Tech – 1
William & Mary – 1

Player Breakdown by Graduation Year

The 2017 U.S. women’s national team will be young. About 71 percent of the tryout pool graduated this year or will in the near future. The numbers dwindle down in the older classes. Goalie Devon Wills anchors a strong group of veterans, while the youngest class features standouts like Georgetown midfielder and U.S. under-19 silver medalist Francesca Whitehurst.

2006 – 1
2007 – 1
2009 – 1
2010 – 2
2011 – 2
2012 – 2
2013 – 5
2014 – 5 
2015 – 10
2016 – 18
2017 – 25
2018 – 17 
2019 – 12 

Team USA

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