~ Team Canada Press Release ~
Thirty players have been selected from among 56 who were at a Thanksgiving weekend camp in Toronto and now general manager Johnny Mouradian and head coach David Huntley and his staff will take their time before arriving at the 23-man roster that will represent Canada at the world field lacrosse championship in Manchester, England, next July.
Among the 30 are such established pro scorers as Shawn Williams, Dan Dawson, John Grant, Gavin Prout, Mark Steenhuis, Merrick Thomson and Jordan Hall as well as faceoff specialist Geoff Snider, who was tournament MVP after Canada defeated the United States 15-10 to win the world title the last time it was contested, in 2006 in London, Ont.
“We had a very competitive camp,’’ said Huntley. “We were impressed by the level and commitment of all the players.
“I was most impressed by how our professional and college players related to each other. The future is bright for Canadian lacrosse. We have reduced our roster to 30 and will make more decisions over the coming months. We are one step closer to assembling the team that will compete for the 2010 world championship.’’
Other attackers and midfielders who survived the first round of cuts were Garrett Billings, Matt Brown, Rhys Duch, Zack Greer, Kevin Huntley, Jordan McBride, Ryan McClelland, Kevin Ross, Billy Dee Smith, Adam Jones and Stephen Keogh.
The defence includes Brodie Merrill, Patrick Merrill, Phil Sanderson, Matt Vinc, Mac Allen, Jon Sullivan and Curtis Manning.
Goaltenders still under consideration are Chris Sanderson, who’s also on the coaching staff, Brad Conlon, Angus Dineley and Evan Kirke.
Players such as Shawn Williams and Phil Sanderson provide veteran leadership.
Williams scored the winning goal for the Huntley-coached Toronto Nationals when they won the 2009 MLL pro field championship and he’s hoping to get to his third world tournament.
“Nothing compares to it,’’ he says of international play. “Wearing the maple leaf on the chest obviously is special, and these tournaments only come around every four years so you treat every chance as very precious.’’
Williams doesn’t find the demands of field lacrosse that much different from the box version of the sport. He plays indoors during winters for the NLL’s Rochester Knighthawks and last summer earned championship series MVP honours in helping the Brampton Excelsiors win the Canadian amateur senior title.
“I kind of do the same things,’’ he says. “My work ethic, leadership and ability to make the right play, I pride myself on those things. I don’t change my game too much in playing field lacrosse.’’
The 30 candidates for the world team represent an incredibly talented group.
“It’s unbelievable,’’ says Williams. “As we mature as a field lacrosse country, the talent is getting better all the time. We’ve got talented field lacrosse players now and that’s a key in moving forward. The United States is the premier field lacrosse country but, make no mistakes about it, we’ve got good players in field as well as box.’’
At the age of 35, he’s older than most of the remaining 30.
“I feel great,’’ he says. “As you get older, you treat things differently. You know how to do things properly. They call that wily, I guess. But I’m a kid at heart. You want to do everything you can while you can. I’m playing as much lacrosse as I can.’’
He’ll be on four teams next year.
“People ask me how I do it,’’ he says. “All I tell them is that I don’t know any different.’’
Phil Sanderson last represented Canada in 1996 as a member of an under-19 team that won bronze in Japan. He stuck with indoor box lacrosse in the ensuing years, but he got the field bug again after being asked to play for the Toronto Nationals last summer.
“That sparked the love of the field game again,’’ he explains.
So, he tried out for Team Canada 2010, too. So far, so good.
Adjusting from box to field has been no problem for Sanderson, who also played for the Excelsiors last summer and who’ll suit up for the NLL’s Toronto Rock come January.
“I’m just a blue-collar guy,’’ he says. “I go out and work hard and try to chip in offensively, too, if I can. I’m a Steady Eddy kind of guy _ just go out and do my job and hopefully help the team win.’’
The names on the list of 30 are eye-popping, he says.
“If we gel at the right time, we’ll have a really good shot at winning the world title again. I’m very excited about getting the chance to be part of this.’’
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