Above: Long Island Lizards midfielder Max Seibald plays for Team USA against the 2010 MLL Collegiate Draft Class in the Warrior MLL Challenge.
Though the 2012 Major League Lacrosse season is three months away, you can get your MLL fix on Jan. 29 as the League’s top-talent will compete for Team USA against the Denver Pioneers during US Lacrosse’s seventh annual Champion Challenge.
The Pioneers made their first Final Four appearance last year under head coach Bill Tierney, but fell short in the semi-finals against the National Champion Virginia Cavaliers.
The exhibition game will take place on Sunday, Jan. 29 and will be played on the lacrosse fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Fla. at 1:30 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN3 and broadcast on tape delay on ESPNU starting at 10:30pm Sunday night. MLL and ESPN Announcers Quint Kessenich and Eamon McAnaney will broadcast the game.
All twenty-one men on Team USA’s roster are either current or former MLL players.
Representing MLL expansion teams are midfielder Stephen Berger, who will be an offensive staple for the Charlotte Hounds this year, and defensive veteran Greg Bice, who will play for the new Ohio Machine. Berger is entering his ninth season with the League and is a five-time MLL All-Star. Bice was named the 2008 and 2011 MLL New Balance Sportsman of the Year and is a three-time MLL All-Star. Chazz Woodson will also be representing the Machine as part of Team USA. Woodson was picked up by the Machine as the 1st overall selection in the 2012 MLL Supplemental Draft.
Other current MLL players include MLL legends like Rochester Rattlers’ midfielder Matt Striebel and Hamilton Nationals’ attackman Casey Powell. Striebel is the only active player to consecutively compete each year since MLL’s inception in 2001. He set a MLL record by playing in his 7th MLL All-Star Game last season and has been named to the All-MLL Team multiple times. Powell is MLL’s all-time point leader with 392 points. He was named the MLL Offensive Player of the Year in 2005 and is one of ten players in MLL history to earn at least ten Bud Light MLL Player of the Game honors.
Team USA boasts recent MLL Champions Chris Eck and Brian Farrell of the Boston Cannons. Face-off specialist Eck is a two-time MLL All-Star and was named to the 2011 All-MLL Team. He was also named MLL’s Most Improved Player of the Year in 2009. Farrell had a breakout rookie season with the Cannons last year, and was named the team’s Rookie of the Year after leading them to their first-ever Steinfeld Trophy.
The Long Island Lizards have three stars wearing the red, white and blue. Newly acquired midfielder Max Seibald, midfielder Stephen Peyser, and goalie Drew Adams will all play for Team USA this weekend against Denver. Seibald was part of a major draft-day trade on Jan. 13 from the Denver Outlaws to the Lizards in exchange for draft picks. He is a two-time MLL All-Star and was named to the 2010 All-MLL Team. Peyser was named last season’s MLL Most Improved Player of the Year and tied a MLL single-game record on July 28 when he scored three 2-point goals in one game. He’s also an MLL-All Star. Adams was names last year’s Warrior MLL Goalie of the Year and made his first-ever All-Star appearance.
The Chesapeake Bayhawks will also send three athletes to compete for Team USA. Star attackman Danny Glading, midfielder Stephen Brooks and defenseman Michael Evans will take the field in Florida. Glading and Evans are both two-time MLL All-Stars and were part of the 2010 Champion Bayhawks team. Brooks was named to the All-Star Team in 2008.
Former MLL stars include the likes of the Leveille Brothers, Doug Shanahan and Lee Zink, most of whom have been added to MLL rosters in the League’s December Expansion and Supplemental Drafts. Mike Leveille was pulled back by the Rochester Rattlers following the 2012 MLL Expansion Draft.
Team USA will look to defend its title in the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship, hosted by US Lacrosse in Denver, Colo. July 10-19, 2014.