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When stars are dime a dozen, gaining berth on U.S. team is major feat


Damien Davis knows full well how tough the competition is on this stage. Four years ago, while he was enjoying an outstanding collegiate lacrosse career at Princeton, the former Gilman star failed in a bid to make the U.S. men's national team.

Four years later, here is Davis again. As one of 120 candidates aiming to represent his country at next summer's International Lacrosse Federation world championships in London, Ontario (Canada), he is once more attempting to make the grade.

Today, after three days of three-a-day scrimmages and a single workout this morning at UMBC, the tryout -- run by US Lacrosse -- will conclude with the selection of a 23-man team.

"You've got to concentrate, ignore the heat, ignore the fact that you're tired," said Davis, a former All-America defenseman who plays professionally for Major League Lacrosse's Philadelphia Barrage.

"You just look down the roster. Everybody is a first-team All-American or a Player of the Year. There's no one out there you can go to sleep on. One bad game could be it for you, because there's so many guys who play well. It's a stacked tryout."

The invitation-only camp includes a hodgepodge of elite talent, ranging from current collegiate players over 19 to amateur post-collegiate club players to those from the MLL, which four years ago withheld its players from the world competition.

That did not stop the United States from winning its sixth straight world title in 2002 and its eighth of nine ILF titles since the event's inception in 1967.

Among the star collegiate players vying for spots on the 2006 team are attackmen Joe Walters (Maryland), Jed Prossner (North Carolina) and Matt Danowski (Duke); defensemen Casey Carroll (Duke) and Tom Garvey (Johns Hopkins); Navy goalie Matt Russell, and midfielders Andy Corno (Georgetown) and Bill McGlone (Maryland).

The professional candidates include, among attackmen, former Princeton star Ryan Boyle (Philadelphia) and the Powell brothers -- Mikey (Bayhawks), Casey and Ryan (Rochester teammates), each of whom starred at Syracuse.

Towson coach Tony Seaman, one of the 24 selection committee members, said the abundance of talent makes it challenging to form the team. Among the factors in the selection process is the playing style the team's coaching staff prefers.

Syracuse coach John Desko is the head coach of the U.S. team.

"There are a lot of things we need to hear from the coaching staff," Seaman said. "Do you want a faceoff [specialist] who dominates or do you want a middie who faces off? Do you want a point attackman if you've already got five finishers? Do you take two goalies or three?"

Said Desko: "The more versatile you are, that probably helps your situation."

Walters, a left-handed attackman who is on course to become the leading scorer in Maryland history as a senior next year, likes his chances of landing a roster spot.

"The superstar attackmen are mostly righties. They're going to need a left-handed attackman," Walters said. "I guess that leaves a spot open. There's some hope."

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