Fresh off a plane from Saskatoon, in Saskatchewan, Canada, Kyle Worsley was ecstatic.
The South Carroll High School graduate and former Times boys lacrosse all-county first-team selection had just finished representing the United States at the International Indoor Junior Lacrosse World Junior Lacrosse Championship from Aug. 8-12.
Worsley tallied one goal and two assists in the round-robin tournament against Team Canada, the eventual champions, and Team Iroquois.
And while Team USA failed to secure a point in the competition, the experience was unforgettable for Worsley.
“It was really something special, I don’t know how to describe it,” he said. “Playing for Team USA was one of those experiences that I feel like not many people get to do, so even though it was the junior level, it was still awesome.”
But the opportunity to compete among the top junior-aged box lacrosse players came unexpectedly.
While playing pickup box lacrosse in the Baltimore Indoor Lacrosse League this summer, Worsley said he caught the eye of co-commissioner Larry Fila.
It sparked a conversation.
“He was watching the game, saw me play and he asked me how old I was,” Worsley said. “I told him 19 and he said, ‘Well, you can play for Team USA, are you interested?’ I was like, absolutely.”
Within the next week, Worsley made the trek north to Buffalo, New York, and played with Team USA in a few exhibition games before competing at the WJL Championships.
Box lacrosse is a more condensed version of field lacrosse. It’s played indoors rather than outdoors and closely mimics hockey. Each team fields six players — five runners and one goalie.
The sticks and goals are smaller, and the field is tighter, forcing players to rely on technique and stick skills.
Worsley was first introduced to box lacrosse as a freshman at South Carroll and said it stuck with him.
“I immediately fell in love with it,” he said. “It was something about it. I think that it was more stick skill oriented, which is always something I’ve [had] in my game.”
While Worsley admitted he feels like he’s better at box lacrosse than field lacrosse, the box experience has been huge throughout his young career.
Worsley led Carroll County in goals (64) and points (88) during the 2017 high school season — the attackman helped South Carroll play in the Class 2A-1A state finals that spring — and committed to play at Salisbury University, a Division III national powerhouse, as a walk-on.
But after failing to make the team as a freshman, there was uncertainty surrounding his lacrosse future.
“I thought for a little bit there that I’d be fine just going there for school if I didn’t make the team,” he said. “But, I just needed to play.”
That’s when Onondaga Community College men’s lacrosse coach Chuck Wilbur contacted Worsley, he said, about playing in upstate New York.
So Worsley made the decision to attend Onondaga and totaled eight goals and four assists during his first season, helping lead the Lazers to an undefeated season and their 11th National Junior College Athletic Association national championship.
“Those are all box lacrosse players and Wilbur actually picked me up and said he rarely gets guys from Maryland because [Onondaga’s] offense is very box lacrosse [oriented],” Worsley said. “It’s part of the reason I made Team USA.”
Worsley said he has aspirations to play at the D-I level following his sophomore season with Onondaga, and believes all field players should try box lacrosse because of its growth in popularity.
“I think it’s the future of our game especially now with college getting the 60-second shot clock,” he said. “It really prepares you. You have a much shorter time to react to everything because it’s a much closed quarter environment. … Once you go to field [lacrosse] the game slows down.”