St. Paul's Alex Rode talks about playing in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic and his high school career.
The growth of boys lacrosse continues at a rapid pace throughout North America.
More evidence came this spring when the rosters were released for the 12th annual Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Game, set for 8 p.m. Saturday at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Among the 44 players selected to the North and South squads, six have Canadian ties, and Utah and Delaware earned their first All-America selections. In all, 17 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada are represented in the showcase game.
What's missing for the first time? More than one selection from the Baltimore area.
Alex Rode, an All-Metro first-team goalie who recently graduated from St. Paul's and is set to play at Virginia, will be the lone area representative when the teams take the field Saturday. In the previous 11 games, an average of 7.3 area players participated — the overwhelming majority from the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference — with a high of 13 in 2010 and a low of four last year.
"In regard to the fact there is only one local player, I don't think it speaks to the play around here or the play around here not being talented," said Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala. "I think it speaks more to the fact that the game has spread so widely and covers such a vast area that being able to take multiple players from this specific area just isn't as possible anymore."
A panel of five, mostly staff from Inside Lacrosse, collaborated to select the 44 players, who were announced in four waves of 11 with the final rosters set in May. The players are selected based on their high school resume and, more importantly, college potential. The panel checks out games and tournaments across country, watches video and seeks input from college coaches, selected media and other sources.
"The task is not to pick the 44 most deserving players on a basis of what they accomplished in high school. The task is to pick the 44 players that project most likely to become college stars," said Terry Foy, publisher of Inside Lacrosse.
In addition to Rode, several quality players from the area's senior class closed out fine high school careers that likely earned consideration for the prestigious summer game. Calvert Hall, which went undefeated in the MIAA A Conference on its way to the league championship and the area's No. 1 ranking, featured two-time All-Metro attackman JT Bugliosi and All-Metro midfielder Brendan Curry. At Boys' Latin, recent graduate Greg Ey, an All-Metro first-team pick, enjoyed a strong senior season to end his four-year varsity career.
Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly, among others, was surprised to see only one area player selected. But he was quick to defend the difficult task the panel has in making selections with the growing pool.
"I understand it — it's a hard position to be in," he said. "There's a lot of talented kids throughout the country now, so I'm sure it's harder to make the selections from when they first started this thing. It's expanded. There's always really good kids that don't make this team throughout the country that people were surprised didn't make it. It's a very tough spot [for the panel] to be in."
A promising 2018 class could mean more area selections for next year's game. Among the talented group is Calvert Hall's Jacob Kelly, this year's All-Metro Player of the Year; McDonogh's BJ Farrare and Jack Simmons; and Boys' Latin standouts Chris and Matt Brandau.