Lacrosse across borders

MANCHESTER - For a team competing in the FIL World Lacrosse Championships, one would think that the tournament was all about winning. But for coach Don Benasich and Team Vermont the experience at the world championships was about way more than the game.

The U-16 Team Vermont, made up of players from all over the state and one player from Colorado and one player from England, made the trip to Manchester, England for the week long lacrosse festival, where teams and players from around the world gathered. Team Vermont participated in the six team U-16 division agianst teams from England, the U.S. and Canada.

"They met players from all over the world," said head coach Benasich. "That was probably the best experience they could have."

While the U-16 division had six teams, there were other divisions with teams from the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, Wales, and many more. Team Vermont was able to interact with players from all the different teams and countries.

"It was cool hanging out with the other teams," said Max Johnson, the team's leading scorer for the tournament. "We got to talk to them and see what lacrosse is like for them. After every game we exchanged pinnies and shorts."

Team Vermont got their own dose of the United Kingdom when they took on a player from England. With an extra spot on the team, Benasich took a player that had been cut from one of the English teams. The Vermont players embraced him, and the player from Colorado that had joined them.

"We all ended up loving him," said goalkeeper Gabe Myerson, of the late addition to the team. "It was fun to play with someone who has different ideas of lacrosse."

Both Johnson and Myerson, who play for Burr and Burton during the school year, mentioned the team bonding and traveling around the city of Manchester.

"We walked around a lot, we got a guided tour of the Manchester United stadium," said Myerson. "That was my favorite off the field thing."

Another thing Myerson remembered was the interaction with the Peru Lacrosse Association. The country is looking to build up the sport in their country, and Team Vermont donated a bunch of extra sticks to the association to help out the cause.

"I think a lot of us as a team felt that we would do anything we could to help," said Myerson. "It was nice to see so many other countries and lacrosse really blossom."

Benasich was also impressed by his team's willingness to help and said that he hopes to continue to help the group from Peru grow the game in their country.

"We went over as a team and donated about 20 sticks," said Benasich. "The boys felt really good about that. It was about helping another country start lacrosse, and introduce lacrosse."

One thing that both players and the coach had to be prompted to talk about was the games they played. The team finished in third place, losing to Canada.

"Each team had a different style," said Johnson. "It was really competetive."

It was the world championships, however, and the team got front row seats for the world champsionship game between the U.S. and Canada, a nail biter that the U.S. won 12-10.

"That was amazing, cheering on our fellow countrymen," said Myerson. "The stadium was so small, we could interact with the players on the field."

Benasich said that the he thinks that the team had a great experience, taking in more that just the lacrosse.

"It was really great times," said Johnson. "It was a really good experience."

Team Vermont's foray into international lacrosse was a big success, both on and off the field.


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