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Vol. LXIV, No. 28
 
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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(Photo Courtesy of the Philadelphia Barrage)

WORLD LEADER: Ryan Boyle triggers the attack for the Philadelphia Barrage earlier in his career with Major League Lacrosse. Former Princeton University great Boyle, who scored 232 points in his Tigers career, will be starting play this week in the 2010 FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) World Championships in Manchester, England. It is Boyle’s third appearance in the world competition.

PU Legend Boyle Takes Role as Veteran Leader; as U.S. Men’s Lax Aims to Regain World Title

Bill Alden

Ryan Boyle is only 28 years old but he has become one of the grizzled veterans on the U.S. men’s national lacrosse team.

A four-time All American at Princeton University, Boyle is getting ready for his third FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) World Lacrosse Championships, having played for the U.S. in 2002 and 2006.

With the U.S. starting play at the competition this week in Manchester, England, Boyle is brimming with pride to be wearing the USA colors once again.

“It is incredibly special; I am honored and humbled in the same breath,” said Boyle, a 2004 PU grad who scored 232 points in his Tigers career, the second most in program history.

“I am proud of the depth of my career; I have shown I am not a flash in the pan. I have worked hard on my craft; I have taken it very seriously.”

The 5’11, 180-pound attackman Boyle is relishing his role as one of the squad’s veterans.

“It has been fun going from a 20-year-old buck to one of the older guys,” said Boyle.

“Your approach differs over time. You become more mature and take on a leadership role. I am making sure the guys stay focused. I am passing on my knowledge of the international game and what to expect.”

In the 2002 world competition, the U.S. suffered an unexpected defeat as it fell 15-10 to Canada in the championship game, ending a streak of six straight titles.

The U.S. will be playing in the tournament’s “Blue” division along with Canada, Japan, Australia, England and the Iroquois Nationals. The teams will play round-robin matches from July 15-20 with the semifinals slated for July 22 and the title game to take place on July 24.

In Boyle’s view, that setback will fuel the U.S. as it takes part in the 2010 competition.

“It is extra motivation, how could it not be,” said Boyle, who will be looking to get the U.S. off to a good start when it opens the tournament by facing Australia on July 16. “You always say it is a new year and a new team and that is true. But there are some guys who still have a bad taste in their mouths from that.”

As a result of the stinging loss, the U.S. team and head coach Mike Pressler have made some changes. “They have challenged the players to show commitment and they extended the tryout process,” explained Boyle, who had five goals and 11 assists in the 2006 world tournament and tallied 14 goals and nines assists in 2002 to help lead the U.S. to the title.

“They have crafted a team to fit coach Pressler’s specifications. He wants the best team possible, not a collection of all-stars. He is looking for a great fit and people playing their roles.”

As one of the slickest passers in the history of the game, Boyle’s role will be to quarterback the U.S. offense.

“I am in the role that I am accustomed to as a field general,” added Boyle, who has established himself as one of the great stars of pro lacrosse, having scored 276 points in his Major League Lacrosse (MLL) career and 306 in National Lacrosse League (NLL) play.

“I will push transition if it is there. If it is not there, I will slow things down and get the offense organized. I need to understand momentum. We have guys who can dodge and finish and I need to connect the two dots.”

Boyle has made plenty of connections over the years with one of his U.S. teammates, star midfielder Matt Striebel, who has won titles with him at Princeton and with the Philadelphia Barrage of the MLL.

“My respect for Matt as a person and a player has been well documented,” said Boyle, who is playing with the Boston Cannons of the MLL. “I love to play with him and spend time with him on and off the field.”

The two have combined in another lacrosse enterprise, working with Trilogy Lacrosse, a company co-founded by Boyle that runs youth lacrosse camps and clinics throughout the U.S.

“We are always challenging ourselves to do what we can do to be better communicators,” said Boyle, the Chief Operating Officer of Trilogy.

“We are always looking for drills that are different and that we would like to do as players. As our motto says, we teach what we do.”

The U.S. faces a stiff challenge as it looks to regain its world crown with Canada again looming as the biggest threat.

“A lot of us know those guys; it is a matter of national pride and it is also bragging rights in the indoor and outdoor lacrosse leagues,” said Boyle, referring to his Canadian rivals.

“It is more about the former than the latter. It isn’t necessarily a two-horse race but Canada is the team that got the best of us the last time.”

With the U.S. team unable to practice together much this spring due to the work and pro lax commitments of the players, Boyle is hoping that the team’s best lacrosse is ahead of it.

“We haven’t had a lot of practices because just about all of us are playing with pro teams,” said Boyle.

“The scrimmages have been tough. We are playing a game the night before and then traveling. Things are clicking.

In Boyle’s view, the team’s success will come down to taking care of the basics.

“We have to play sound fundamental defense; we have good goalies and we need to make the other teams shoot from the outside,” said Boyle.

“We need to have greater success in the face-off X. A big thing is not making turnovers and valuing the ball. We need to be patient and finish opportunities as they present themselves.”

And over the last decade, Boyle has proven to be one of the best in the world at creating scoring opportunities.

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