Former Georgetown lacrosse attackman Greg McCavera laughed as he discussed practicing at attack and midfield for the U.S. World Cup team as it prepared for its best-of-three series against Canada in the first World Cup of Lacrosse.
"Midfield is not very different [from attack], and I am not planning on playing much defense as a midfielder anyway," McCavera said.
McCavera may have been joking, but World Cup organizers actually are hoping for very little defense in the games, which begin at 8 tonight at Johns Hopkins University's Homewood Field. Game 2 is scheduled for Friday at 8 p.m. and, if necessary, Game 3 will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The series will be televised to 113 million homes in 29 countries throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and Asia, and organizers are hoping to attract new fans to the sport by promoting wide-open, high-scoring games.
To that end, two rules were added for these games. Teams will play with a 45-second shot clock and backcourt rules similar to those used in basketball. At the World Cup, the offensive team will have 15 seconds to cross midfield and cannot go back into the defensive end once it has crossed midfield.
A successful Cup could provide momentum for Major League Lacrosse, an eight-team professional outdoor league scheduled to begin next summer. MLL has several sponsors lined up, including Reebok and Jake Steinfeld, a former midfielder at Cortland (N.Y.) State who gained celebrity with his "Body by Jake" fitness television series.
"Our goal in starting this series was to have average sports fans see more lacrosse played at the highest level," said Rick Giles, president of the Gazelle Group, which is organizing the World Cup. "The sport's long-term growth will not come from the lacrosse community that has watched it for the past 20 years. It will come from attracting new viewers, and that is what we are hoping to do here."
The World Cup was created after the U.S. team's dramatic 15-14 double-overtime victory over Canada in the World Lacrosse Games championship in Baltimore last summer. In that game, Canada came back from a 12-2, third-quarter deficit to tie the game at 13 on a goal by Gary Gait with 23 seconds left in regulation. The United States did not clinch its victory until now-retired goalie Sal LoCascio saved a point-blank shot from John Tavares with 12 seconds left in the second overtime.
Canada has almost the same 25-man roster as last summer, but the U.S. squad has 14 new players. One of them is midfielder Mark Frye, a Severna Park High graduate and all-American midfielder at Loyola of Maryland last season. Frye returns to lacrosse after spending part of the summer as a running back on the Canadian Football League's British Columbia Lions practice squad. Frye was an All-Met running back at Severna Park in 1995.
World Cup of Lacrosse
What: First annual best-of-three series between the United States and Canada.
When: Tonight and Friday, 8; Saturday (if necessary), 5.
Where: Homewood Field, Johns Hopkins University.
Tickets: Available at Ticketmaster outlets; $12.50 per game.
Data: Rematch of the World Lacrosse Games championship at Homewood last summer, which the U.S. team won, 15-14, in double overtime. Canadian roster includes MFs Gary and Paul Gait (all-Americans at Syracuse), A John Grant (Delaware, 1999 NCAA Division I player of the year) and MF Eric Gervais (Loyola of Maryland and Chantilly High graduate).
U.S. team includes A Jesse Hubbard (St. Albans and Princeton), A Greg McCavera (first-team all-American at Georgetown last spring) and MF Jude Collins (Ireton and North Carolina).