Saints’ national service

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Six members of St Andrews Men’s Lacrosse recently attended a practice weekend with Scotland’s national lacrosse team. The young St Andrews team has a history of sending players to the national squad; since 2005 nearly a dozen Saints have represented Scotland either in international competition or regional tournaments.

This last training weekend was also the last trial before the European Championships in June. A rolling selection process of practices and tournaments runs during the year lead-up before international competition (or ‘tours’). The roster is limited to 23 spots for the 2012 European Championships in Amsterdam.

The current group from St Andrews – Andrew Shen, Graham Higgins, Angus West, and Peter Muench – entered the program in March 2011, heading to Glasgow for the first trial session held following the World Championships in 2010.

None of these Saints are native to Scotland – and without Scottish passports, they are only eligible to play under their student visas, so long as they keep residence in Scotland. As per Federation of International Lacrosse statute each national team may only keep four non-passport-holding players on their final roster.

The restriction makes heightened competition for those non-passport spaces. But, thankfully, St Andrews looks likely to take all four. The University has become a recognizable brand in Scottish Lacrosse; players from university and club teams across Scotland are well aware of the skill from St Andrews.

Yet lacrosse across Scotland is getting better, quickly. During regular season league play, the Glasgow Lions – a club team, and the first to field a men’s high-school squad in Scotland – won a decisive victory against St Andrews; while more recently the University of Stirling showed that their top players were catching onto the nuances of the game.

Playing in Scottish university league games, some of the better players on either side are likely involved with the national team. After time together at trials, practices and tournaments, international players are introduced to a larger Scottish lacrosse network. It is a small sport in a small country, so it is easy to spread a wide web.

Team Scotland weekend practices are always good: serious competition, better lacrosse, and getting familiar with many Premier Inns. This year, Freshmen Saints Mike Ferrigan, Xandy Walsh, and Freddie Hall made serious impressions in Glasgow at training for the Men’s U19 Team.

Amongst those at trials, there is always a fear of getting cut with a healthy competitive spirit, but now the rosters for the Senior European Championships and U19 World Championships are close to set.

In 2010, Scotland placed seventh out of thirty competing teams for the World Championships. Scotland’s coaching staff and players agree there is a better base now than four years ago, building for the next World games. The team’s talent level has grown at a remarkable pace, and has established Scotland as a serious contender in international competition.

The Scottish organisation is focused on long-term success. Head Coach John Kenney (an imported American with serious experience at high levels in the States) reiterates: Scotland wants to win the European Championships in Amsterdam and the Junior World Championships in Finland this summer, and is looking ahead to the Senior World Championships in 2014.

This May, players from St Andrews will again represent Scotland at the British National Championships in Manchester. The team has made great strides in the past year despite limited time together, thanks to individual efforts from players and the competitive ethos in the programme.

The Saints joining Scotland as it approaches the European Championships in June hope to continue the strong tradition of St Andrews Men’s Lacrosse at the international level and help Scotland get another victory.

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