Ryan Tucker and Stephen Kelly, who helped lead their respective teams to the MIAA A Conference championship game last spring, will join forces in representing their country in 2012, as each are part of a 23-man U19 National Team roster announced today.
Both players were among 123 players invited to try out for the team during four days of training at UMBC last week.
Tucker capped a strong senior season at Gilman with an amazing performance in the MIAA playoffs. In the semifinals, Tucker scored twice during a three goal Gilman spurt in the final 62 seconds of regulation to help the Greyhounds force overtime. He then scored the game winner in the extra session, propelling Gilman to the final where it topped Kelly’s Calvert Hall squad for the 2011 league crown.
Tucker, who will play for defending national champion Virginia next spring, was also an Under Armour All-American this year.
Kelly is one of only three high school players to make the national team and the only rising junior on the team.
Kelly established himself as one of the nation’s premier face-off specialists in 2011, winning 74% of his draws, and his ability to create instant offense with his fast-break capability helped keep the Cardinals at the top of the local rankings for most of last season.
In addition to his prolific work in the X, Kelly took regular shifts in the Cardinals’ midfield and was a dangerous scoring threat every time he stepped onto the field. He finished 2011 with 21 goals and 15 assists.
Tucker said he learned of his selection to the team in a phone call from Charlie Rafferty, a friend who plays for St. Anthony’s in New York.
“I was in disbelief,” said Tucker. “It was an amazing feeling.”
Tucker said the key to making the squad was focus.
“in any meaningful event, everyone is prepared physically. The key for me has been to know hoe to be prepared mentally,” said Tucker. “Our coaches stressed the importance of recovering from mistakes, and that is something that I focused on during the tryouts.”
Tucker also called Kelly one of the best.
“Stephen has great energy and he is one of the nicest people in the world,” added Tucker. “For as young as he is, he is one fo the best face-off guys in the country.”
Kelly said he is excited to join Tucker on the National Team.
“He is a great athlete and a great person,” said Kelly. “Ryan is one of the best players in the country. It is truly and honor to be chosen with him.”
Kelly said his dad received a text message indicating he made the the national team and Kelly confirmed it by reviewing the posting on the U.S. Lacrosse web site.
“It was beyond belief to know that I made the team,” said Kelly. “I have practiced hard all summer and played in four or five tournaments prior to tryouts. I also scouted the players who I knew I would be playing against for a spot on the National Team.”
Calvert Hall will also be represented on the team by alum Robert Zoppo, who completed his freshman season at Towson University last spring. Zoppo is a midfielder.
The US U19 National Team will play in the 2012 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) U19 Men’s World Championships in Turku, Finland, next year.