As the 2018 FIFA World Cup comes to a close July 15, men’s lacrosse will take to the world stage for the 2018 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Lacrosse Championship. The event features 48 countries from six continents and will take place in Netanya, Israel July 12-21. Nine Blue Devils – six former and one current player, head coach John Danowski and equipment manager Jay Bissette – will take to the field representing four different nations overall in the 20-day event.
Seven Blue Devils will don the Red, White and Blue for Team USA. John Danowski will lead the charge for gold as the head coach, while his son Matt Danowski will make his debut at the FIL World Championship. Joining Matt on the field are former Blue Devils Ned Crotty, Will Haus, and Jordan Wolf. Bissette is serving as Team USA’s equipment manager.
Below is a full run-down of all the Blue Devils competing in the event.
It was fifteen years ago when Matt Danowski, on the precipice of his freshman year at Duke, led the United States to a world championship as he guided the U-19 U.S. National Team to the 2003 FIL World Championship Gold Medal with an MVP performance.
Fast forward through a stellar collegiate career at Duke and a pair of NCAA titles as an assistant coach Matt will don the Red, White and Blue as a member for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team for the first time with his father, John Danowski, alongside as the head coach.
Ned Crotty is back. The 2010 Tewaaraton Award winner and NCAA Champion is back for redemption after experiencing the bitter taste of defeat to Canada in the 2014 FIL World Championship gold medal game.
However, Crotty also knew how sweet victory was after he scored the winning goal to beat Canada in 2010. It capped a tremendous month for Crotty that included leading Duke to its first NCAA lacrosse title, winning the Tewaaraton Award and ultimately the bounce shot that clinched the victory for the U.S.
While he is making his third appearance at the event, it is the first time since 2010 Crotty will be coached by Danowski. He will cherish the moments with John and brother-in-law Matt, in what is likely his final foray into international lacrosse.
One player’s misfortune turned into a tremendous opportunity for Will Haus as he earned a spot on the U.S. roster after Steve DeNapoli suffered a torn ACL during a Major League Lacrosse game. It will be the first appearance for Haus on the U.S. National Team and he will have the unique experience of getting to play with his brother, Jon, on the team.
Haus was a standout defensive middie for the Blue Devils during his four seasons. A Team Captain in 2015, Haus earned All-America first team honors. He was instrumental in Duke winning consecutive NCAA titles and played in 79 career games overall. He finished with 24 goals and 12 assists and collected 186 career ground balls.
After electing to not fully pursue a spot on the 2014 U.S. squad and focus on winning a second consecutive NCAA title for Duke, Wolf will hit the field for his home country for the first time this summer. Arguably one of the fastest and strongest attackmen in the game, Wolf will look to spearhead the U.S. offense in Israel.
John Danowski was selected to lead the 2018 U.S. Men’s National Team head coach in November of 2015 in hopes of bringing gold back to the United States after the 2014 squad fell short against Canada. Danowski, immediately took a different approach to coaching the team.
“I’m very grateful to US Lacrosse for agreeing to cooperate with our vision,” said John Danowski. “The vision was pretty simple. We’ve just taken a look at what the other national teams have done, specifically U.S. Men’s Basketball. I’m trying to create a culture and a program and not just an all-star team.”
For Danowski, that meant looking at the chemistry makeup of the team. The 2018 squad features a mixture of players who were there when the U.S. won the gold medal, six who experienced the crushing loss to Canada in 2014 and a few others who just missed making the roster in previous years.
One win shy of becoming the first Division I head coach and just the third overall to amass 400 wins and the owner of three NCAA titles, Danowski hopes to add to his legacy with a gold medal in Israel. Like his son, it would be a great addition to his lacrosse resume.
Jay Bissette recently finished his ninth season as the equipment manager for Duke lacrosse. He is well versed in Team USA duties, serving as the equipment manager for the U.S. U-19 teams that brought home gold in 2012 and 2016.
U.S. Pool Play Schedule (All Times Eastern)
USA vs. Iroquois Nationals – July 12 – 1:30 PM (ET) | ESPN2
USA vs. Australia – July 14 – 7:30 AM (ET)| ESPNU
USA vs. Canada – July 15 – 12 PM (ET) | ESPN2
USA vs. Scotland – July 16 – 2:45 PM (ET) | ESPN+
USA vs. England – July 17 – 11:15 AM (ET) | ESPNU
July 18 – Quarterfinals | TBA
July 19 – Semifinals | 11 am & 2 PM | ESPNU
July 21 – Championship | 3 am | ESPN2
Taylor Wray will serve as an assistant coach for Canada again. Wray was on the sideline for the gold medal in 2014 and the silver in 2010. Canada’s defensive coordinator, Wray recently completed his seventh season as the head coach of Saint Joseph’s.
Wray enjoyed a successful playing career at Duke, helping the Blue Devils to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and winning ACC Tournament titles in 2001 and 2002. Serving as the team captain in 2003, he earned the Eric Tyler Hardy Defensive Player of the Year award and was a four-time selection to the ACC Academic Honor Roll.
A 2013 graduate and captain of the national champion Blue Devils, Josh Offit will wear the blue and white of Israel this summer. A 2013 USILA All-America third team selection, Offit has played for Israel since the fall of 2014 and has participated in numerous exhibition games, including a matchup with the MLL’s New York Lizards in 2016.
Offit played in 72 career games for the Blue Devils and finished with 66 goals and 32 assists. He had his best season as a senior, helping Duke to the 2013 NCAA crown with 48 points from the second midfield line.
Israel kicks off its schedule July 12 versus Jamaica in the main stadium. Faceoff is set for 9:30 a.m. (ET).
The lone current Blue Devil suiting up at the 2018 FIL World Championships, junior defenseman JT Giles-Harris will compete for Puerto Rico after the nation was awarded membership a little over 18 months ago. He is one of 12 collegiate players on the roster and garnered a spot after a tryout period. He shared Puerto Rican heritage from his mother’s side of the family and is excited to be representing the country this summer.
Giles-Harris is coming off a strong sophomore season in which he earned USILA All-America third team recognition. He was second on the team in caused turnovers with 22 and helped anchor Duke to one of its best seasons on the defensive end in recent history.
Puerto Rico opens play July 13 against Wales at 11:45 a.m. (ET). Its second game comes against Bermuda the following day at 11:15 a.m. (ET).