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The Greyhound

Joe Fletcher named to Team USA

Loyola’s standout defenseman, and arguably the best close defender in the nation, was named to the Team USA 30-man roster. Joe has anchored the Greyhounds defensive unit since his sophomore year, when he helped Loyola win its first national title in school history.
That year, Loyola’s defensive unit entered the tournament ranked in the top five nationally and allowed just over seven goals per game on the season.

Senior Joe Fletcher is the only college player on the 30-man roster for Team USA Lacrosse
Senior Joe Fletcher is the only college player on the 30-man roster for Team USA Lacrosse

In the national championship game Loyola held the Maryland Terrapins to a championship game record of only three goals.
Fletcher first began his journey to the national team a year ago, when he was invited along with over 200 other college and professional lacrosse players to try out for a chance to be included in the 52-man roster. After a three-day tryout Fletcher not only made the 52-man roster, but he was also the only college player included.
“I expected to get cut right away; it was a very humbling experience,” said Fletcher. “I didn’t even know when I was named to the 52-man roster. Someone saw it online and told me about it—I was very excited.”
The field was initially narrowed down to 94 players before the final cuts were made. In that group of 94, only seven were current college players.
After surviving the first round of cuts Fletcher moved on to train with Team USA in a series of events throughout the fall and winter.
“It’s a lot faster; the guys are very smart; the guys are very good,” said Fletcher. “And growing up these are guys I looked up to.” The pressure of being the only college player left in a field full of professionals is certainly daunting; Fletcher, however, put that at the back of his mind.
“I tried to not think about that and I still try to not think about that; they treated me like a normal teammate which is really nice,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher’s presence at the national level, especially as the only college player included, is a big deal for Loyola’s program. And Loyola Head Coach Charlie Toomey doesn’t think there could be a better man for the job.
“He’s always been a confident young man in the classroom and he’s a very unassuming kid in the locker room. He’s a guy that every student athlete should model themselves after,” said Toomey. On the playing field, Joe is one of the best there is and people are starting to realize that, says Toomey.
“We knew what we had in Joe Fletcher,” said Toomey, “and now people are starting to say, ‘Holy cow, Loyola’s got a good one,’ not only as a lacrosse player, but as a person.”
The least expected challenge that Fletcher has faced is the level of communication and order on the field at the international level.
“I get lost sometimes out there, but the way the guys talk to each other—it’s controlled chaos more than you can ever imagine,” says Fletcher. “They just know how they are going to react.”
The level of communication on the field is one thing Fletcher hopes to bring back to Loyola. “The way those guys talk and work together on the field is incredible,” says Fletcher. “The guys on the national team are best friends and that’s one thing our team is as well. We have that balance between mutual respect and competitiveness that is important to success.”
The ultimate goal of Team USA is a lofty one: winning the World Cup. The United States has won nine world championships and is the likely favorite to win their tenth this July in Denver, Co.
Fletcher, already a collegiate national champion, says trying to compare winning a World Cup with winning a national title is a very different thing. “Those are two very different experiences,” says Fletcher. “Winning the national championship was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment as a team.”
When it comes to the World Cup, however, Fletcher says there is so much more to play for. “When you’re wearing red, white and blue and playing for your country, you’re playing for the troops, you’re playing for your family, and you’re playing for those guys that could have taken your spot.” Fletcher says that one experience won’t outweigh the other, but for now his focus is on his final season at Loyola. After that, he can turn his attention to trying to win a World Cup.
Fletcher will graduate in May and immediately begin training for the World Cup as well as training with the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse.
Fletcher was drafted with the third pick in this year’s MLL draft, the highest ever for a Loyola player.
Fletcher is doing his best to not think about his near future, preferring to focus on his last semester of college and final months with his teammates.
“You don’t realize how quick it comes up, and now that I’m in my senior year I’m just trying to enjoy myself. I love my team, they’re a great bunch of guys, and I’m just focused on this year and trying to do as best as we can,” says Fletcher.

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Joe Fletcher named to Team USA