Jul 28, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Back in 2010, when the United States National Team went to Manchester, England and won the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship, Kevin Leveille was just an alternate, soaking in the scene, but not an integral figure.
But four years later, the Skaneateles resident found himself as the captain of Team USA in the latest edition of the world championships, held in Denver, leading them to the finals – only to get thwarted by Canada at the final hurdle.
A native of Delmar, near Albany, Leveille went to Bethlehem High School before attending the University of Massachusetts. From 2001 to 2004, Leveille scored 105 goals for the Minutemen, put up 159 overall points and was a three-time All-American selection.
Eventually, Leveille made his way to Skaneateles and embarked on a long professional career. He suits up for the Rochester Rattlers and, early in June, scored his 271st career goal with the Rattlers in a game at Chesapeake, setting the franchise mark for goals in the process.
When Team USA was formed for the 2014 world championships, it looked forward to playing on American soil – and it tapped Leveille, at age 34 the oldest member of the squad, to be team captain.
Over time, the world championships have seen rapid growth. A total of 38 national teams made their way to Denver, including the Iroquois Nationals squad that featured former LaFayette stars and 2014 Tewaaraton Trophy winners Miles and Lyle Thompson.
The two favorites, Team USA and Canada, opened the tournament against each other on July 10. There, the Americans prevailed 10-7, erasing an early 3-0 deficit with eight unanswered goals, one of them by Leveille. Paul Rabil led a balanced attack with two goals and two assists.
On July 12, the Americans cruised past Australia 16-7 in its second game of the tournament. Routs over Japan (21-3) and England (20-1) followed in the next two days, with Leveille netting three-goal hat tricks in both of those contests after he did not score against Australia.
Then the Americans met the Iroquois Nationals on July 15. Miles Thompson had three goals, but Lyle Thompson only got a pair of assists, and Team USA won big, 18-5, Leveille earning his eighth goal of the tournament as Rob Pannell erupted for seven goals.
One more game preceded the final with Canada, another romp over Australia, this one 22-3. For the third time in the tournament, Leveille put in three goals, and everyone anticipated how the Americans and Canadians (who had edged Iroquois 9-8 and 12-6, but had otherwise stopped its other three opponents by a combined 55-10) would do in their title-game rematch.
They played it July 19 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Stadium in Denver, in front of 11,861 spectators. Just as in the first meeting, Canada took an early lead, but this time, through gaining ground balls and winning face-offs, the Canadians dictated the game’s tempo, rarely letting Team USA gain possession.
Thus, the Americans trailed, 3-1, at halftime, and saw the deficit climb to 7-2 by the end of the third quarter – and Leveille had scored both of those goals, the lone bright spot for Team USA’s offense in an otherwise bleak picture.
Trying to rally late, the Americans did close the gap (and Leveille added a third goal for his fourth hat trick of the tournament), but Canada held on for an 8-5 victory. Just as in 2010, the team that lost in pool play ended up winning in the finals.
Despite his 13 goals, Leveille was left off the All-World team that honored the top 10 players. Pannell, Rabil and David Lawson did make it, while Canadian goalie Dillon Ward snared MVP honors.