Mercer men’s lacrosse players compete on world stage

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Jack Parolin (left) was one of four Mercer lacrosse players who competed in Canada's Minto Cup, and Christian Laureano played for Puerto Rico in the World Lacrosse Men’s U-21 World Championship in Ireland.
Jack Parolin (left) was one of five Mercer lacrosse players who competed in Canada's Minto Cup, and Christian Laureano (right) played for Puerto Rico in the World Lacrosse Men’s U-21 World Championship in Ireland. Photos courtesy Toronto Beaches and Christian Laureano.

New Mercer men’s lacrosse coach Ryan Danehy had to wait a little longer to meet some of his players for the first time. Six Bears wrapped up their summer by playing in international lacrosse events. 

Sophomore Christian Laureano played for Puerto Rico in the World Lacrosse Men’s U-21 World Championship at the University of Limerick, Ireland, Aug. 10-20. Juniors Jack Parolin and Taylor Dooley; sophomore Kobe Handsor; and freshmen Riley Knox and Zach Basisty played for their Canadian summer club teams in the Minto Cup, a national championship indoor box lacrosse tournament in Brampton, Ontario, Aug. 22-29. Both are prestigious events for teams with players ages 21 and younger. 

Christian Laureano (left) is pictured with Matt Cassalia, coach for team Puerto Rico, and his brother, Sean.
Christian Laureano (left) is pictured with Matt Cassalia, coach for team Puerto Rico, and his brother, Sean.

This was the first time Puerto Rico had a team in the World Championship, which was originally planned for 2020 but delayed for two years due to COVID-19. Laureano, a business major, said he was eligible to play for Puerto Rico because of his father’s heritage, and he tried out for the team as a high school junior in 2019. The team also included his younger brother, Sean, a high school senior.

“Having Christian compete on a world stage is something truly special and only comes around once every four years,” Danehy said. “He’ll remember this opportunity for the rest of his life and will be able to take this experience and help grow the game to future generations.”

Puerto Rico placed seventh in the championship, playing a “brutal” seven games in 10 days and losing to Ireland in its last match, Laureano said. The United States won against Canada in the finals.

“It was easily the biggest stage of lacrosse that I’ve ever played on,” Laureano said. “I think it kind of became evident of the high class of the event when we played team USA. Every player was a name you hear of in the college ranks. They’re regarded as some of the best lacrosse players in the world.”

Laureano said he enjoyed bonding with his teammates, as well as connecting with lacrosse players from around the world. His team’s first win of the tournament, against Israel, was especially meaningful.

“Puerto Rico has never competed on our world stage for that age group. It was kind of a statement for turning some heads for a team that hasn’t competed before. Winning that game was a huge milestone for our program,” he said. 

Laureano said playing in a world tournament has boosted his confidence and raised the bar higher for the level of competition he plans to offer as a lacrosse player at Mercer. 

The five Canadians in the Minto Cup, held Aug. 22-29, were competing in a tournament to crown the top Junior A indoor lacrosse team in Canada. 

“The Minto Cup in Canada is regarded as one of the most prestigious titles in the world of lacrosse,” Danehy said. “While there will be more national titles for these young men to compete for (at senior levels), with the Junior A age limitations, you only have so many years to compete for the Minto. It was awesome to see our guys compete for something they’ve grown up wanting to win since they were little kids.”

Parolin and Dooley, who are roommates at Mercer, played for the Toronto Beaches; Basisty for the St. Albert Miners; and Handsor and Knox for the Whitby Warriors, which won the tournament. 

The Minto Cup venue.
The Minto Cup was held at the CAA Centre in Brampton, Ontario. Photo courtesy Jack Parolin

“It’s not often that an NCAA college team will have five players all competing for this championship in Canada,” assistant coach Carl Rausch said. “It speaks to the level of player that we have here at Mercer now, and the typical person that our roster is made of. They’re playing at a very high level no matter where they’re from.”

Parolin, a finance major, was born and raised in Toronto and has been playing lacrosse since age 7. He grew up playing with the Toronto Beaches Lacrosse Club before becoming a member of the club’s junior lacrosse team. He spent the summer playing 31 games during the regular season and playoffs before heading to the Minto Cup, where the Beaches made it to the semi-finals. 

“It was still a great year for the Beaches because it was the first time in franchise history that we had qualified for the Minto Cup,” Parolin said. “Growing up and playing for the Beaches, I always heard about the Minto Cup, but the team hadn’t been very good for a lot of years. So to do it in my final year of eligibility with some guys I’ve been playing with for 12 to 13 years now was a pretty cool way to go out. It’s too bad that we came up just short, but either way it’s brought some buzz in the community.”

Steve McCall, Mercer athletics assistant director of media relations, contributed to this report.

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