Wills ’06 selected to U.S. national lacrosse team
By James Peng, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Former Big Green lacrosse goalie Devon Wills ’06 was selected to the 2012-2014 U.S. national senior team and will take part in the training pool for the team that will compete in the 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup in Ontario, Canada, according to a July 29 press release from U.S. Lacrosse.
Tryouts for the national team took place July 27-29 at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Of the 82 players who participated in the tryouts, 36 players were selected to the team. Wills has been selected to the U.S. national elite team every year since 2005 and has played in the national U.S. Lacrosse program since 2003.
“Obviously, it’s a huge honor,” Wills said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be on the team for close to 10 years now, and it never gets easier trying out and going through the selection process.”
Team members will participate in several training events before the 18-member roster for the FIL World Cup is announced in February 2013. The team will also participate in U.S. Lacrosse’s annual Stars and Stripes weekend and Champion Challenge, both of which feature several exhibition games and clinics for high school players. The group’s first training event will take place Sept. 7-9.
Wills said that the training process is very competitive given that only half of the team members are selected to the World Cup roster.
“It’s definitely intense, and you’re constantly being evaluated,” she said. “You can’t go into practice lightly and have to know what the coaches are asking out of you.”
Despite this competition, Wills said that most team members have played with each other on the national team in the past and are good friends.
“It’s the best group I could ever ask to play with,” she said. “You know they’re working hard and you know we’re all in it for the same goal.”
Wills was a member of the team when the U.S. won the gold medal in the FIL tournament in 2009, and she was named Player of the Match in the team’s final game against Australia. She is widely regarded by lacrosse forums and magazines as one of the best lacrosse goalies in the world.
Wills is best known for her athleticism on the field and her ability to play outside the cage, according to women’s lacrosse coach Amy Patton.
“People are wowed when they see her out of the cage,” Patton said. “A lot of goalies don’t have that aspect in their game.”
Patton called Wills an “extremely hard worker” and said that Wills always “set the bar high” for herself and her expectations for play.
U.S. national team coach Ricky Fried also praised Wills’ demeanor off the lacrosse field.
“She has a passion for the game, but she loves her teammates,” Fried said. “She enjoys the camaraderie off the field.”
Wills is currently an assistant lacrosse coach at the University of South California and previously served as an assistant coach at the University of Denver and at Dartmouth. She said that coaching has helped her develop as a player.
“It’s really helpful in terms of understanding timing and having a better presence of mind,” she said.
While at the College, Wills was named to the All-Ivy team all four years and was voted to the All-America second team 2004-2006. She finished her college career with 538 saves, the second most in Big Green history. She helped take Dartmouth to the NCAA championship game in 2006, though the Big Green fell to the defending champion Northwestern University that year.
Wills said that attending the College and playing on the lacrosse team under Patton has strongly influenced her professional lacrosse career.
“[Patton] definitely put a lot of time and energy into me,” Wills said. “I firmly know I wouldn’t be here without her help and her time.”
The national team is comprised of 36 players representing 19 universities and includes 11 newcomers, according to the press release.
“We’re pleased with the team we selected,” Fried said. “It’s a very difficult process because there’s a tremendous amount of talent out there. While it’s going to be difficult, we’re looking forward to selecting the 18 players who are going to represent us in the World Cup in 2013.”