With the World Cup underway and nationalism at its peak, it seems as though everyone wants to represent and root for their country. For a pair of Duke players, this will be a very real possibility.
Six current and former Blue Devils tried out for the 2014-15 U.S. women’s national team this past weekend in Washington, D.C. Rising senior Taylor Trimble and former Duke player Sarah Bullard were the two Blue Devils to hear their names called Sunday. The two midfielders will represent Duke on the 2014-15 squad—currently made up of 38 players—with hopes of being selected for the final roster of 18 players to participate in the 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s World Cup in Surrey, England.
Making the first cut was no easy task. Eighty-one players participated in a weekend’s worth of grueling tryouts before the initial cuts were made. Trimble—who previously played for the United States’ U19 team—described the tryouts as being the most rigorous she has ever experienced. But when her number was called at the selection ceremony, it made the process all the more special.
“The tryout was very intense and competitive. And the way they announced it was actually different from when I was on the U19 national team," Trimble said. "After that tryout, they just posted a list in the lobby of the hotel we were staying at, and if your number was on it, you made the team. If it wasn’t, you hadn’t. This time they had us all in a room together and they actually had the U.S. lacrosse representative who oversaw the tryout read off the numbers. I was sitting there, my heart pounding, just waiting for the number 48 to be read. When it was, I was just so relieved, happy and excited and honored to be able to represent the U.S. again.”
With a chance to participate in her first career FIL World Cup, Trimble referenced the ongoing FIFA World Cup as a key contributor to her excitement of representing the United States on an international level.
“It’s just the craziest feeling, especially with the World Cup going on right now. It’s been really fun to go through the trial process at this time,” she said. “Obviously, it’s a different level, but at the same time, you’re still representing the U.S., and it’s an incredible feeling.”
But Trimble will not be overwhelmed by the moment, as she has plenty of successful experience on her side from her time with the U19 national team at the 2011 World Championships. During her stretch with the squad, the Rosemont, Pa., native served as a team captain, won a gold medal and was named to the All World Team following her exceptional play.
The senior will not be alone in her quest to represent both Duke and the United States come 2017. Bullard, who graduated in 2011, will be making her third appearance on the national squad after winning gold with the U.S. at the 2009 and 2013 World Cups. She scored 16 goals in the two previous tournaments and will be one of the team’s veteran leaders.
Although their careers did not overlap in Durham, Bullard and Trimble have been in contact thanks to what Trimble called “the Duke family.” Now the duo will be lining up together as teammates, something both players are looking forward to finally being able to do after missing the opportunity by one year in college.
“I was test-playing with the national team and really got to play with [Bullard] then and now I’m truly teammates with her, so it’s been really fun to ride this journey and have her be here too,” Trimble said. “It’s obviously special when someone’s gone to Duke and she knows exactly what I’m going through right now. It’s definitely a fun connection on the field, even though we didn’t play together at Duke.”
With their cumulative wealth of experience playing on a national team, neither Trimble nor Bullard will be new to the growing pains that come with bringing a new group of players together. Unlike the college setting, where players grow for four years with those around them, the pair will have to become accustomed to the different playing styles of their new teammates right away. But Trimble was quick to point out that the U.S. staff does an excellent job of selecting the best team instead of the best players.
“You would think that like with an all-star team this is going to backfire because you have all these talented players and they don’t necessarily know how to mesh,” Trimble said. “But I’ve found that playing for the U.S. is how I imagine perfect lacrosse to be played. It’s when I feel I play my best.”
The squad will get a lengthy break following the trials and will come back together for a training weekend Aug. 1 at Georgetown.