July 7, 2014
By Steve Lewis - UConn Athletic Communications
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Trying out for the 2014-15 U.S. Women’s National Team provided an unparalleled experience for UConn lacrosse players Lauren Kahn (Nanuet, N.Y.) and Shannon Nee (Lancaster, Pa.), who both earned the opportunity to compete for a U.S. roster spot at Georgetown University from June 13-15.
The National Team tryout, which hosted 88 of the most skilled and highly-regarded college players in the country, was held to select the 36-40 players that would represent the United States in the next year of international play.
UConn was represented at the tryout by Kahn, a graduated senior midfielder and a captain for the Huskies this past season, and Nee, a rising goalkeeper that recorded another solid season in the cage. Both were members of the Husky team that went 10-7 in the 2014 regular season under four-year head coach Katie Woods.
Neither player made the final cut for the team, but both were honored to be among the game’s best in the nation’s capital.
“These are the best players in the entire country and I was a little bummed obviously that I didn’t make it, but it was an honor to be there and play with these girls for one weekend,” said Kahn, who tried out for the third time. “It was really good experience. They are the best of the best.”
Nee, a first-time participant, recalled being intimidated by the competition upon arrival due to her unfamiliarity with the tryout process for the National Team.
“You have all the big name schools like Duke, North Carolina, Hopkins, so I was playing with all of these other great goalies,” said Nee, who has won at least 10 games in each of her first two seasons in Storrs.. “I didn’t want anyone to wonder why the UConn goalie was there.”
Nee intends to use the experience she gained over those three days to her advantage if she is invited back to tryouts in the future.
“Now that I know what to expect and the level of competition, I think I’ll be less intimidated and nervous and just go in with more confidence knowing that I can stop the shots and I can keep up with the other goalies,” said the Husky goalkeeper.
All players competed over the three days in various drills and scrimmages with coaches and evaluators present, hoping to make themselves stand out from the pack. Kahn described the tryout as “rugged” due to long, hot days competing against top athletes.
The first day had two sessions of drills, which included 3-on-2 and 4-on-4 contests to see how players were able to work together in confined areas. The second day had three sessions, with one in the morning, afternoon, and night. Saturday was designated for bigger, full-field drills, ending with a night scrimmage. Sunday was all for scrimmaging before the team was announced around 1 p.m.
Kahn, who earned All-Big East First Team honors in her last collegiate season, made the trip only with Nee, giving the two teammates a great chance to bond over the shared experience.
“Shannon is phenomenal, not only as a player but as a person,” said Kahn, who finished her UConn career second in points (216) and fourth in goals (143). “Being able to play one more weekend with her by my side, even though it’s not for UConn, there’s nothing more I could have asked.”
Kahn went on to mention that having Nee there as a supportive figure made the tryout “ten times better” than it was when the captain made the trip twice previously on her own.
Nee echoed a similar sentiment for her former teammate. “I’ve looked up to her so much with her hard work at practice, her sportsmanship on and off the field, and just the way she interacts with everyone… Just being on the field with her for one last time, playing with her and against her, meant the world to me.”
Both players said Woods texted them after each day, asking how they did and what the competition was like. Having the Husky coach as support helped Kahn and Nee cope with the difficulties they faced in D.C.
“Every night Katie would send me a text asking how everything was going,” said Kahn. “She was really involved with it, asking me how each session was and how I was doing.”
“They were always positive and telling me to do my best,” said Nee. “The coaches were wishing me luck and I was keeping them updated.”
With Kahn now having reached the end of her collegiate playing career, the UConn alum is looking for employment within the game. She wants to be a lacrosse coach for a college team, and luckily for her, she has already done some networking.
“Katie has been with me every step of the way,” said Kahn. “She’s given me interviewing tips, coaching tips, told me what to wear on interviews; she’s been there with me throughout the entire process.”
The former Husky captain added, “You always want your coach to be in your corner, whether on or off the field. It’s nice to know, technically though I’ve graduated and not going back to UConn, that she is still there for me.”
With Nee continuing her UConn career and Kahn starting the next chapter of her life, the experience of trying out for the U.S. National Team is something the duo will always remember.