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Lacrosse players take world stage

Jonathan Sirisuth had settled down to lunch at the International Village dining hall when he received the phone call from his brother, seven years his senior.

It was the spring of 2013 and Sirisuth, BHS’16, was in the process of firming up his plans for the ensuing semester.

“Make sure you have some availability,” his brother told him. “And book a flight to Thailand.”

A few weeks later, Sirisuth made the 8,500-mile journey from Boston to Bangkok, where his parents had lived before moving to Connecticut in 1984.

There, Sirisuth introduced himself to the founder of Thailand’s national lacrosse team, with whom his older brother had connected via social media. The squad, it turned out, could use Sirisuth’s talent as a long stick midfielder, a position he had played on Northeastern’s club team.

In short order, Sirisuth suited up for Thailand in the 2013 Asia Pacific Lacrosse Championships, which were held in Beijing. The tournament went well—Thailand finished third—and Sirisuth earned a coveted roster spot on the club’s national team.

Sirisuth will represent Team Thailand in the 2014 Lacrosse World Championships.

Sirisuth will represent Team Thailand in the 2014 Lacrosse World Championships.

The honor was anything but nominal: This month, Sirisuth will be competing for Thailand in the 2014 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships, which will convene hundreds of players from more than three dozen nations. The games will be held July 10-19 in Denver, Colorado and telecast on ESPN’s sister stations.

“It’s an honor to represent my family’s heritage and everyone else who has dedicated endless hours to the growth of the game,” said Sirisuth, noting that Thailand’s lacrosse program is but 4 years old. “Although this is our first world games, we expect to compete with whomever we face-off against.”

In pool play, Thailand will battle Latvia, Scotland, and Switzerland, with the top two teams advancing to the quarterfinal round. Win or lose, Sirisuth will have the opportunity to trade game stories with another Northeastern lacrosse player aiming to impress in Denver.

Chris McPartland, DMSB’18, will be competing in the elite division of the World Lacrosse Festival, which will be held in conjunction with the World Championships. The story of his rise in the ranks of Team Eire, a subsidiary of Ireland’s national squad, is something of a serendipitous tale.

While studying in Ireland through the N.U.in Program, McPartland played for a club team and eventually tried out for the national squad. Though currently ineligible to suit up for Ireland, he impressed its coaches and earned a spot as the starting goaltender on the country’s development team.

The first ball he’ll be counted on to save in the festival will be fired off the stick of a Japanese player on Team Kansai, but the confident netminder is none too worried about making the crucial stops. “I’ve been playing goalie for as long as I’ve been playing lacrosse,” said McPartland, who first picked up a stick in second grade. “I hate losing and making big saves is very rewarding.”

Both he and Sirisuth like to think of themselves as lacrosse ambassadors, representatives of the country’s fastest growing sport. As a testament to its increasing popularity, more than 40 games in the World Championships will be telecast on ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPNU.

“It’s fast paced, it’s high-scoring,” McPartland said, explaining the sport’s pull.

The same adjectives could be used to describe Northeastern’s club team, which scored more than its share of goals this past season and reached the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association’s national tournament for the first time in seven years.

McPartland redshirted, playing sparingly in his first year with the Huskies. Sirisuth did not play at all, choosing to take a year off in in order to explore his research interest in health disparities. Both plan on playing next season, when the program figures to reach a fever pitch.

“I took the season off to apply what I learned from the lacrosse program in a very different setting,” said Sirisuth, a third-year student majoring in health sciences who worked as a data collector at the Tufts School of Nutrition while he earned a 3.8 GPA this spring. “All of this would not have been possible if it weren’t for the skills I learned while playing lacrosse for Northeastern.”