Ryan Terefenko Team USA
Photo courtesy of Kait Devir.

Chrome Defensive Trio Lead Team USA to Gold

By Nick Zoroya

Jul 3, 2023

What is that old saying, defense wins championships? Well Team USA had a noticeable Chrome LC flavor on the defensive end of the field. Three of the six starters for the red, white, and blue are Chrome teammates and they all played a major role in capturing a gold medal.

Ryan Terefenko, Jesse Bernhardt, and JT Giles-Harris were all over the field during the world games and while they didn't have flashy individual stat lines, they contributed to the stats that mattered most: 4.00 GAA and a perfect 7-0. 

John Danowski made it clear time and time again that this team (Team USA) isn’t about having the best players in the world, it’s about having the right players, guys who have chemistry and will play for each other. By transplanting three guys from the Chrome defense directly to Team USA, Danowski was able to jump start the defensive chemistry and communication that’s so vital to defensive success. 

The Chrome have been known for their defense and now Team USA is as well.

By The Numbers

Through pool play the Chrome trio combined for seven ground balls, nine caused turnovers, and a goal. The three playoff games included seven ground balls and six caused turnovers. Impressive numbers, but they don’t tell the whole story. The role that each man played is much larger than any single stat.

Ryan Terefenko - Short Stick Defensive Midfield

Terry, as he’s often called, did everything for Team USA. You would see him take vital reps on the faceoff wings, play elite defense, and he was often an offensive catalyst on the clear.

If you rewatch the final moments of the gold medal game, you’ll be proud of Terry putting his body on the line, running end to end, soaking up slash after slash to help the team run out the final seconds. We already knew he was one of the best SSDM’s in the PLL, he just proved he’s one of the best in the world.

JT Giles-Harris - Defense

The reigning PLL defensive player of the year might be the best defender in the world, securing a gold medal and a place on the All-World team. If you only looked at the stat sheet you would think that JT had a pretty mundane tournament, but there's a good reason for that. JT was often tasked with covering one of the opponents top two threats, usually resulting in that player taking a bad shot or admitting defeat and moving the ball. His matchup against Lyle Thompson provided one of the best individual efforts I’ve ever seen, earning him a Team USA “guy of the day” honor along with the respect of every one lucky enough to see him work. 

Jesse Bernhardt - Defense

Entering his third world championship Bernhardt brought a calming presence to the defense. His leadership skills and reputation as a coach on the field were recognized by the coaching staff, as the Chrome LC captain was also named a USA captain. Bernhardt however, was way more than a glue guy, he was dominant.

ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra mentioned during the championship game that Bernahrdt was playing some of the best lacrosse of his life. Perhaps he was making the most of what could be his final world’s appearance, or making sure that missing the birth of his son would be worth it, whatever his motivation he was successful. His ability to cause turnovers, slide to help, and win his individual matchup were all on display. What stood out to me was his ability to help the defense keep its shape, when a slide was necessary it felt that the defense had almost instantly recovered. Scoring on Team USA in a settled 6v6 situation was nearly impossible this year.

I spoke with two people who weren’t at all surprised by the trio’s performance. Chrome defensive coordinator Jacques Monte and starting goalie Sean Sconone. They’ve witnessed Ryan Terefenko be an animal between the lines, Bernhardt be the coach on the field, Giles-Harris locking down the best attackmen in the world, and now everyone else has as well. 

Cheer on the Chrome LC as they take the field Saturday at 6pm on ESPN+

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