DEFENCE FLEXING MUSCLES FOR CANADA

     MANCHESTER, England _ Team Canada’s defence never rests.
     Goaltender Chris Sanderson and D-men Brodie Merrill, Jon Sullivan, Curtis Manning, Patrick Merrill, Matt Vinc and Phil Sanderson have been outstanding in helping Canada go 2-0 to start the world field lacrosse championships.


     As well, midfielders Geoff Snider, Mac Allen, Billy Dee Smith, Jordan Hall and Ryan McClelland excelled when asked to play primarily defensive roles in a huge 10-9 win over the United States on Saturday night.
     “I thought our defence was awesome,’’ said Smith, who chipped in offensively with a goal. “Everybody was on the same page.
     “That’s all pretty much due to coach Taylor Wray and to (goaltender) Sandy directing us out there. There were like six or seven huge saves he made. The game could have turned out differently without them. We kept our composure for the most part when they came back and tied it up 6-6. We kept our heads and moved forward. We didn’t melt down. Everybody stayed positive on the sidelines.’’
     How good was Chris Sanderson?
     He made 11 saves to 7 by American Brian Dougherty.
     Early in the third quarter, with Canada up 5-3, he made huge stick saves of shots by Mike Leveille and Drew Westervelt that kept the Americans from gaining momentum.
     “It was a battle back and forth,” he said. “It reminded me of a fight with the teams feeling each other out, trying things, seeing what works and what doesn’t work but, ultimately, we were really strong on the ground balls, we played great defence, and that was the difference.”
     It couldn’t have been a more evenly-matched game, said Brodie Merrill.
     “The result doesn’t mean a whole lot,’’ he said. “We recognize that we beat a very good team. We also recognize that we have a lot of work to do to get better and we know they’re going to prepare during the next week to be ready next time we face them.’’
     Canada’s goaltender was very solid, he added.
     “I get emotional when I think about his path here and what he’s been through _ the face he’s a 36-year-old man who recently had brain surgery. I mean that’s what gets me emotional, when I think about that. But having played with him in 2006 (when Canada won the world title) and having known him for most of my life, he’s someone you can count on. He’s got great poise and he’s got a strong voice and a great presence in the net. We love playing in front of him.’’

Neil Stevens

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