Manchester, England _ Canada’s forwards shrugged off the hacking and slashing by Australian defenders in playing with the discipline required to win another world field lacrosse championship.
Garrett Billings led the way with five goals as 11 Canadians scored in a 19-5 victory Sunday. Canada (3-0) can clinch first place in the six-country elite pool with a win over Germany (0-3) on Monday.
Jordan Hall, John Grant, Rhys Duch and Dan Dawson contributed two goals each and Kevin Huntley, Zack Greer, Kevin Crowley, Mark Steenhuis, Corey Small and Shawn Williams added one each.
The decisive win came a day after a 10-9 win over the United States, which had never previously lost a first-round game in tournament history.
“Our guys were terrific,’’ said head coach David Huntley. “If anything, I thought we might have a letdown after last night but, once again, they continued to pleasantly surprise me. It was great.’’
It should be an easy win Monday and a good chance for Canada’s team to work on offensive plays and defensive schemes.
“We’ve got to keep getting better,’’ said Huntley. “Germany plays a zone defence, which should be a good challenge for us.
“We’re focusing on us trying to be better and not really worrying too much about the other teams.’’
Billings was a constant threat around the Aussie crease.
“That’s what we’re good at _ handling the ball and finding open guys,’’ Billings said. “We did a good job of that and ended up burying a bunch.’’
Chris Sanderson and Evan Kirk each played one half to share the goaltending win, and Billings lauded the players on Canada’s back end.
“Our defence played great and kept them out of the middle in front of the net where you’ve got to go to score,’’ he said.
Aussie coach John Denic might have hoped for a closer score.
“The Canadians were very sharp and clinical,’’ said Denic. “We learned more from the game than we ever thought we would.
“We’ve got such a young team. I think it’s the first time for some of them playing against skills the Canadians possess. We were a little bit over-awed in patches but having said that I thought our defence stuck at it really well. We’ll learn from it. We’ll get better.’’
The Aussies were assessed 13 of the 16 penalties in the game.
In the fourth quarter, Steenhuis and Greer were slammed to the turf when they didn’t have the ball and Aussies were assessed unnecessary roughness penalties. Wisely, neither retaliated. Aussies kept being sent off and Canada kept scoring.
The rough stuff didn’t deter Canada’s attackers.
“Emotions run high and players get frustrated,’’ said Hall. “Things late in the game seemed to happen but it’s all part of lacrosse.’’
Canada gained possession on 16 of 25 faceoffs.
Hall had an impressive outing.
“Our offence was looking a little bit better,’’ he said. “We had talked about it because, even though we beat the U.S., we still need to be improved the rest of the way.’’
It was 9-0 in the second quarter before Australia put a ball behind Sanderson. Included were two sensational Hall goals that were almost identical. He darted past checkers on a slanted path to let sidearm bullets fly while he was on the run, showing why many consider him one of the best midfielders in the sport.
The halftime score was 11-1. Huntley opted to sit down Grant to keep him fresh for more competitive games, and Kirk took over from Sanderson for the second half. It was 14-2 after three quarters.
“We play a good kind of true defence,’’ said defenceman Pat Merrill. “We’re really well-prepared.
“(Defensive co-ordinator Taylor Wray) does a really good job on the defensive end to make sure we know our matchups and how to anticipate their offensive sets ahead of time and that really helps. And all tournament long Chris and Evan have been great for us in net. When goalies are making the saves it makes our jobs a lot easier.’’
Canada isn’t not going to take Germany lightly, said Hall.
“Every team in our division can play lacrosse,’’ he said. “It’ll be a game to get better in. We want to get incrementally better so we’re eliminating our mistakes. If you turn the ball over with no shot clock . . . one mistake can lead to five minutes of defence.’’
Merrill says he and his teammates “have a lot of respect for the other teams.’’
“It’s still early and we have a lot of things to improve on. So we’ll take the same approach in preparing for every game.’’
Neil Stevens, Team Canada media contact