DAN DAWSON SCORES GOALS WHEN HE ISN’T PUTTING OUT FIRES
MANCHESTER, England _ After Dan Dawson scored six goals in helping undefeated Canada to a 23-4 victory over Germany at the world field lacrosse championships on Monday, he wanted to express his heartfelt thanks to his fellow Brampton firefighters.
He wouldn’t be here without their support.
“Luckily, I have the full support of the City of Brampton and the fire department back home,’’ he explained. “I took a week’s holidays and did five shift changes that allowed me to be here so, without my brothers back home in the Brampton Fire Department, I wouldn’t be doing what I do in the NLL and at the world championships.
“I’m just totally thankful for what they’ve done for me. As a new guy, they’ve embraced me with open arms. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do something like this.’’
He works out of Station 209.
“Captain Perry Buisman, Frank Pazzile, Glenn Vasey and Bruce Paterson _ those are my boys _ and all the guys in my recruit class, everybody who has done shift changes for me, I thank them so much for giving me this opportunity to represent my country.’’
The six-foot-five attacker is an important player for Canada in its quest to win a second straight world title.
Amazingly, he has a major role despite being one of the few on the team who had no collegiate field lacrosse experience. His field resume includes only two seasons with the MLL’s Toronto Nationals.
He’s been a box lacrosse star, the NLL pro circuit’s MVP with the Boston Blazers _ get that, a firefighter playing for the Blazers _ and Canadian champion the last two years with the OLA’s Brampton Excelsiors. He’s one of the best indoors, and adapting to the field game has been incredibly smooth. Having David Huntley as coach of the world team as well as the Nationals has helped.
“It’s kind of been a new venture for me,’’ says Dawson, 28. “It’s been great that coach Huntley has guided me in the right direction and so many guys on the team have showed me some of the things that work in the outdoor game that I may not be used to.
“I’m still learning. Whatever my role might be on this team, I’m willing to do it.’’
His role, of course, is to score goals, which he did Monday in a win that clinched first place in the elite bracket for Canada, 4-0, which completes the round-robin phase against England on Tuesday (2:30 p.m. ET).
The Germans scored first and it was 2-2 before the Canadians woke up.
“We were awful in the first half,’’ said Huntley. “Our focus wasn’t there, but I’m pleased with the way we came out in the second half. We had more focus, and that’s how we need to play. So, bad half, but we bounced back.’’
Dawson had a big role in that. With Canada up 4-2, the six-foot-five attacker scored three in a row to put Canada up 7-2 after one quarter. It was 12-3 at halftime and 17-3 after three quarters.
Nets are so much larger in the field game that Dawson’s eyes light up every time he has his ball in his stick and ponders taking shots.
“You know what, it’s different,’’ he says. “Your mentally kind of has to change.
“In the NLL, goalies are more positional. In the outdoor game, they’re more reaction-bent. So you’ve got to be quicker with your fakes and you’ve got to be pinpoint because there are so many great goalies out here.’’
Garrett Billings scored four goals, Zack Greer three, Kevin Crowley, Shawn Williams, Kevin Huntley and Corey Small two each and Jordan Hall and John Grant one each. Huntley opted at half time to rest Grant the rest of the way.
The players get Wednesday off and play a semifinal Thursday.
“It’s a process,’’ Dawson replies when asked how the team is progressing. “We’re really enjoying our experience out here and we’re taking it one game at a time. We’re trying to get better through the week and we’ve talked about taking no steps backward. I think we’re doing that.’’
Evan Kirk got the goaltending win Monday.
“We were pretty slow to get started as a team but we picked it up,’’ he said. “Our defence played well and that was a great help to me.’’
In nine previous world tournaments, which are held every four years, Canada had never played Germany. Germany is in the elite bracket this year only because they got to take the place of the Iroquois Nationals when the Nationals didn’t make the trip.
“We were really happy to be out here playing with these guys,’’ said Germany’s Jordan West-Pratt, who grew up in the Vancouver region and who now lives in Berlin. “They’re defending world champions and we hung with them in playing them 2-2 in the first quarter.
“We couldn’t expect more than that, man. This is bittersweet for me. I love those (Canadian players). They helped us get better and we’re looking forward to playing the rest of the tournament. Give a shout out to Reg Thompson and the PoCo Saints. That was my junior organization (in Port Coquitlam) and they helped me develop as a player.’’
Kirk said he and his teammates wanted to respect the German team rather than approach the game as an easy win.
“There are better squads but we had to realize that anyone can come out here and if they work hard they can take a win from anyone,’’ he said.
Small is a consistent contributor up front.
“As the game progressed, we got better on offence,’’ he said. “I feel good and it’s good to be able to contribute daily whether it be getting a goal or an assist. I’ll take on any role they give me and if I’m able to contribute I’ll take it.’’
Geoff Snider continued his fine faceoff work. Canada gained possession 18 times and Germany 10 times after draws at centre field. On loose balls, Canada dominated 37-19.
“The German team is athletic and they came out hungry to play us,’’ he said. “I was impressed with the way we responded.
“To finish off the rest of the round robin and to get into the semifinals we need to be focused on being at our best every shift including the start of games. Today was a good learning experience. We need to be on-point at all times. Against the English, we’ll be coming out intent on being a perfect lacrosse team and keep moving forward from there.’’
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