From Canadian men’s lacrosse team
Friday, May 27, 2011
CANADA DEFEATS U.S. 15-10 TO ADVANCE TO WORLD LACROSSE FINAL
PRAGUE_ Canada faced its first tough test at the world indoor lacrosse tournament and came through with a 15-10 victory over the United States in the semifinals Friday.
After mowing down Slovakia, England and Australia 81-8 in round-robin play, it was time for some serious business against a hungry U.S. team stocked with as many NLL pros as Canada’s team.
Matt Vinc was outstanding in the nets_ he needed to be_ to help his team get to Saturday’s championship game against the Iroquois Nationals, who defeated the Czech Republic 19-6 in the other semifinal.
“We expected the U.S. to come out and play hard and they did,’’ said head coach Ed Comeau. “That’s a very good team we beat.
“We stuck to our principles, moved the ball well, got timely scoring from some guys, the defence was good, and our goaltending was good. Anytime you have that kind of mix you give yourself a chance to win games.’’
Dan Dawson and Rhys Duch scored four goals each, John Grant Jr. three, Colin Doyle two and Jeff Zywicki and Jeff Moleski one each. Vinc made 31 saves, including some outstanding stops in the first half when the Americans rallied from a 5-2 deficit to send the teams to the halftime break tied 5-5.
Casey Powell led the United States with four goals, Kevin Buchanan and Brendan Mundorf got two each and Matt Alrich and Paul Rabil one each. Erik Miller started and made 26 saves and Jason Henhawk saw action as well and made nine saves.
“We had a real strong first half,’’ said coach Tom Ryan. “We battled back to tied it up but we came out flat in the second half.
“They got two quick ones and that’s a team that if you fall behind it’s not easy to catch up. We were never able to get even again.’’
Ryan applauded Vinc’s effort.
“We had a lot of good scoring opportunities and he made a couple of strong saves that were the difference,’’ he said. “He really put them in a good position to win the game.’’
Canada, winner of the first two world indoor tournaments in 2003 and 2007, improved its all-time record to 16-0.
Grant, who played in his 41st international, won’t be satisfied until it is 17-0.
“We’re where we want to be,’’ he said. “We got a good test, which is what we wanted.
“We wanted to test our mettle and find out what we had. We came to play when we needed to from top to bottom. We’re on the right track and we’ve got a bigger game coming up.’’
Quick goals by Duch and Grant at the start of the third quarter put Canada ahead to stay.
“Lacrosse is a game of swings,’’ said Comeau. “We just said, `Hey, it’s our turn to get going again’ and we went out and executed.’’
Canada’s slow start was a result of playing in a weaker pool than the Americans, said Vinc.
“It was a big change of pace,’’ he said. “We battled hard for the first half then really took over in the second and played the way we knew we could.
“Those two goals gave us a bit of breathing room. As a goaltender, when you’re playing with a little bit of a lead it’s a lot easier than playing in a really tight game down the stretch.’’
Vinc and the defence got many of the accolades.
“I think he was fantastic,’’ said Doyle. “We’ll expect that again (Friday) from him.’’
It was 9:15 into the game before Grant opened the scoring by running across the middle of the U.S. zone and firing in a sidearm bouncer.
The goals then came quickly.
Powell and Vinc both tried for a loose ball in Canada’s crease and Powell came up with it and flipped it into the open net, Grant ran across the floor again to fling an over-the-shoulder shot that found a bottom corner of the U.S. net behind Miller and Buchanan dove into Canada’s crease to force the ball past Vinc and make it 2-2.
Duch supplied Canada with its third lead when he whipped in a low sidearm shot in the last minute of the first quarter, Dawson scored a short-handed goal on a fast-break setup by Zywicki 1:14 into the second and Dawson made it 5-2 from the edge of the crease at 2:09.
Just when it seemed as if Canada was rolling, a sequence of events changed the momentum. Ryan lifted Miller and sent in Henhawk, a Doyle goal was disallowed for a crease incursion and Powell fired in a high shot from the top of the power-play set after Canada was penalized for too many men.
Canada took its fourth consecutive penalty and killed it off, but Mundorf beat Vinc with a fadeaway overhand shot from a distance and Westervelt fired one in off Vinc’s legs to send the teams to the halftime break dead even.
Canada snatched back the momentum on goals 42 seconds apart by Duch and Grant to start the third quarter gave. Ryan sent Miller back in.
Alrich replied but Canada got the next three. Duch and Doyle scored on long bounce shots and Duch got to the edge of the crease to bounce one in under the crossbar to leave it 10-6 after three quarters.
Mundorf replied 24 seconds into the fourth, then Sean Morris hit Rory Smith from behind in a corner and was sent off. On the power play, Doyle dove from behind the net to swing the ball in behind Miller and it was 11-7.
Dawson scored two in quick succession from the front edge of the crease to make it 13-7.
Ryan was pulling his goalie now every time his team gained possession so he could send out another attacker and Powell zipped two long shots past Vinc just 25 seconds apart to narrow it to 13-9.
Zywicki dashed off the end of Canada’s bench to take a pass, run to the front of the crease and deke Henhawk before shooting to score with four minutes left. Rabil countered and Moleski scored into an empty net with 43 seconds left.
“That game was a testament to how good our defence is,’’ said Dawson. “The defence was in a battle out there and the only way we could answer was to score some goals. That one was for the defence and Vino.’’
Doyle called it a fun game to play. Of course, it helps to be on the winning side to have fun.
“I sure am glad we came out on the right end of it,’’ said the captain. “We showed some character and resiliency.
“I think we beat a very good team. We grinded one out. We should be proud. Now we’ll look forward to playing in the gold-medal game.’’
The Americans will try to close the gap further in four years when the next tournament is held.
“When I think back on these games it’s about the guys in that locker room,’’ Ryan said. “I’m proud to have worked with them.
“U.S. indoor lacrosse has come a long way. Unfortunately, we came up a little short in these games but I do feel we’re right there. In our games against the Iroquois and against Canada, we were not a good enough team to win but hopefully in the next four years we’ll keep getting stronger and can show a little better in the final result.’’