Canada into Semifinals After Trouncing England 28-5


 From Canadian Men’s Indoor Lacrosse Team

 Tuesday, May 24, 2011


     PRAGUE _ The hard part starts now.

     Canada is into the semifinals at the world indoor lacrosse tournament with a likely Friday semifinals date with the United States, and that’ll be a much tougher assignment than the three round-robin preliminaries: 27-1 over Slovakia, 26-2 over Australia and 28-5 over England.

     The latest win, against England, saw Colin Doyle, John Grant Jr. and Rhys Duch score four goals each, Stephane Leblanc, Dan Dawson, Shawn Evans and Josh Sanderson get three each, Brett Mydske two and Bill Greer and Mike Carnegie one each.

     “The team played well,’’ said Sanderson. “We played hard to tune up for the semifinal game.

     “I thought it was a great team effort.’’

     After three games in three days, outscoring the opposition 81-8, the players get Wednesday off to rest up.

     Canada held quarter leads of 10-0, 16-1 and 20-2.

     “Everybody was firing on all cylinders,’’ said defenceman Jon Sullivan.

     Matt Vinc was in goal for the first half and Anthony Cosmo stepped into the crease for the second half.

     “It was a nice transition game heading into the medal round,’’ said Vinc.

     While England was outmatched, its players certainly knew how to swing the stick. Jamie Tasko high-sticked Rory Smith and knocked out an upper front tooth. No penalty was assessed. Tasko connected with another vicious hit on Smith later in the game. No penalty was assessed. Tasko is fortunate that tournament rules forbid fighting.

     “I can’t fight here so I really couldn’t address it,’’ said Smith. “If I was in a game back home I would have addressed it. It was brutal.’’

     The non-retaliatory discipline displayed by Smith and teammates who were similarly accosted was impressive.

    “We’ve got a game plan here and it’s about being disciplined, working hard and developing chemistry with teammates,’’ said Sanderson. “We’re trying to get better every game and everybody is buying into the system we’re doing and putting the team first.

     “Everybody was looking at the big goal today, which was to have our best game before the semis. It’s a blast playing with these guys and everybody is doing what they have to do.’’

     With a huge lead, and with the forwards getting tired after being on the floor so often, the coaches put five defencemen on the floor, and Carnegie scored.

     “I went to the net on a pick and roll,’’ said Carnegie, sitting on a dressing room bench with both feet in a bucket of ice. “I tried to hit the goalie with my shot but it went in. It looked pretty but I wasn’t actually trying to score.’’

     Brodie Merrill made his first tournament appearance after arriving earlier in the day. He was delayed a day because of a flight cancellation and he used borrowed equipment because his bags got misplaced in transit. He’ll be sleeping in Wednesday.

     “We’re looking for a chance to unwind a little bit now,’’ Sullivan said of the scheduled day off. “We’ll rest up and get back into it Thursday morning with practice.’’

     Canada plays the winner of Thursday’s U.S.-Australia quarter-final in a Friday semifinal.

     The Iroquois Nationals won the other pool and will play the England-Czech Thursday quarter-final winner in the other Friday semi.



     Brodie Merrill played in Jeff Zywicki’s shoes and he wore Jordan Hall’s pads. Zywicki and Hall were rested Tuesday so Merrill used their equipment because his bags didn’t arrive.

     “They’re in London,’’ he said. “But it was nice to finally get here. I had a bit of a marathon trip.’’

     He’d been in Illinois with a youth lacrosse team from the Hill Academy north of Toronto where he and brother and Team Canada teammate Pat Merrill are instructors. His scheduled Sunday flight out of Chicago didn’t take off and he flew overnight Monday, getting to the team hotel in Prague on Tuesday morning.

     “The opportunity to play with these guys is special,’’ he said of his eagerness to play. “You could see today that we’re winning the right way, taking care of the little things and making unselfish plays.’’



     One-third of the lineup used by England coach Chris Hall of Victoria, who coaches the NLL’s Washington Stealth, was comprised of Canadians including Chris Manwaring of Burnaby, B.C., who scored two goals. Shawn Cable of Prince George, B.C., James Delaney of Port Coquitlam, B.C., and Mike Gillan of Brampton, Ont., scored one each. Matt Roik of Dunnville, Ont., the backup goalie for the Stealth, played the first half.

     Hall said he told the England-trained players in his lineup them before the game that the game would be a learning exercise.

     “We were going to play hard and hustle no matter what the score was even if it was 60-0,’’ he said. “We really didn’t care. We were just trying to understand the game fundamentally when it’s played by the world’s best players.

     “They got a lesson today in that, even though you’re trying to work hard in your fundamentals, when you’re playing against guys that have played it for 10,000 hours as opposed to 10 hours the level of play is up about 50 notches. So, it was a good learning exercise for us.’’

     The result showed how big the talent gap is between the best and the rest, he said.

     “It’s always a humbling experience but no unexpected. I was proud of the way they hung in there and played with a stiff upper lip trying to the bitter end.’’

     Manwaring plays in the Western Lacrosse Association for the Burnaby Lakers and has faced some of Team Canada’s players in the WLA.

     “We came out a little slow but those guys are some of the best players in the world so I think for the amount of experience they have over us we did pretty well,’’ he said. “In the third and fourth quarter, I thought our defence played excellent. They started to get meaner and to understand what was needed to take care of some of the bigger guys. They really started to bring the chops. They did the slides and fought through the screens so, yea, I was really proud of our defence.’’

     Captain Alan Keeley was throwing his weight around as best he could.

     “It was a tough learning curve for the boys, especially the English boys,’’ he said. “We had a tough first half but we stepped it up at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth and got the aggression up. It was a fast-paced game.’’

     He wasn’t intimidated by the pros, he said.

     “We told everyone before the game not to be starstruck, they’re just humans like everyone else,’’ he said. “Just go out there and try to stick with them.’’


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