Canada To Face Confident U.S. Team in Semifinal


 From Canadian Men’s Lacrosse Team

 Thursday, May 26, 2011


     The United States breezed past Australia 28-2 on Thursday to earn a Friday semifinals berth against Canada in the world indoor lacrosse tournament and coach Tom Ryan didn’t even use leading scorer Casey Powell or first-string goalie Erik Miller.

     The Americans had to play the quarter-final game because of an 11-10 round-robin loss to the Iroquois Nationals earlier in the week, while Canada’s players, who got a bye after their 3-0 romp through their robin-robin pool, got in a rigorous practice.

     Paul Rabil led the onslaught against the Aussies with six goals, Sean Morris got four, Drew Westervelt, Kevin Buchanan, Brendan Mundorf and Matt Alrich three each, Greg Downing two and Joe Smith, Mitch Belisle, Bill McGlone, Kyle Hartzell and Chris Schiller one each.

     Ginny Capicchioni played the first half in the U.S. nets in making her second tournament appearance as the only woman to ever participate in a world indoor championship and Jake Henhawk played the second half.

     It’s a confident American squad that now goes up against two-time defending champion Canada.

     “We wanted to come here to win the gold and we know we have to go through Canada to do that,’’ said Powell. “We’re disappointed with our loss to the Iroquois but this is a matchup we knew we were going to have to face sooner or later.

     “They have a great team. They seem focused and we’re going to have to play our very best game to beat them.’’

     The Nationals, a perfect 3-0 in the round robin, play the other Friday semifinal against the Thursday night England-Czech Republic quarter-final winner.

     Miller has been out of the NLL for a couple of years but he has looked sharp and is familiar with all of the Canadian forwards he’ll be facing.

     “I’ve played against them before,’’ he said. “It’s going to be tough.

     “They’re great shooters in a great offence but I’ve got a great defence in front of me. I need to make the saves I’m supposed to make and I need to make a couple of saves I’m not supposed to make.’’

     Canada defeated the United States handily during the round-robin phase of the last tournament, in Halifax in 2007, but this is a much better U.S. team, and Canadian head coach Ed Comeau is well aware of this reality.

     “The calibre of indoor play in the U.S. is phenomenal now,’’ said Comeau. “We think they have a very good team here, one that is certainly capable of winning in this tournament.

     “They are very athletic. Casey Powell, Drew Westervelt and Brendan Mundorf are very creative players out the front end and are capable of putting up big numbers against any team. We know we have to control them, keep them from having big nights.

     “Defensively, they’ve got a lot of good athletes _ Paul Rabil running the floor, Chris Schiller, Jarrett Park, and a lot of other good defensive players who are able to take off and create transition. We’ve got our hands full and we’ll have to be prepared. We’re going to have to make sure we stick to our principles and game plan to be successful.’’

     He says the matchup will be good for the sport.

     “There’s an indoor lacrosse history between Canada and the U.S. dating back to the first international competition, the Heritage Cup of 2002, so we’re looking forward to a great game. We’re going to have to be at our best to beat them.’’

     Captain Colin Doyle says he’ll treat the game as an NLL game since all the participants other than Miller are NLL players.

    “Everybody’s roll will be a little different here and everybody has to focus on doing his job,’’ said Doyle. “If everybody does his job right, we’ll get a solid team performance that will be tough to stop.

     “There’s a lot at stake and we don’t expect them to roll over by any means. They are going to be ready to play and play hard. It’s going to be a great challenge. I think our guys are ready for it.’’

     Brodie Merrill will have his eye on Powell all the way.

     “Casey is not somebody you can shut down,’’ said Merrill. “You just try to check him hard and make him earn anything he does. You try to limit his chances as much as you can. He’s so skilled and creative with the ball and quick and athletic, he’s tough to match up on so we’re going to play a team system to try and shut him down because one guy can’t do it.’’

     Dan Dawson is a teammate of Powell with the NLL’s Boston Blazers.

     “Casey is the best player I’ve ever played with,’’ said Dawson. “It was a joy playing with him in Boston and I wish him all the best but we’re going to be going as hard as we can. He’s a true competitor so I know he’ll be doing the same.’’

     U.S. defenceman Matt Alrich has faced Doyle, Dawson and the rest of Canada’s forwards often in the NLL.

     “We have tons of respect for those guys,’’ he said. “They’re great players and we’re looking forward to a good test.’’

      John Grant Jr. will be one of Canada’s big weapons and U.S. captain Chris Schiller knows him well. They were NLL teammates in Rochester for many years.

     “There’s really no secret to stopping him,’’ said Schiller. “You can’t do it with one guy.

     “You’ve got to have a whole team defensive scheme. He’s the best player in the world. We’re going to think about it tonight, see what we want to do, but, again, it’s not all about John Grant on that team. They have a whole roster full of superstars so we’ve got to game plan for everybody.’’

     There are a multitude of examples of players who are teammates in the NLL but who are opponents in this tournament. U.S. defenceman Kyle Hartzell is a Washington teammate of Canadian forward Rhys Duch.

      “We’ve just got to go out and play hard lacrosse for 60 minutes,’’ Hartzell replied. “We can’t let up for one minute. They’re going to get all we’ve got and we’re going to get all they’ve got so it’s going to be a really tough game. It’s going to be a battle.

      “The only reason we’re out here is because we believe we can win. We wish we had won that game against the Iroquois. We came up a goal short. We’re looking past that now. We have to face the Canadians a day sooner than we’d have liked to because of that but we wouldn’t be out here if we didn’t think we could beat them. That’s why we put together this team and we’re going to give them hell.’’

      U.S. forward Kevin Buchanan will be up against fellow Boston Blazer Kyle Rubisch, a Team Canada defenceman.

     “It’ll be exciting,’’ said Buchanan. “Rubisch is a great player.

     “I’ve got a good scout on him though after playing with him in practice and in games every weekend. He’s a great kid. I’m very excited about playing against him.’’

     The loss to the Iroquois has certainly spurred on the Americans.

     “We’ve still got a bitter taste in our mouths over the loss to the Iroquois but we’re trying to get past that,’’ said Schiller. “We’re still not where we want to be but we’re getting there.’’

     Ryan says his players will have to play a near-perfect game to get past Canada.

     “(Thursday’s) game was obviously a bit lopsided but we’ve been moving the ball well and we’ve come together and played some pretty good defence so I’m happy where we’re at,’’ he said. “(Friday) will be the true test. We’re going to give it our all and see what happens.’’


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