Iroquois Nationals Edge U.S. 11-10 to Win Their Group


 From Canadian Men’s Indoor Lacrosse Team

 Monday, May 23, 2011


     PRAGUE _ The Iroquois Nationals are on target for another appearance in the final of the world indoor lacrosse tournament.

    The Nationals defeated the United States 11-10 to finish round-robin play in their group with a perfect 3-0 record Monday, earning a bye to the Friday semifinals.

    Cody Jamieson scored four goals, Cory Bomberry and Roger Vyse got two each and Jeff Shattler, Andy Secore and Dean Hill chipped in with one each.

     Casey Powell supplied four U.S. goals, Drew Westervelt got two and Matt Alrich, Brian Langtry, Sean Morris and Paul Rabil added one each.

     The Nationals overcame a 7-4 halftime deficit. A major penalty to American defenceman Jack Reid late in the second quarter aided their comeback as they got power-play goals from Jamieson and Vyse to get back into the game.

     “I’m really proud of my players,’’ said head coach Duane Jacobs. “Things almost got unravelled in the first half.

     “I was a bit disappointed in that but we were able to rally after halftime. I’m proud the way just focused on lacrosse and battled back. We showed a lot of heart.’’

      The Americans now have to play the third-place finisher in the group Thursday with the winner of that one advancing to the semis.

     In the other group, Canada and England are both 2-0 heading into their clash Tuesday to decide first place. If Canada gets past England as expected and the U.S. also wins its next game, there’ll be a Canada-U.S. semifinal and an Iroquois-England semifinal.

     Nationals goaltender Mike Thompson was once again a determining factor.

     “It was a great battle,’’ said Thompson. “We were able to pull it off. We played more our game in the second half. We settled down and didn’t let them get us excited.’’

     He’s optimistic about his team’s chances.

     “These last couple of games we’re just coming together as a team,’’ he said. “This was a better test for us than the last two games. We’re planning on taking the next step.’’

     Said Bomberry: “Mike is one of the best goaltenders in the tournament and I think he’s going to take us all the way.’’

     Yet another Iroquois power-play goal, this one by Bomberry, tied it 8-8 late in the third quarter. He came off the bench to take a pass and fire an overhand shot into the far bottom corner of the net behind goalie Jake Henhawk, who replaced Erik Miller after the earlier power-play goals.

     “It was a late man off the bench play,’’ said Bomberry. “That’s the shot I was looking for _ low, glove side. There was nothing there but net.’’

     “He’s got a rocket,’’ Thompson said of the shot.

     Miller was sent back in and Henhawk returned to the U.S. bench.

     Smith was looking ahead to the semifinals as he headed to the dressing room.

     “Three more days,’’ he shouted to his teammates.

     He was impressed by the Americans.

     “It seems like the United States is getting better,’’ he said. “They’ve got more players in the box game now and they’re improving every tournament. They’re big, strong and athletic.’’

     Everybody agreed that the extended power play was the turning point.

     “We knew we had an opportunity to turn the game around and we took advantage of it,’’ said Smith.

     “The team we came here with, we’ve got a lot of enthusiasm to want to win,’’ said Bomberry.

     The Americans had hoped to win the group, get the bye and avoid Canada until the final, but the Nationals ruined that plan.

     “They’re a great team,’’ said captain Chris Schiller. “We battled hard but we got some unfortunate penalties. That five-minute penalty really hurt us. We were up by three at that point. We went two men down and against a team like that they really hurt you. But it was a great battle, a great, great lacrosse game.

     “I’m sure we’re going to have to play Canada now to get through to the gold-medal game. We’re going to get better, no doubt about it.’’

     He says he’s confident his team can give Canada a serious challenge if such a semi transpires.

     “Absolutely,’’ said Schiller. “They’re the best team in the world and it’s going to be a big measuring stick for this team.’’

     Team USA was right with the Nationals at full strength, said Rabil.

     “We’ve obviously got to cut down on the errors,’’ he said.

     A Canada-U.S. semi wasn’t yet on his mind.

     “We’ve got to get past our quarter-final first,’’ he said. “We’ve just got to make sure we win our next game.’’

     Coach Tom Ryan didn’t like the one-sided call that turned the momentum. Reid went off but no Nationals player was penalized after a violent exchange in front of the Iroquois net.

     “Things were going our way and we were up 7-4,’’ said Ryan. “There’s a melee in front and somehow we came out with a five minute and they came out with nothing. We had one guy with a helmet off and needing stitches and another guy on the ground. It was a tough one to take.

     “But we battled on. I’m proud of the guys. They gave everything they had. The tournament is not over. We’ve got at least one more game. We’ve come a long way in three games, which is the bottom line. Today was an important day in U.S. box lacrosse history. Unfortunately we came out on the short end of it but it shows how far we’ve come and I couldn’t be more proud of how the guys worked. We’ll get ‘em next time.’’


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