Swarm defenseman Rory Smith and Jon Sullivan helped Team Canada defeat The Iroqouis Nationals 13-6 in the Gold Medal Game of the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships (WILC) this past Saturday. Canada wins its third straight championship, winning both previous events in 2003 & 2007. Team USA took third place.
by Neil Stevens
Matt Vinc was outstanding in goal and Jordan Hall, Dan Dawson, Shawn Evans, Josh Sanderson and Rhys Duch scored two goals each as Canada defeated the Iroquois Nationals 13-6 to win its third straight world indoor lacrosse championship Saturday night.
Brodie Merrill, Colin Doyle and John Grant Jr. added single goals as Canada improved to 17-0 in world championship indoor play. It won the inaugural tournament in 2003 in southern Ontario and triumphed again in 2007 in Halifax.
Cory Bomberry scored twice and Dean Hill, Roger Vyse, Jeff Shattler and Cody Jamieson once each for the Nationals, who had to settle for silver for the third straight time.
"Credit to the Iroquois," said Ed Comeau, Canada's head coach. "They never quit. They played hard and they're a great team. We gained momentum early and kept it going then after that point it was a chase and we felt that if we could control the ball and possessions we'd put ourselves in a position to win the game."
Overtime was needed to quell the Nationals four years ago but the writing was on the wall in this one long before halftime. Vinc and Canada's defence were playing too well to let this one slide.
"Matt just left off where he's been the last couple of years _NLL goaltender of the year _and he certainly played great tonight. When we needed the big save he made it for us. It was great for him and our defense to hold a great shooting team like the Iroquois to six goals. It's a huge compliment to our whole squad and Matt was front and center in that."
Doyle was ecstatic. "It feels good to win the gold," said the captain. "We earned it. We were a great team. There's no doubt about that. Our roster was stacked with talent. This was a team that came here for a purpose and was focused and driven. It was an unbelievable experience with these guys."
Nationals coach Duane Jacobs lamented the hole his team found itself in at halftime. "It was a tough one," said Jacobs. "I think we lost the game in the middle of the second quarter when they went on a six-goal run. We couldn't recover."
Jacobs rued the lost chances. "We hit a lot of pipes," he said. "If those ones would have dropped maybe it's a different, little tighter game. But I'm proud of the guys. We never quit, we only allowed them four goals in the second half."
Casey Powell of the United States, which won bronze, was named tournament MVP. The Nationals scored first in the game for gold. Rory Smith was serving a major penalty for a high hit off ball on Shattler when Bomberry whipped in a sidearm bullet during a power play in the sixth minute. Smith heaved a sigh of relief when his teammates relinquished only the one goal while he sat in the box.
Hall put Canada on the board when he slithered around his check, faked a shot and fired the ball from in close into a top corner of the Iroquois net. Vinc made several big saves before Hall struck again. He put Canada up 2-1 by diving from behind the net to swing the ball behind Thompson late in the first quarter.
Canada raced ahead with four goals in the first five minutes of the second quarter. Dawson converted a long pass from Brodie Merrill, who scored himself when Pat Merrill intercepted a pass and fed his younger brother for a breakaway. Evans struck on a fast break and Sanderson fired one in off a pass from behind the net from Colin Doyle. It was suddenly 6-1.
The Nationals then lost starting goalie Mike Thompson when teammate Manuel Johnson hit Pat Merrill from behind into Thompson, who needed support under both arms to go to his team's dressing room favouring his left leg. Angus Goodleaf took his place.
Hill made it 6-2, and Canada got the next three. Sanderson scored with a bouncer in close to the crease, Duch worked a give-and-go play with Doyle to beat Goodleaf and Dawson fired in a long overhand bouncer to make it 9-2. That's how it stood at halftime.
Two minutes into the third, Grant set up Doyle for the 10-2 goal, and Vyse responded with a long sidearm shot to cut Canada's lead back to seven, 10-3. Shattler made it 10-4 but there would be no rally, not the way Canada's defensemen were pushing attackers to the perimeter.
Duch and Grant fired in bouncers and it was 12-4 at the end of the third quarter. Jamieson scored early in the fourth and Evans came right back with a shot through Goodleaf's legs. Canada played keepaway most of the last five minutes. Bomberry scored with 59 seconds left and that was it.