Team Australia Day 9 and 10 at the WILC

Posted: September 29, 2015 by Paul Rai in General Lacrosse

The second last day of the tournament saw Australia meet the Czech Republic in the 7/8 game. The Czechs have not had a great tournament falling out of the Blue Division after a couple disappointing losses. This was our last game of the World Championships and I know the team wanted to end it off on a great note.

The game started off really well for us as we were able to score some goals. The offense was clicking and we were able to create some good offensive chances. On the backend we were doing a good job, but whenever we scored we gave up a goal. Things went south for us in the second half as the team could not get a stop. The Czechs scored easily and we could not respond.

By the end of the game the grind of the tournament started to take its toll on the team.  Three weeks of lacrosse, eight tournament games, several exhibition games, multiple training sessions and miles of travel caught up to the team. The well was dry. The players were trying, but the energy was sapped from the team. This is a team that relies on certain players to carry a lot of weight to keep the team afloat. The top teams have a deep roster of players that can be interchanged and the team never loses a step. The less experienced teams, such as Australia, rely on their leaders more. This is the nature of the beast and you could tell the team was playing on fumes.

Game ended in a loss to the Czech Republic and finished in eighth place out of 13 teams. There were some surprise teams, such as Israel and Ireland. These teams relied on North American based players to bolster their lineup and provide the team with the box lacrosse leadership to be successful. Every single player on the Australian team, except for Tristan, is Australian or lives in Australia. That is the one thing that was evident on this team. The players are from Australia and trying to build the box program within that country. That’s a tough thing to do with the limited facilities, but these players have a deep passion for the game. I have the greatest respect for this group of players, spending their own money to represent their country in a sport that is far from the mainstream in Australia. You need to love their desire to play box lacrosse. I found myself admiring their dedication and commitment to the game. It also made me feel so lucky that I have such an easy access to the sport in Canada. When I tell the Australians that I teach box lacrosse at Vimy Ridge they are in awe that such a program even exists. I do consider myself lucky.

I do need to recognize and thank the coaches and staff out the Australian team; Bob Carter, Alan Lewer, Greg Mollison, Adrian Burns and Ian Webb. All of the gentlemen sacrificed so much to be part of this team and it was obvious they love the indoor game and they love their country. They wanted only what was best for the team and they worked so hard to put the team together. So much work took place before I even arrived. The organization and preparation of the team was evident in all the details. I can only thank them for allowing me to participate with the team and be a part of the experience. It was the best sporting experience I have been a part of and it would not have happened without the Australian staff allowing me inside their team. I will always be thankful for that opportunity.

The final day of the tournament was the Bronze and Gold medal games in the Carrier Dome. A rink was built in the middle of the football field and the scene was spectacular. The USA won the Bronze medal easily over Israel in the warm up game, but virtually everyone was there for the Iroquois/Canada game. Over 10,000 people were in the dome for the final of World Championship and it was a great game. The majority of fans were cheering for Iroquois and they played hard, but in the end Canada won the game 12-8. There were some extremely exciting moments of the game that got fans were out of their seats. It came down to the Canadian goalie, Matt Vinc. He was the difference maker as he made so many remarkable saves. The Iroquois defense matched up with Canada and the Iroquois offense was better. But Vinc stood tall and some bad turnovers turned in favor of Canada. It was disappointing to the majority of the fans, but it was clear that the game of indoor lacrosse is better today than it was two weeks ago.

The Onondaga nation put on a show of a lifetime. They invested their money to increase awareness of their sport and their traditions. The entire event provided some much more than the sport. It provided educational events and opportunities for people to learn more about the Haudenosaunee. The organizers did just a phenomenal job to ensure that people who attended were going to enjoy their experience. For me  I can not express enough how superb the entire event was. The biggest regret for me was that Aidan was not able to join us for the event due to his school commitments. It would have been awesome to have have him with us.

Leaving Syracuse was sad for me. Sad because I knew it was over. The euphoria and excitement of the event was over and I knew as I drove out of the city I had been part of something special. I met some great Australians, I saw some great lacrosse, my oldest was able to represent the county of his grandfather, I was able to coach at a World Championship and I saw lacrosse go home to where it was born. I only hope of more great lacrosse experiences ahead. Four years in Langley anyone?


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