USA vs. Canada for 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championships title game on Saturday at 9pm ET. (Photo: Scott McCall/US Lacrosse)
The United States and Canada will once again go for gold with the 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championships title game on Saturday at 9pm ET live on ESPNU. With over 20 NLL players in action, the teams punched their tickets on Thursday in the World Lax semifinals as Team USA defeated Australia 22-3 while Canada advanced past the Iroquois Nationals with a 12-6 win.
In the first semifinal game, the U.S. improved to a perfect 6-0 in the tournament with the win and controlled play from the start. The U.S. scored the first seven goals of the game and limited Australia to just 11 shots in the contest.
David Lawson had a team-high six points on four goals and two assists and Brendan Mundorf, Paul Rabil, Max Seibald and Kevin Leveille each scored three goals. Once again, the U.S. dominated possession time by controlling the faceoff battle. Chris Eck won 13-of-14 and Greg Gurenlian won 13-of-15 for the United States. Matt Diver, Nigel Morton and Anson Carter all scored for Australia who had a strong showing in the tournament and previously almost took the Iroquois to the brink in the quarterfinal.
In the second World Lax semifinal featuring over 20 NLL players, Canada fell behind the Iroquois Nationals 4-1 after one quarter, but then clamped down defensively and went on to win 12-6 to advance.
The Iroquois went scoreless for a stretch of over 46 minutes from the 2:05 mark of the first quarter until the 15:23 mark of the fourth quarter. During that time, Canada went on a eight-goal run to take a 9-4 lead.
Curtis Dickson scored three of those goals to break the game open with a natural hat trick and finished with a game-high four goals. Geoff Snider, one of the stars when Canada upset the U.S. for gold in 2006, was also a key contributor by winning 16-of-21 faceoffs.
All 12 goals scored by Canada came off the sticks of National Lacrosse League players including tallies from Dickson (4), Snider, Mark Matthews, Zack Greer, Kevin Crowley, Jordan MacIntosh, Jordan Hall, Cam Flint and Jordan Hall. NLL Rookie of the Year finalist Dillon Ward made eight saves in net for Canada.
It was a hard-fought win for Team Canada, who outscored the Nationals 9-2 in the second half. Rochester Knighthawks goalie Matt Vinc, who plays long-pole defense for the Canadians, was part of a lock-down defensive effort that held the vaunted Iroquois offense scoreless for over 46 minutes. One of his priorities was holding 2014 NLL scoring leader and Knighthawks teammate Cody Jamieson in check. The defense was also tasked with limiting the chances of dangerous scorers Lyle and Miles Thompson, Randy Staats and Knighthawks star Craig Point.
“We were happy with the way we finished the game. I thought we did a great job playing team defense and helping out against their big stars,” said Vinc.
Team Canada Head Coach and former Knighthawk Randy Mearns was impressed with the play of his veteran defenseman, who he coached collegiately at Canisius.
“Matt has played tremendous the entire tournament. He is relentless and tenacious,” said Mearns. “As one of our captains, he has provided a great deal of leadership, the will to win and heart.”
On Thursday, Vinc played against three of his Rochester teammates in Jamieson, Point and Sid Smith. The quartet are key members of the three-peat National Lacrosse League champions. After winning a league-record third straight Champion’s Cup in 2014, the NLL named Jamieson and Vinc two of the three finalists for the MVP Award. Vinc is also in the running to win his league-record fourth NLL Goaltender of the Year honor.
Field lacrosse fans got to see some of Vinc’s footwork and agility in the first showdown against the Iroquois. The St. Catharines, Ontario native positioned himself in goal to make two saves to assist goalie Dillon Ward.
“It happens so fast. You just try and do whatever to help the team win,” said Vinc. “It was just a reaction.”
After an exciting two weeks in Commerce City, Colo., Vinc will now play for his second World Lacrosse Championship gold medal. “Vno” was a member of the past two national teams, and won gold in 2006 against the Americans. After losing the rematch in Manchester, England in 2010, the Canadian captain is even more motivated to play the United States.
“It has been a long four years. We have the opportunity we have been waiting for,” he said. “We have a tough opponent so hopefully we will be up for the challenge.”
Lyle Thompson led the Iroquois with two goals and an assist, but all came in the first quarter. Canada's Dillon Roy drew the assignment on Thompson most of the night and was able to keep him in check. Randy Staats also had two goals for the Nationals.
Taking place just once every four years, the title game marks the fifth-straight time the two rival nations have met in the final. This year's tournament featured a record 38 teams at the 10-day event in Commerce City, Colorado.
Australia will play the Iroquois in the third place game on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a game that will be show on ESPN3.
NLL players on Team Canada
Kyle Rubisch (Edmonton Rush)
Jesse Gamble (Toronto Rock)
Brodie Merrill (Philadelphia Wings)
Cam Flint (Minnesota Swarm)
Cameron Holding (Colorado Mammoth)
Kevin Crowley (Philadelphia Wings)
Adam Jones (Colorado Mammoth)
Jordan MacIntosh (Minnesota Swarm)
Geoff Snider (Calgary Roughnecks)
Dillon Ward (Colorado Mammoth)
Mark Matthews (Edmonton Rush)
Jordan Hall (Philadelphia Wings)
Jason Noble (Minnesota Swarm)
Matt Vinc (Rochester Knighthawks)
Curtis Dickson (Calgary Roughnecks)
Zack Greer (Edmonton Rush)
NLL players on Iroquois Nationals
Cody Jamieson (Rochester Knighthawks)
Sid Smith (Rochester Knighthawks)
Brett Bucktooth (Vancouver Stealth)
Jeremy Thompson (Edmonton Rush)
Jeff Shattler (Calgary Roughnecks)
Craig Point (Rochester Knighthawks)
NLL players on Team USA
Mitch Belisle (Minnesota Swarm)
Garrett Thul (Philadelphia Wings)