SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Canada rallied to score the last four goals and defeat the Iroquois Nationals 11-9 in its world indoor lacrosse championship opener Sunday.
Mark Matthews scored five goals and Shawn Evans, Zack Greer, Curtis Dickson, Chris Corbeil, Dan Dawson and Jordan MacIntosh one each. Aaron Bold was at his best in the fourth quarter to earn the goaltending victory.
“The game certainly could have gone either way,” said head coach Ed Comeau. “Credit to the Iroquois. They were excellent. They played hard. It was a great game.”
Scoring for the Nationals were Hiana Thompson, with two, Miles Thompson, Lyle Thompson, Wenster Green, Craig Point, Johnny Powless, Randy Staats and Jeff Shattler.
The Nationals scored first, jumped to a 4-1 lead, and led 5-3 after one quarter despite being outshot 15-9. It was 6-4 at halftime with the shots counter showing the Iroquois with a 15-9 edge in the second.
“They came out real strong,” said Comeau. “We weren’t ready for that pace.”
The Nationals led 8-4 in the fifth minute of the third quarter when Canada rallied with three goals in one minute 21 seconds Matthews scored on a power play at 11:14 and got another at 11:55, and Dickson connected with one of his patented fadeaway sidearm shots at 12:35. Canada had a 12-9 shots advantage in the third and had moved within 8-7.
“We settled in and focused on sticking with our game plan, playing good D, moving the ball and getting solid efforts in transition.”
Hiana Thompson made it 9-7 1:44 into the fourth, Corbeil scooped a loose ball in Iroquois territory and scored on a breakaway at 1:54 and Matthews tied it 9-9 from the side of the crease at 3:07.
Shattler then put a ball behind Bold but it did not count as a goal because the Iroquois were caught with too many men on the floor and penalized.
Dawson then beat Angus Goodleaf with a low shot from a distance at 8:28. MacIntosh evaded a check for a clear path to the net to score at 9:03 to cap the comeback.
The Iroquois had a 13-12 shots edge in the fourth, while Canada was up 48-46 at game’s end.
“All the credit to Aaron Bold at the end,” said Corbeil. “He locked things down in the second half. What an effort out of him.”
Matthews was awesome.
“That was our first game together as a group of nine (on offence),” he said. “We didn’t panic when we were down 8-4. They’re bound to go in when you get 50 shots given we have guys who shoot the ball really well. We’re excited for next game.”
Bold was victimized early with the fluidity of the Iroquois offence.
“They spread us out and got looks inside,” he said. “They’re an amazing team. This tournament is not going to be easy moving forward.”
Iroquois coach Rich Kilgour was okay with the decision on the Shattler goal during the post-game news conference.
“It was the right call,” he said. “If we’d won the game on that I would have been a tainted result.”
In the end, “We had a flat five minutes and they made us pay,” he said. “We know we can play with them. We just have to finish it off.”
NOTES: The defending champions improved to 18-0 in all-time world indoor play . . . Canada did not dress G Matt Vinc, D Billy Dee Smith, D Brad Self, F Adam Joes and F Dhane Smith . . . Goodleaf is an NLL back to Vinc in Rochester but he played like a first-stringer . . . Canada plays the Czech Republic, a 14-7 loser to the U.S. Sunday, at 7:30 p.m. Monday . . . The Iroquois had opened with a 13-9 win over the United States on Friday. They are off Monday.
By Neil Stevens for Team Canada Lacrosse. Photo by Larry Palumbo.