The simple fact is Canada has won two of the last three FIL World Titles. The Canadian side was the better team Saturday night in Denver, outplaying, out game planning and out hustling their American counterparts.
Canada used a very patient attack and took the air out of the ball in the first half holding a 27 to 13 minute advantage in time of possession. In addition outshot the USA 17-11 in the first half on the way to a 3-1 halftime lead. Canada also held the GB advantage in the first half 18-8. Canada just seemed to be more motivated and got more than their fair share of 50/50 balls.
There were a few key factors that really put the Canadians over the edge. First, faceoff and goalie play. Chris Eck and Beast Gurenlian dominated throughout the course of the week, but as advertised Geoff Snider more than held his own. In the boxscore it was a stalemate with the final tally being 7 F/O wins for both teams. The US was never able to go on runs and string goals together. Tourney MVP Dillon Ward outplayed Jesse Schwartzman who gambled a couple of times leaving his crease and was burned by an opportunistic Kevin Crowley. Ward was very solid not making mistakes and saving a lot of outside American shots. For the game he made 10 saves with a 67% save percentage. They had the hot goaltender eh.
The USA was outcoached as well. Coach Randy Mearns and his staff came in with a plan to shorten the game and it worked to perfection. It reminded me of Superbowl XXV when the Giants controlled the game on the Bills.
They mixed in some zone defense minimizing the dodging athletes of Team USA. When they weren’t in a zone they showed impeccable timing on double teams.
The choice of putting former UDenver two way midfielder Jeremy Noble at attack behind the cage was out of the box and worked out extremely well. Cam Holding playing a bigger role on offense also paid dividends. It also has to be said playing for two fallen teammates can’t be underestimated. I stumbled across a feature from the 2010 tourney and Brodie Merrill was speaking about how much Chris Sanderson meant to him, the town of Orangeville and Canada lacrosse in general.
Conversely, Team USA made some tactical errors. Head Coach Richie Meade and Defensive Coordinator Dave Pietramala should second guess themselves as to why Canada was so comfortable in the offensive zone. Team USA as exhibited in the second half had the athleticism to make Canada uncomfortable. Paul Carcaterra was reporting early on in the game that Petro was working the officials for Canadian stalling. Here is an idea: go out and extend your defensive pressure with your superior athletes and get the ball on the ground and create transition.
Now for the elephant in the room, where was Paul Rabil? For someone who is the face of the sport and considered the best player in the game he was invisible. A shooting performance of 0-4, and zero assists in the final needs to be pointed out. I pointed out Rabil’s shortcoming in MLL postseason in a December post. This just adds fuel to the fire that Rabil is not coming up big on the big stage in recent seasons. Hey Paul: You need to play better and produce in the title game!
For his efforts though the great #99 was named midfielder of the World Games. Really? I thought Iroquios National midfielder Jeremy Thompson was much more deserving. He actually played both ends of the field and took many faceoff’s.
Outside of Rob Pannell, Kevin Levielle, Jesse Bernhardt and Tucker Durkin I thought the US was a major disappointment. Leading the way was Max Seibald and his 0 for 6 shooting night. I know Quint Kessenich always points out Max is a great athlete and has NFL speed. But, generally he can’t hit the broadside of a barn and he took some very questionable outside shots that were merely passes to Dillon Ward.
Bottomline is Canada had a better team and outplayed the Team USA. Back to the drawing board.
Photo courtesy US Lacrosse