Sandwiched somewhere between three Team USA wins and two close loses by the Haudenosaunee, I experienced a World Championship transformational moment. Sometimes this event is less about the action on the field and more about the gathering of international participants and the games global advocates.
Frank Kelly of FCA Lacrosse introduced me to a pair of international lacrosse pioneers. Kelly is doing incredible work here in San Diego alongside a band of 30 or so players who are staying in the dorms in San Diego and scrimmaging and practicing with international teams each day. They are the “how can we help?” group on the ground here in California. Often times these scrimmages morph into coaching sessions with the less advanced foreign nation.
Frank is well dialed into international growth and has tentacles on new hot spots for lacrosse emergence. He has developed a relationship with Vova from Ukraine and Fred from Kenya.
This photo and the corresponding conversation represents the spirit and meaning of the world championships. Vova (on the left) told me he started lacrosse in the Ukraine with one stick, two lacrosse balls and YouTube videos. He learned how to play wall ball by watching American videos. He’s gradually built the game in Ukraine and had group practices for young players this spring. They play outside during the day and sleep in bunkers at night because of the bombing.
On the right side of the photo is Fred Osore of Kenya who’s introducing lacrosse info middle schools in his nation. He feels that lacrosse can be most beneficial and impactful if tied to schools. Many nations (England & Australia for example) currently are club based in terms of introduction and their growth has stagnated.
I will stay in contact with these men. Frank is visiting Kenya in August with a group from FCA. I’d like to help. Perhaps an equipment drive for sticks and gloves would be helpful. We are discussing how we can serve them.
World Championships about Growing the Game
Saturday night in front of a robust crowd of 5,600, veteran St John’s attack-man Kieran McArdle chipped in five points while FOGO TD Ierlan was 14-for-14 on faceoffs as Team USA fended off a legitimate challenge by the Haudenosaunee to survive 9-7. The atmosphere was incredible as the sun set at Torero Stadium.
Friday night Matt Rambo was the star, setting the tempo with nine different scorers as Team USA topped Australia 12-3. USA led 10-2 at half and didn’t play sharp on offense in the final 30 minutes.
Seven points from Rob Pannell triggered an offense with improved efficiency while the lockdown defense nearly delivered a shutout in the USA’s 18-1 victory over England on Sunday afternoon. The USA defense has been stellar with Jesse Bernhardt, JT Giles Harris, Jack Rowlett, Michael Ehrhardt, Danny Logan and Ryan Terefenko all playing at a world class level. They are winning matchups and making great slide decisions. Their off-ball leverage and execution during two man games has been nearly flawless. Goalies Blaze Riorden and Jack Kelly have been solid, not spectacular, as the defense has limited their exposure. Very impressive stuff from DC Joe Amplo and his assistant Charley Toomey of Loyola.
With the England win, the U.S. (4-0) clinched the #1 seed and earns a bye to Wednesday’s quarterfinals, two days off. That’s highly beneficial for a team that’s nicked up – Matt Dunn, Tom Schreiber and Michael Ehrhardt have all been nursing injuries. Hopefully Team USA brass cuts the group loose in San Diego for some beach time, golf and tacos. Life is too short to sit around the dorms playing cards all day.
Monday is the final day of pool play. All 2023 World Lacrosse Championship games can be seen on E+. The Quarterfinal on Wednesday June 28 is televised live on ESPNU at 7pm. Both semifinals will be shown at 5pm and 8pm on Thursday June 29 on ESPN2. The 2023 Championship will be broadcast on Saturday July 1 at 4pm on ESPN2. Anish Shroff, Chris Cotter, Paul Carcaterra and I will have the assignment from SnapDragon Stadium. If you live in Southern California please check it out.
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