Canada pushed USA to the wall

COQUITLAM B.C. – It was a heartbreaking evening for Canada at the 2016 FIL U-19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championship, after Team USA capped off a thrilling second half comeback with a goal in the dying seconds to steal a victory from Canada and take home the gold medal, winning by a score of 13 to 12.

The Canadians looked to be in complete control, leading 8-2, after a dominant first half that saw them score at will thanks to some patience while clearing the zone and creative offensive sets. The U.S. squad, known for their solid defensive game, allowed more goals in the first half (8) than they had in any other complete game all tournament.

A second quarter hat-trick from Tre Leclaire (Surrey, B.C.), along with a pair of goals from Tanner Cook (Courtice, Ont.), helped Canada build their lead. Riley Curtis(Brampton, Ont.) made the score sheet with a goal and two assists, while Ryan Lanchbury (Burlington, Ont.) and Ethan Walker (Peterborough, Ont.) added singles.

The over 3,000 fans packed into Coquitlam Town Centre Park were watching a much different Team Canada than the team they saw during a deflating 12-5 loss in the tournament opener at the hands of their rivals from the U.S.

However, things started to unravel in the second half, as a determined Team USA began mounting a comeback, one that their opponents would not be able to withstand.

“They got going on the face-offs,” said Canadian head coach Taylor Wray. “We were good there in first half, but in the second they got a few in a row and that kind of swung momentum their way.”

After tying the game up 12-12 at the 17:25 mark of the fourth quarter, the Americans would win the following face-off, giving them possession with only a few minutes remaining. As they began to cycle the ball in the offensive zone, it was clear that they were trying to kill off as much time as they could, willing to hold onto the ball for a final shot attempt, one that would hopefully put them in the lead and not give their opponents enough time to respond.

The game plan worked to perfection, as Ryan Conrad cut through a pair of defenders in front of the Canadian net to receive a pass from behind it, and he made no mistake, burying a quick-stick goal past the keeper. The United States now had a 13-12 lead, with only 0:08 seconds left on the clock, a shocking turn of events.

It was a devastating loss for Canada, who looked poised to unseat the powerhouse Americans as U19 world champions for the first time in the tournament’s history. Instead, the U.S. captured their eighth-straight title at an event that they have yet to lose since its inception in 1988.

While the Canadian players were understandably dejected, their coach was happy with their effort.

“I’m really proud of this group,” said Wray. “I don’t think many people gave us a chance in this game, so to get the start they did and be in control for most of the game was really impressive. They should be proud of themselves.”

The win also marked the first Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) world championship that Team USA has won since their women’s team brought home a gold medal from the Women’s World Cup in 2013. Since that time, Canada has dominated the international stage, holding title of world champion in the men’s field, men’s indoor and women’s field (U19) disciplines.

By all accounts, the organizing committee in Coquitlam, B.C. put on an incredible event, and fan support for the host team was tremendous, something the Canadian head coach was thankful for.

“It was a tremendous atmosphere and an exciting game and that’s what you hope for in a world championship,” said Wray. “I cannot thank our fans enough.”

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