History made by 2014 Iroquois Nationals

DENVER, CO – History was made by the Iroquois Nationals at the World Lacrosse Championship in Denver, Saturday when, for the first time ever, a wholly Haudenosaunee Sr. men’s sports team medaled at a major international sporting event.

“I expected nothing less than for this team to come here and win,” said Lyle Thompson, star of the tournament for the Nationals. “We beat Australia in the round robin and I didn’t expect to lose to them today. We’re competing at the highest level and I think it just gets better from here for the Iroquois Nationals.”

Organizers of these games have had no trouble recognizing the Haudenosaunee as a legitimate Nation, even if Canada attempts to claim Haudenosaunee people as Canadian citizens.

International lacrosse championships are governed by the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL), which was formed in August 2008 after the merger of the International Lacrosse Federation (ILF) and the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Associations (IFWLA). The FIL is responsible for the Men’s World Lacrosse Championship, World Indoor Lacrosse Championship, Women’s Lacrosse World Cup, and both the Men and Women’s Under-19 World Lacrosse Championships. These events are held every four years.

International competition has been a tradition in lacrosse since 1860, when the Montreal Lacrosse Club competed against a team of Caughnawaga and St. Regis Native Americans before the Prince of Wales, who went on to become King Edward VII.

Lacrosse was an Olympic exhibition sport at the 1904 games in St. Louis, the 1908 games in London, the 1928 games in Amsterdam, the 1932 games in Los Angeles and the 1948 games in London.
The quadrennial men’s lacrosse world championships began in 1974 following a successful international tournament in Toronto in 1967.

It wasn’t until 1990 that the federation accepted the Iroquois Nationals as a distinct national team and allowed the inventors of the game into the highest level of field lacrosse competition, played every four years.
They finished fifth that year in Perth, Australia behind USA, Canada, Australia, and England.

In 1994, in Manchester, England the Iroquois Nationals again finished fifth but ahead of Japan who had fielded a team for the first time.

There was a boom in popularity of the sport around the world over the next four years and in 1998, in Baltimore, Maryland, once again the USA finished on top, but the Iroquois Nationals came close to medaling by finishing 4th in an 11-team field.

In 2002, the games were back in Perth, where the Iroquois Nationals again missed the medals round finishing fourth in what was becoming a major international sporting event hosting 15 nations. Neal Powless was selected as the first Iroquois Nationals player to be selected to the Tournament’s All-World Team.

London, England was the location of the 2006 World Lacrosse Championship and for the fourth year in a row, they missed the medal round finishing in fourth place. The Creator’s game, as the Haudenosaunee call it, was spreading as the fastest growing sport in the world and London hosted 21 nations. Brett Bucktooth was selected to the All-World Team that year.

Then came the controversial 2010 games back in Manchester when the Iroquois Nationals were refused entry into England after the Haudenosaunee passports the team had been using for international travel to that point were denied. Hillary Clinton tried to intervene at the last moment by offering them travel under a USA card, but England would not accept that, and after four years of training and anticipation, the Iroquois Nationals as a whole, chose not to compete if it meant compromising their Haudenosaunee Nationhood. Rather, they chose to compete in a tournament in Hawaii that year. By now the World Lacrosse Tournament had grown to 29 national teams, 30 with the Iroquois Nationals.

But the Iroquois Nationals came back in 2014 with a score to settle, and although they did not capture a gold or silver medal, this team became the first to earn a medal after defeating Australia 16-5.

“All credit to the Iroquois, [the heat] just seemed to hit us harder after the half,” Australian head coach Glenn Meredith said in Lacrosse Magazine after the game. “We thought our superior fitness would help put us over the top [with it close at the break], but all of the sudden they were dodging and we were coming up flat-footed.”

“Basically, we just opened it up [in the second half] and started hammering down the alleys with our middies and that seemed to really wear them down,” head coach Steve Beville said. “Obviously we’ve got a lot of skilled guys, so we knew we would be able to score.”

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