DENVER – If the word heartbreaker could be applied to any lacrosse game, Sunday night’s 9-8 loss for the Iroquois Nations at the hands of Team Canada at the World Lacrosse Championships held this year in Denver, Colorado, would be that game.
The Iroquois have become the darlings of the FIL World Lacrosse Tournament and bring with them a loud and enthusiastic crowd to each of their games. But after a long rain delay Sunday night, the I-nats looked slow, undisciplined and at times uncomfortable throughout three quarters of the game before shocking the Canadians with a huge, come-from-behind charge in the forth quarter.
Curtis Dixon’s game winner scored with 19 seconds remaining in regulation time proved to be the back-breaker after the I-nats exploded with four unanswered fourth quarter goals to even the score at 8-8.
Iroquois fans had reason to cheer early as the star of the star-studded roster, Lyle Thompson, scored unassisted at 1:47 of the opening quarter. That elation was short lived as Team Canada netted the next six goals to end the first quarter Canada leading 6-1. Maybe it was nerves but the I-nats were far too aggressive in the early going and were assessed with seven penalties in the first half. Although most did not result directly in goals against, they prevented the Nationals from finding their rhythm.
Cody Jamieson scored at 55 seconds of the third quarter to begin the I-nats on the come back trail. His shot bounced off of Ward and barely made it over the goal line, but it was in and the Nationals were now down 6-2.
Miles Thompson converted a pass from brother Lyle who intercepted a Canadian pass and quickly found Miles in front of Ward to cut the Canadian lead in half.
Canada came back with two to increase their lead to 8-3, and looked completely in charge to that point, but Randy Staats made it 8-4 to end the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter conditioning became a factor as the Nationals found weaknesses in the armor of tired Team Canada.
Lyle Thompson scored 19 second into the quarter and again at 3:02 to make a game of it. Jamieson then set up Craig Point at the side of the Canadian net with a hard pass Ward seemed to think was a shot and committed himself to it, pulling away from the post.
Randy Staats made it a new game at 8-8 from Point with 8:19 remaining, and the momentum turned totally in the Iroquois favour.
The Iroquois had Team Canada on its heels and gasping for breath in the last five minutes of the game as they kept the ball in play in the Canadian zone, threatening to beat the Canadians for the first time ever in International play.
The I-nats continued to press and Warren Hill made some game saving stops late in the period. Just when it looked like an OT period or an Iroquois win was immanent, Jeremy Noble caught defender Sid Smith turning the wrong way on his check while defending Curtis Dickson, and sent a pass to the edge of the crease, which Dickson converted into the game winner with 18 seconds remaining.
The 2-1 I-nats did not have time to pine over the disappointing loss, as they were slated to take on Australia Monday night.