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Canada Lacrosse: Going For Gold In 2014

0 - Published June 13, 2014 by in Denver 2014, International

Canada Lacrosse is the only national program to ever claim an FIL World Championship other than the United States. Canada won titles in 1978 and 2006, and has never finished outside of the Top 3. In 1967, 1982, and 1994 Canada finished third, behind Australia. Every other World Lacrosse Championship event (for field lacrosse) has seen them finish in second place.

In 2010, Canada and the US were the clear cut favorites. The US won the final 12-10, but Canada beat the US in round-robin play 10-9. This round-robin loss was the FIRST time the US had ever dropped a round-robin game in international play (that seems to amazing to be true, but it is), and it marked only the third time ever that the US had lost in field lacrosse at a WLC event. All three of the historic US losses are to Canada.

In 2014, Canada will play the US, Australia, the Iroqouis, England, and Japan during their Blue Division round-robin games. While the Canadians are favored to win all these games (save for the US contest, which should be more even), I’m curious to take a deeper look at this team, and see if they have what it takes to win an FIL world title this Summer. We took a deeper look at the Iroquois, and now the Canadians are under the microscope.

Canada Lacrosse Attack Unit

John Grant Jr., Mark Matthews, Adam Jones, Zack Greer, Wesley Berg, and Curtis Dickson should see a lot of the reps down low on O, but the Canadians have a number of guys who could see time down there, and a lot of their offensive players can play attack or midfield. Many college teams run six attackmen on O, but Canada could run six midfielders on O.

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Offensively, they have talent, and plenty of depth. I would expect Junior to be a major point of importance for Canada. He is the best ball carrier of the bunch, and creates a mismatch in almost every match up. The Canada attack is loaded with lefties, and has plenty of scoring punch, as is to be expected. Coach Randy Mearns has a reputation for letting players play, and this should be a great attitude with this group. Grant Jr’s calm demeanor and ability to rag the ball will also come into play heavily if Canada is up late in a tight game.

john_grant_jr_canada_lacrosse

Photo Credit: LacrosseAllStars.com

Canada Lacrosse Midfield

Although Canada’s midfielders are a strong offensive group, they can also play some really good defense, and this will be a huge benefit when they play the US, Australia, and the Iroquois. David Earl, Jesse Gamble, Cam Flint, and Jeremy Noble all stand out as athletic midfielders who can play good D, and then push the ball down the opposition’s throat. Kevin Crowley, Jordan Hall, and Jesse King all add size to the group, and plenty of scoring punch. Both Brodie Merrill and Jason Noble can do all of the above and more, as potential LSMs. While Canada doesn’t have the giants that the US offers in their midfield, there is a lot of athleticism combined with savvy. Realistically, this might be Canada’s strongest midfield group ever, and that’s scary.

team_canada_try_out

Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo

Canada Lacrosse Defense

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The D for Canada is also looking extremely solid, and this is where you’ll find a good deal of the Canadian’s defensive experience. The middies are a little young, and the goalies are a bit young, but the poles? The poles have experience, and plenty of it. I have already mentioned Merrill and Noble, but when you add in Matt Vinc (the Rochester Knighthawks goalie and Canada long pole), the experience level jumps even more. Kyle Rubisch and Dillon Roy add even more experience and skill, as well as size and attitude. This group should be tough to beat, and should play very well together, which will help Canada’s relatively young goalies.

Rochester Knighthawks Philadelphia Wings NLL Matt Vinc Photo:Larry Palumbo

Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo

Goalies & Face Offs

Geoff Snider is back on the roster, and should be as dangerous as ever, winning draws and scoring goals from time to time. Snider gives Canada an added toughness (they are tough without him, but with? Watch out!) and a ton of leadership and passion. Snider has helped with past U19 teams, and loves putting on the red and white. He’ll be on point this July!

In net, Angus Dineley and Dillon Ward are both on the roster. I haven’t seen both of these guys play during tryouts, and I couldn’t tell you who will be the starter, but I can tell you that both of them are excellent. In the US, we may not think of these guys as top level keepers, but in this regard, we are completely wrong. While neither has a ton of national team experience, the world will see what they can do this Summer. It’s something to keep an eye on and will make you look smart when your friends ask, “who the heck are these Canadian goalies?”

Canada Lacrosse 2014 Outlook

While the Iroquois look promising, and Australia hopes to make a big splash back in the top 2, Canada has to be considered the heavy favorite, along with the US, to play for the world title. John Grant Jr is playing his best lacrosse ever, even as an older player. The Canada attack can shoot and score like few in history. The midfield is athletic, and deep, and littered with scorers. The defense is experienced, and tough. The goalies can play with the best on any day. Geoff Snider is on the team…

Basically, this Canada Lacrosse team should be considered very “complete”. They have guys who can do a couple of jobs well, and others who do one or two important jobs well. They have a good set of experienced leaders, and plenty of younger guys who are playing for Canada for the first time. They have legs, they have toughness, and they have a coach who will let them play their game.

They also have the ability to win consecutive possessions with face off play, score transition goals, or hold the ball for long periods of time (no stall in FIL lacrosse!) when they are up. Guys like Jordan Hall and Kevin Crowley know each other extremely well, and this results in great chemistry from the get go. What is going right for Canada? Everything, it seems.

Should the US be worried about Canada? If I were Richie Meade and coaching the US, I sure would be!

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