Editor’s Note: Jordan West-Pratt is back with his fifth update from the German camp that is playing in Manchester right now. The Germans were bumped up to the top Group as the Iroquois were not allowed to travel to England because of passport issues. The transition to the Blue Division hasn’t resulted in a lot of wins so far but the positive effects of playing against the world’s best are clearly being felt. Look out for the Germans in 2014. I have a feeling these losses are really going to light a fire under the Germans collective posteriors.
Update five: Canada and Australia
Two different opponents and two very different feelings. I am sad to say the German camp is currently feeling a little low, despite all the best efforts of our fans: they are the best, most consistent and valuable part of our team right now. These guys have been out to every game, in force and in colors showing their love for us through what have been some challenging games. We appreciate their support more than they could know. For many of us, the run across the field to our fans after each game has been what keeps us moving. Thanks to those guys!
Let’s start with the best 12 minutes in the history of German Lacrosse. Off the opening faceoff against Canada, the ball ends up in our possession, we bring it down in a classic flat break, Campbell feeds Lazarus on the wing, and as the ball sails in off the cross bar we hear the Canadian defense breathe deep. The pace slows a little and after 12 minutes, its 2 all, tied up after almost a quarter. The Canadian offense started to click after that, and their defensive athleticism was hard on our offensive sets. But those first 12 minutes felt as good as any 12 minutes I have ever played anywhere else.
In the end the score was a lot to a little, and we took comfort in hard running and hard work on ground balls. This has been our hope, to make every team who takes the field against us work hard for 80 minutes, and as we did against the US, so too with Canada. Sure, they rested some of their all-stars, shortened their bench and got some reps to unfamiliar faces on the offensive end. But the players in the game didn’t get any breathing room. We left the field happy to have played the reigning world champs, happy to have learned a little more about Lax at professional speed, and proud of having won some of the little battles.
After the game we went to our fans first, and then became fans ourselves. We took group shots with Canada; the best team in the world and the best players in the world (Editor’s Note: we’ll see about that on the 24th of July!). This for us, was a once in a lifetime moment. We cherished it, and we thank the Canucks for being such great sportsmen.
We had to prepare for Australia the next day, and we had all the pressure on us now. No more games against teams far beyond our reach, no more talk of “winning the little battles” Australia had already lost to Japan. The same Japanese team we had dominated for half a game, and we wanted our first win. We were two games better now, we had time to adjust to the speed of the game, and the Australians had been pushed hard by the Blue and White of Japan. Many of us believed that this was our best chance; we believed we could take this game and the buzz through our dorm was incredible. There was a feeling in the air, and around each player, that something really special was about to happen.
During the pre-game chalk talk we didn’t talk about minimizing opportunities and playing it close. We didn’t talk about out hustling on ground balls. We did put in the necessary wrinkles in separate O and D meeting, took the field for a walk through, and then went over full team strategy in a second chalk talk. We could hear it in the voices of our coaches, they could feel the win around the corner, and they expected it.
Despite all that, we put together the worst 80 minutes of our tournament. The Australians beat us to the punch for most of the game. And despite a couple of time outs, and adjustments at both ends of the field, we just never got started. Credit to the team for staying up, we remained vocal and positive on the sideline, and there was no self destruction or infighting; something I’ve seen too often when good teams play poorly.
We have a day off tomorrow to regroup and it’s hard to get through the day after a loss like we had, but we need to be prepared. We have two more games. Having played in the Blue Division, we will not finish worse than eighth, but we could still finish as high as fifth with two wins. The best the German side has ever done is 6th, and we would love to best that. But most importantly, we have to show the world that we belong here in the Blue group. We took a huge step backwards today, but we may have learned an important lesson. There are no easy days in Blue, there are only excellent lacrosse players and superb athletes. Nothing is free and you don’t get a W just because you show up.
Editor’s Note: This is great perspective on wins and losses and what is really important. For any national team, high school team or college team that is trying to break through to the next level, this post should provide inspiration. Ws are important but keeping the team moving in the right direction is the ultimate goal. Rome wasn’t built in a day after all, and neither was Berlin.
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