Editor’s Note: This is Jordan West-Pratt’s 3rd entry on LAS covering the World Games in Manchester, England. LAS fans and readers, thanks for the support and comments on the writing I have done so far, I appreciate all the feedback! As most of you are already aware, Germany has been bumped up into the Blue division alongside Canada, the USA, Australia, Japan and England. Obviously this is a direct result of the travel obstacles faced by the Iroquois, and as a team we have all shared our disappointment at starting the tournament without the Iroquois contingent. Naturally, no team, or competitor hopes to advance this way, but we are planning on showing our respect through hard work and a strong competitive spirit.
After I wrote my last entry we received word that the Iroquois Nationals would not arrive on time, and we were offered an exhibition match against England in the tournament’s opening game. We were all obviously thrilled. Many of the vets on the team have had exhibition scrimmages against England Australia and Canada, but never in the tournament opener and never in front of such a big crowd.
We spent the day going about our regular schedule, breakfast, controlled scrimmage against Suisse, lunch and then prep for the opening ceremony, and the exhibition game. We met in front of our dorm, and realized we were the only team carrying bags, the importance of that moment for us was huge, we would be playing in front of what we believed would be the biggest crowd we would see all week. We dropped off our gear and lined up alongside many of the other teams. Paul Rabil was caught snapping a photo of us in our slick white team gear and that was enough to put a smile on our faces. We followed that with a group shot with the mascot. All fun, light, relaxed.
Then coach called us out of the line up and had us meet away from the crowd. “Good news, bad news.” I remember him saying. We would be given the chance to play the tournament in the blue division; we would be playing a regulation game tonight and not an exhibition. It meant we would not be able to run our alternates, and this hurt us all a little, but we were still overcome with joy. Smiles, hugs, high fives; unchecked youthful excitement. The immediate realization that we would face the US and Canada follwed, and then the phone calls to friends and family back home.
We had 2 hours to shift gears from exhibition mode, and get set for the first Blue-division game ever played by a team from continental Europe. We would make a bit of lacrosse history tonight. We played the English side strong for the first 40, down only 5-2 at half. A sluggish start to the third saw us give up 5, before we regained form and played a 1-2 fourth quarter, losing 12-3 (As I remember at leaat; this may require revision!). We all feel good about what we put on the field, but more importantly, we all feel we could have done better. No player is satisfied, no player feels lucky to have been here. We all want better for the team, and for German Lacrosse.
I spoke to a few of the guys afterwards to gain some perspective… I asked Hendrik Dubois (#45, Captain), “What does it feel like to be participating in the blue division?”
“I believe this is an amazing chance for us to show what we have accomplished not only with the national team, but in Germany as a whole. We have some good players, we will take this opportunity and give it all we’ve got.”
Matt Althauser (# 71, scored the first German goal of the tournament) had this to say:
“Amazing. German Lacrosse has come a long way just over the last few years and it is a great opportunity for the sport going forward in Germany. We are all excited for the chance to show how far the sport has come and to represent Germany at the highest level.”
What are you looking forward to most about matching up against Canada and the US?
“It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to play the best players in the game today. Having watched most of them in games on TV and on the Internet, taking the same filed will be a memory not a lot of players get.” (DuBois)
Mustafa Eroglu (#16) added that this was basically, “My dream come true!”
For all of us it is a great challenge to match up with the best in the world when it counts. One day we hope that German Lacrosse will be considered among the best and getting these games is a giant step in that direction. (Althauser)
What does this opportunity mean for German Lacrosse?
“It means the world to us as players and for the whole lacrosse community back home. Showing people what is possible and how far you can get if you work hard and play as a team. I am truly proud to wear our jersey and represent my teammates who are watching us on the Internet, playing alongside the best in the world” (Dubois)
This is the reward of a good and long work in Germany. The lacrosse world knows that Germany is ready for the biggest competition. (Eroglu)
I think our reaction to the announcement when we heard it showed best what it means to us. We were shocked and couldn’t stop smiling, hugging and high fiving. For guys that get to play at that level who have only played in Germany is the opportunity of a life time that they will no doubt take advantage of it. Maybe more importantly, they can take this back to Germany and use it to improve the game back home. (Althauser)
We have a day of practice tomorrow, and then we face a strong Japanese team. We have to think that it is a must win game. We have been given an opportunity to sit at the table, and we have to prove that we belong.
Whatever follows in the next few days, all of us will have lived a dream; we will have played on the biggest stage against the biggest names. As coach Bergersen told us today, “If you want to measure yourself, these are the teams to measure yourself against.”
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