We take a look at the best new teams in the FIL – those who pushed to the highest finish in the final 2018 WLC standings!
There were a number of new teams – those competing in an FIL World Lacrosse Championship for the very first time – so which of these teams performed the best on the field, and how did they arrive at the success they saw?
2018 FIL WLC Best New Teams
8th Place – Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico will take on Israel for 7th place, but win or lose that game and they will be the highest finishing new team in 2018. Puerto Rico only started its national lacrosse program in 2016, and the hope is to use the success of the national team to create a culture around the game on the island. I’ll be headed down in a couple weeks to instruct some coaches who want to learn how to teach the game and leave some more sticks behind when I go. Can’t wait! While some may ask why Puerto Rico can compete in the FIL if they are part of the US, it’s a good question, but the answer comes from the Olympics! Check out this link on how the IOC can basically do whatever it wants when it comes to recognizing National Olympics Committees. It’s interesting to say the least.
Now when it comes to how Puerto Rico finished in the Top 10, that’s another great question! Here are the teams that PR played, and the scores of each of their games.
Vs Wales 16-4 W
Vs Bermuda 18-3 W
Vs New Zealand 13-1 W
Vs Germany 14-9 W
Vs Japan 14-9 W
Vs Iroquois 14-7 L
Vs England 11-4 L
Vs Israel – 12-1 L
Now let’s talk about some of the guys who made this team click!
Offensively PR was led by Scott Bieda (8G-10A), Desi Gonzales (12G-4A), Luis Gonzalez (6G-3A), Kevin Lewis (21G-1A), Kevin McNally (14G-5A), and Cory Millhouse (8G-2A). Matthew Martinez and Will Ramos anchored the defense with their work in goal with John Thomas Giles-Harris and Ricky Pages providing a lot of support in front. Thomas O’Connell provided great play through the midfield and the team got great coaching from their staff.
10th Place – Philippines
The Philippines have been around a little longer than Puerto Rico, and they sent a team to play in the festival in 2014, two years before PR had even started, but their Top 10 finish in 2018 – their first real FIL tourney – is beyond impressive. They will play Germany for 9th or 10th place. This group was well coached, talented, tough, and repped the Philippines and their heritage in a serious way. They were exciting to watch, motivated, and one made one heck of a debut on the world stage this go around!
Here are the Philippines’ game results through the 2018 tourney:
Vs Czech Republic 11-6 W
Vs Belgium 11-4 W
Vs Switzerland 11-5 W
Vs Israel 11-8 L
Vs Italy 12-11 W
Vs Scotland 12-6 W
Vs Germany – 8-5 L
Mario Ventiquattro has scored 15 goals and added 8 assists to lead the PLA. James Schutt has scored 17 goals, which is just incredible. Matthew Speciale has 20 points with 11 of those being goals. Joseph McKenna and Adrian Macalalad have each put up 10 points on 5 goals and 5 assists each. It’s a well-rounded, and talented, bunch on this roster!
In goal Daniel Morris has been phenomenal. The former Maryland Terp has kept the team in games, won others for the team outright, and given the squad the confidence they need to succeed.
Philippines are also a nominee for best helmet because that shiny thing is beautiful.
13th Place – Jamaica
I firmly believe that Jamaica could have finished higher than 13th or 14th, but because they were in a pool with Israel they could not afford to lose that game in pool play. Someone had to lose, it was Jamaica, and that meant they were playing middle group finishers, and it meant they would roll. Jamaica is talented, and if they had been in any other pool (outside of PR and Philippines) they would have had a good shot at winning their group.
Jamaica was led on offense by Evan Redwood (11G-10A), Paul Jalen (12G-3A), Hakeem Lecky (12G-9A), Clifford Kurker (9G-2A), Mark Darden (17G-4A), and Joel Brown (10G-3A). Goran Murray was great on D all tourney long, and Nathan McPeak played the vast majority of minutes, playing well all tourney long.
Here are the scores, and how Jamaica made it to 13th place!
Vs Israel 11-3 L
Vs Russia 17-7 W
Vs Peru 17-4 W
Vs Slovakia 12-5 W
Vs Greece 11-4 W
Vs Switzerland 12-6 W
Vs Finland 8-7 W
Vs Wales 10-7 W
One loss and then a WHOLE LOT OF WINS for Jamaica. Great stuff!
19/20th Place – Greece
Greece has talent on their roster and I could certainly talk about a lot of it, but instead I’m going to focus on the Greek goalies. One is a 49-year-old Oscar winner (seriously) and the other is just about 16 years old. This week we saw each of these men earn wins for their team, and while I love Anthony Katagas’ “old man and the field” story, there is just something cool about setting records!
That’s right, Loukas Sotiropoulos-Lawrence of Greece lacrosse set a record this tourney, and it’s a cool one! He is the youngest goalie ever to start, finish, and WIN an FIL game at the World Lacrosse Championships! That’s just very cool stuff!
Big ups to Coach Andrew Athens for having a perfect last name, running a loose but tight ship, and for taking the Greeks on a very successful first run through the FIL WLC.
Here are how their results have panned out (so far):
Vs Mexico 13-8 W
Vs Lativa 10-9 L
Vs Argentina 12-9 W
Vs Jamaica 11-4 L
Vs New Zealand 12-11 W
Vs Latvia 14-9 L
Vs Switzerland – 8-6 W
27/28th Place – Hungary
Hungary hosted the 2016 Euros and that was also their first event as a team. It wasn’t an FIL event, so 2018 marked their first trip to the Worlds. George Rohoczny has been driving this team forward from Day 1, and it has taken a monumental effort to make it happen. For Hungary to finish in the top 30 is a major accomplishment, so congrats to George and his whole crew!
A small roster, injuries, youth and inexperience all combined to lose some games for Hungary, but this team was always a threat and if you slipped up there was a good chance they would make you pay. Jon Yen was phenomenal in goal all tourney long, and that’s a great story because he was originally signed on with the team… as a coach. When another goalie couldn’t make it Yen dusted off the old cleats, strapped it up, and got back out there. He played great!
Here is how Hungary made their run to the high 20s:
Vs Argentina 14-6 L
Vs Sweden 16-6 L
Vs Bermuda 7-6 W
Vs Croatia 15-3 W
Vs Russia 14-12 W
Vs Spain 9-8 W
Vs Sweden 14-8 L
Vs Hong Kong – 15-5 L
Congrats to ALL FIVE of these teams and to EVERY SINGLE team that made their debut in 2018. Keep playing, keep growing, keep improving!