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The 2018 World Lacrosse Championships are rapidly approaching, and we couldn’t be more excited! Netanya, Israel will play host to the 46-team tournament that will decide a World Champion, as give a finite ranking to how one nation stacks up compared to another. Our coverage of these games has been and will be thorough and complete, continuing now with this series detailing the 14 pools (13 of 3 + Blue of 6).
There is no particular order I’ll be going in, and today’s decision is to go with the Bronze group of Wales, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico!
This group has a lot going on as far as a few different team personalities (as I see them). The well-established old guard, the every-four-year mystery box, and the potential powerhouse newcomer.
BRONZE – 2018 World Championships Preview
In case you didn’t pick up on the aforementioned personalities, they are respectively listed as the teams are seeded. Wales first made their appearance in the first ever holding of the European Championships in 1995, and first World appearance in the 1998 World Lacrosse Championships, back when there were on ELEVEN teams in the tournament.
Since then, Wales has maintained a status as a team that will give competitive games to all comers, and can never be taken lightly. These most recent European Championships in Gooodoolloolloo, Hungary saw Wales take an impressive fourth place finish after impressive wins over Scotland (12:8) and Norway (6:5) before falling to Israel in the semis (3:10) and then to Finland in the third place game (4:12).
The Welsh program enjoys regional competition with English players and leagues, a luxury not commonly afforded to many international programs. Being a short drive away from Blue division caliber opponents has developed a strong core group of Welsh players who have been battle tested, and come in to Netanya with that all-important team chemistry.
The mystery box is a mystery box. Bermuda will look to keep the tradition alive of being anyone’s best guess as to what steps on the field. First taking the field in London, Ontario’s 2006 World Championships, Bermuda has been present at every holding of the World Games since.
That being said, to the best of my knowledge that’s the only place we’ve ever seen Bermuda Lacrosse. Bermuda does host the annual “King of da Rock” men’s tournament (personal bucket list) every May, but aside from their entry in the most recent Men’s U19 World Championships, we don’t really know much at all about this team. That U-19 roster suggests that we may see a young team in Netanya, but without a roster released it’s very hard to predict what we’ll be seeing! How fun!
Many fledgling programs unfortunately have to take their lumps their first time around. Even the other two teams in this group both finished dead last in their inaugural World Championship appearances. I don’t believe we’ll see that trend continue with Puerto Rico, however.
Talent will not be the issue with this Puerto Rican team, although other challenges still exist and will need to be met if Puerto Rico wants to live up to some of the hype surrounding the island nation’s debut.
Puerto Rico lacrosse has been a work in progress with ambitions for glory on the field, as well as doing all right things on the island as well. Initiatives in Puerto Rico have focused on introducing lacrosse to youth by collaborating with the Fundamentals Sport Summer Camp, a camp that serves to introduce kids to ALL sports, and simply to just get them up and moving!
On the field, we’re looking at arguably the highest lacrosse pedigree, and we’ll see if the chemistry can be created and solidified. The team has played together and had success, as recently as last month when Puerto Rico took second place with only 13 players at the Heritage Cup. Puerto Rico’s short bench at their second ever appearance to the tournament can be accredited to the fact that four of their National Team players were still on rosters playing in the NCAA semifinals!
Bronze Group Matchups
Wales comes in as the one seed, having earned a 17th place spot, and Bermuda will come in as the 24th best team in the world – leaving Puerto Rico unseeded. Unseeded groups were added to the schedule in the order of their joining date to the FIL.
Wales vs. Bermuda
July 12, 12:30 Wingate Field 1
With no offense paid to the best-dressed Bermuda National Team, I don’t believe they’ll be able to pull together a team able to rock the tried and true Welsh foundation. While 2016’s Gogododollloooo tournament sounds like a long ways back, the strides made by the Welsh have only improved the team, and I don’t see a reason to believe the Bermudans will be any better than 2014. That IS the point of the mystery box however. I might be completely wrong!
Wales vs. Puerto Rico
July 13th, 18:45 Wingate Field 4
This is Puerto Rico’s debut, and Wales will have to come out hot to squander that momentum. Puerto Rico’s high powered offense will be challenged to connect and gel if they’re expected to come out of the day 1-0. This truly is the matchup of experience, international development, and established chemistry versus a Puerto Rican team rife with NCAA experience and raw talent. Puerto Rico’s disadvantage will be seeing (arguably) the tougher of the two teams in their pool first. I foresee some growing pains as guys get used to playing with each other, but then again, what do I know?
Bermuda vs. Puerto Rico
July 14th, 18:15 Wingate Field 5
Battle of the islands! This will be the first ever meeting of the teams, but hopefully we’ll see this develop into a friendly rivalry as lacrosse grows in the region and regional qualifiers are instituted these last “open” World Championships. Once again, the mystery box will be called upon to have some seriously heavy-duty surprises if Bermuda hopes to solve the equation of Puerto Rico’s firepower and raw skill. I believe that some of the question marks will be erased from Puerto Rico’s game plan, and we’ll see a much smoother Puerto Rico on their second day than their first.
The Welsh have great fans, with really persistent cheering sections. I’m relatively unfamiliar with Welsh culture, but I really, honestly and truly hope that the Welsh are out in full force supporting the Dragons, as this would not be a World Championships without them! The picture below is not of a Wales supporter, but I really like it anyways.
Bermuda was mentioned as being best dressed, and I meant it. And their team logo has to be up there with some of the best as well! Look good, feel good, play great!
Puerto Rico recently marched in the Puerto Rico Day Parade and seem to have a lot of support rolling into this debut. We love to see a community effort and a group doing just as much off the field as on it.
Good luck to everyone! See you in Netanya!