When Canada Vs Iroquois lacrosse is on, you watch it. The lacrosse is beautiful, the gear is legendary, and every position on the field plays the game with passion.
To give you a glimpse into the magic that is this FIL game, Ryan Conwell made sure to get some top notch photos out to the world ASAP. Hero status here!
Canada won 15-4, but the real winner was anyone who watched the game.
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Canada Vs Iroquois – FIL Semifinal Photos
When these two teams faced off the first time in this tournament, the Canadians doubled up the Iroquois by a score of 10-5. But with a trip to the gold medal game on the line, the expectations for the Iroquois were much higher. Surely the Iroquois would have another trick or two up their sleeve to generate more offense, while also hoping Canada’s Dillon Ward wouldn’t turn in another 24 save, 83% performance again. Unfortunately for them, that is not the case.
This time around, Canada’s defense took things to a whole new level while their offense decided also improve. The result was a 15-4 win where Canada was in control for the entire game. They scored just a minute into the game from Ben McIntosh and never looked back. In fact, it was a shutout 6-0 first quarter before Randy Staats scored off a feed from Jeremy Thompson straight from a faceoff win to start the second frame.
In the first quarter, the Iroquois were getting several excellent looks on cage, and even getting rebounds off of saves, but Dillon Ward was just on a different level in this game. Warren Hill was also making some key saves for the Iroquois, but too many shots from Canada were coming from right on top of the crease, from open cutters, or time and room shots on the outside.
The other hallmark of this game has been the extremely physical play of these two teams whenever they meet. Their familiarity is high with the amount of box they play through the NLL and various CLA leagues, so they know each other well. Many are teammates and many are opponents. But at times, it can definitely turn into box outdoors. And while the Iroquois did have their wooden sticks on the sideline, they opted to keep those off the field this time around. But that did not matter as through the first quarter, players like Kevin Crowley found themselves to be on the receiving end of some pretty strong stick checks which they very clearly did not appreciate.
There were several times through the game where Canada really started to milk the clock and keep extended possessions. When I asked Head coach Randy Mearns about this, he said: “Everyone played box lacrosse with the 30 second shot clock and the NLL. It’s just kind of a game sense. We don’t want to stall, but we want to manage the clock and I thought they did a great job of it. Let the offense work. It wasn’t a lot of quick hitters. It was a lot of movement, movement, movement, pass, movement, movement pass, movement.”
Iroquois Head coach Mark Burnham had the same thought when it came to the possession game and how important each one can be. “We weren’t getting the possessions, we weren’t getting the ball. And when we did we were forcing it a little bit and taking some shots that we could have had better shots on. Some transition shots we could have settled it a bit.”
But both coaches laughed about how incredible Dillon Ward was in this game. He finished with 13 saves at 81% on the day. For Mearns, he said “Words can’t even describe. He’s seeing it like a beach ball and we’re going to depend on him a lot in the championship game.” Burnham on the other side of the equation had to draw upon a conversation he had with Ward informally earlier in the day. “I asked him if he would please not have as good a game as he did in the last one and he lied to me and had another good game. He said he was going to take it easy on us.” That tends to be the result of good goaltending. When a goalie stands on their head, sometimes coaches just have to throw up their hands and laugh.
Moving forward, Canada finds themselves with a day off before playing in the gold medal game once again against USA. They are going for their 3rd gold in the last 4 tries, which would be quite a dominant display. For the Iroquois, they are looking to pick up a bronze medal, which is something they have only done once before. When evaluating the important of a medal to the letdown of not reaching the gold medal game, Burnham said “Anytime you can medal, it’s a medal. There are a lot of teams here, there’s a lot of very good lacrosse. It would be the second time we medaled as a men’s team. Which is always the beginning. You want to medal, you want to be in the medal rounds and you want to get a medal. These guys don’t quit. The team doesn’t quit. I asked them to sit in a zone and our defense looked at me like I was crazy. I thought we should save our legs, but you can’t tell that to our guys because they have a never quit attitude.”