Bruce Pirie reports from the EC16 Quarterfinals – Day 7 at the European Lacrosse Championships:
Photos by Oskar Polak, Sniper Pix
EC16 Quarterfinals: England vs. Switzerland
Our fist heavyweight match, England vs Switzerland, began with an unusually slow start on the English side of the ball. England, the heavy favorite, found themselves tied 1-1 after the first quarter with the scrappy and determined Swiss team. But in typical fashion, the boys from England woke up and rattled off four goals in the second quarter to take a 5-2 lead going into halftime.
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The Swiss fought tooth and nail to stay in this game, but superior play at the face-off X by the English kept the ball out of their sticks and stifled momentum.
At some point the Swiss also awoke a sleeping giant in no. 16 for the English, Zach Guy, who revealed his true colors. Guy deposited a couple pretty behind-the-back goals as well as assisted another tally for his squad, finishing the day with five points total (4 goals, 1 assists).
England came out on top with a demanding 12-3 quarterfinal victory.
Tradition in favor of England: Zach Guy comes from a very lacrosse rich bloodline. His father played for Hobart College in the team’s prime during the late 1980’s, winning a handful of Division III championships and earning All-America honors as a senior.
Growing up in the historic lacrosse town of Lafayette, New York, Zach is one of six siblings who have all grown up playing the game. Turns out Guy played his high school ball with the Thompson brothers, dominating NY State high school lacrosse during their tenure. No. 16 then went on to play his colligate ball at Georgetown University. Now he’s found himself quarter-backing the English attack, and I have to say, it’s a magnificent sight!
EC16 Quarterfinals: Scotland vs. Finland
In the second quarterfinal matchup, we saw Scotland take on Norway in a doozy which I now consider the Game of the Tournament to date. The day prior, we saw an unusual performance from the Scottish as they lost to Wales and appeared to lack the same “juice” they’d played with earlier in the tournament. It was great to see those boys come out hot and with a purpose.
Scotland’s goalie, Ethan Harris, absolutely stood on his head throughout the match. His play provided the necessary stability on the defense that the Scottish had lacked the game prior. With dominant play down the middle starting at the “X”, Scotland owned nearly every possession, dictating the pace of play during the first three quarters. The duel threat of Richardson and Jeffrey seemed to stump the red-hot Finish draw man (No. 9 Sami Gräsbeck) for majority of the game.
The Finland sure had their opportunities given the one-sided possession battle. But it was sloppy play in transition that kept the score in favor of the Scottish throughout the first three quarters. Playing too unselfish and always looking for that “one-more” extra pass when shot opportunities presented themselves, the majority of which led to unforced turnovers.
Gräsbeck “woke up” in the fourth quarter and reminded us all why he’s one of the most dominant face-off specialists in the European Championships. Providing the Fin’s with the extra possessions they needed to get back into the game, time expired and we founded ourselves, yet again, going to overtime with the score tied 8-8.
After the two four-minute overtime periods the game shifted to “Golden Goal,” and this is where things got particularly interesting. A controversial slashing call (Scottish fans would argue) put the high-powered Finish offense on the advantage and a handful of passes into the man-up. The ball landed in the pocket of the tournament’s leading point scorer, no.50 Roope Jokela, and he buried a beautiful low-to-high, sidearm shot stinging the top left corner, tucking that ball to sleep, and causing the crowd to roar.
Now this is how you celebrate: Before the ball could even hit the ground, Jokela did something you do not see that often. No. 50 took off in a full sprint to celebrate with his goalie…not inviting the celebration come to him, but to his goalie! Dodging his own teammates who looked to give him the credit, Roope showed class that is second-to-none. The LAS crew all agreed it had to be one of the coolest and most inspiring celebrations any us have ever seen in our lacrosse tenure.
EC16 Quarterfinals: Germany vs. Israel
The third game of the EC16 Quarterfinals provided us a rested vs tested scenario. The Germans fought through one of the more competitive pools to get into the playoffs. Meanwhile, their counterpart, Israel, advanced through hands-down, the weakest pool of the tournament. We all know the Israelis have one of the top rosters on paper, but how would they match-up against the red-hot squad from Germany?
Israel’s Zach Ornstein led the way by winning the battle at the “X,” giving them the advantage in the possession game. Playing that make-it-take-it style of lacrosse all teams hope to play, Israel was able to control the pace of the game and show its superiority.
An accomplished draw specialist from the US, Ornstein started for the University of Albany Great Danes this past season as a freshman. He also played in the U19 world games for Israel. Now here he is as the stud face-off specialist for the senior men’s national team. Can you imagine!?
Matching feet with his top performing teammate, Israel’s goalie played a major factor in the momentum of the game. And one thing I strongly believe: Your play down the middle of the field (“The X” → Goalie) more times than none dictates the outcome of the game. Israel won that battle and came out victorious, 8-4.
EC16 Quarterfinals: Netherlands vs. Wales
As the day winded down, the LAS crew headed over to the fourth and final EC16 quarterfinals bout between the Netherlands and Wales. Wales jumped out to an early lead 3-2 in the first quarter and finished the half up 7-5.
Although the score showed a close match, the play on the field told a much different story. The Welsh dominated the play at “X,” neutralizing Dutch stud Van de Veerdonk who was held to just 2 assists on the day. Both occurred within 36 seconds of one another, coming off of face-off wins turned fast-breaks.
Wales took it to the Dutch defense during settled play, banging bodies and getting to the rack when they wanted too. Naturally, the defensive unit on the opposite end of the field following suit. Throughout the game, Netherlands failed to generate settled offense and that inevitably was the deciding factor of this game. Wales won 12-5.
Day 7 Results
Day 7 Highlights
Day 7 Photos
Photos by Oskar Polak, Sniper Pix