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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 Green group of Germany, Korea and France!
This group will come into the tournament with a lot of preconceived notions. One team will be challenged to maintain and reaffirm their standing in the global lacrosse order, and two others will have the tall task of trying to show what exactly they’ve been able to accomplish these past four years.
GREEN – 2018 World Championships Preview
Ze Germans have been exemplary leaders as far as what lacrosse can look like in a country that hasn’t had it for 100+ years. Structure, vision, and tireless efforts from hundreds of dedicated players, coaches, and organizers has led the way for development in Germany. The lengths that German lacrosse has gone to can also be accredited for a lot of the success that neighboring countries have enjoyed. Close proximity and relatively inexpensive transportation modes between cities has made Germany the core of Europe’s lacrosse development.
While increasing participation levels and a rising level of play are all great things, it will be the skill and ability of 23 men that will matter most. A competitive and lengthy tryout period has arduously trimmed ze German roster down, and we will now see the final product in less than a month!
Ze Germans placed ninth at these past World Championships in Denver back in 2014. That placement is only three outside of blue group placement, and 2018 will be a real challenge to see if Germany can repeat and/or improve. Israel and Japan finished 7th and 8th respectively, and the climb into blue only gets more difficult from there. Germany had a tough draw and were not able to rise to the challenge in 2016’s European Championships, but corrections have been made and I believe we’ll see a young, talented German core driven by experienced and seasoned leadership.
Whether or not ze Germans are able to ascend to a position that truly reflects their prowess as a lacrosse-building nation will not be determined until the dust settles July 21st, but if they are to fail, it will not be for lack of preparation. A team training tour in Boston saw Germany tested by 3 NCAA programs all the way back in October, as well as a weekend scrimmage with Israel in Dresden this past July. Most recently, Germany traveled to Barcelona for what I truly believe was the most insightful meeting of National Teams ahead of the Worlds. Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, England, and special guest University of Notre Dame were all in attendance as these programs barrel down towards 2018’s World Championships.
Republic of Korea
Korea is one of the Asian countries that will be looking to display their improvement and ability on the wave of improvement that is sweeping the Asia-Pacific region. While Korea may not have enjoy the logistical ease that it’s groupmates have, that does not stop this determined organization from getting their games in.
Korea hosts a four-team national league, aptly named the Korea National Lacrosse League. In addition to that domestic league, we have a lot of insight as to how the Koreans will fare due to their continued participation in all contests in the region. The Asia-Pacific Lacrosse Union hosts their ASPAC tournament every two years (versus the European Lacrosse Federation hosting Euro Championships every four), and those games give us a much more recent pulse as to Korea’s advancement.
Korea took home the runner-up placement after an 8-4 defeat to a talented Hong Kong team. Korea stands fourth presently in the APLU standings, with traditional powerhouses Japan, Australia and Hong Kong above them, as well as Taiwan, China, and all member nations of the APLU who did not compete below them.
In addition to the ASPAC games, we also have gotten a 2018 look at Korea, as Phantom Seoul participated in the Hong Kong Lacrosse Open. The Hong Kong tournament is a very competitive field, and that higher level of talent saw Phantom Seoul fall to the game for 7th place. It is important to note that without a roster for Phantom Seoul, it is impossible to compare to their national team roster, meaning we cannot necessarily draw conclusions.
The French are the wild card in this deck. A disappointing 2014 Denver showing (30th) and an unfortunate 2016 Gooodalooooo showing at the European Championships (23rd) have France coming back with something to prove.
A quick examination of the roster indicates that we’re still seeing a core group back from 2016, but we’re also seeing the addition of some French players with North American experience.
French lacrosse has seen pockets of development and true strides made by a dedicated few, but as a whole, France has not matched paces with neighboring countries in terms of domestic growth. There is hope that we might be seeing the best French team yet in Netanya, but a lot of unknowns do exist regarding whether or not we’ll be seeing a cohesive unit, or individual talent sans chemistry.
It is notable that the Lille Wild Seagulls (as opposed to those raised as pets?) are in fact a strong lacrosse club, and the majority of the French team will be comprised of Wild Seagulls (that is so much fun to say). Lille hosts the Boxmania tournament every November, boasting one of Europe’s biggest, and allegedly most fun box lacrosse gatherings. The Wild Seagulls take part in the Belgian league due to proximity and last I heard they had secured a playoff berth.
No team can be taken for granted in this edition of the World Championships, as relegation and qualification will be instituted starting in 2022’s World Championships. The French won’t miss the field of 30 without a fight, and I look forward to seeing what that looks like in less than a month!
Green Group Matchups
Germany comes in as the 1-seed, after 2014’s 9th place finish. Korea is slated for the 2-seed, with France bringing up the 3-seed with eyes to upset Korea.
Germany vs. Korea
Thursday, July 12th 08:30 Wingate Field 3
This is the first game for both teams, and the first games overall on July 12th as we kick off the tournament. A cohesive German team will be a tough match for Korea, and Korea will need to be perfect if they have any hopes of catching ze Germans still sleeping that early game. 8:30am local time is prime lacrosse time in the afternoon in Korea, compared to 7:30am in Germany, so you really never do know!
Korea vs. France
Friday, July 13th 18:15 Wingate Field 5
This could be the most interesting match of the pool, but neither team really knows much about the other. Korea is probably sizing up France based on 2014 and 2016’s results, and France might be underestimating Korea’s potential ability based on 2014’s finish. It will be interesting to see what exactly this French team looks like on the field, and a bigger question will be how much the Korean team has learned since 2014 with constant competition in a developing lacrosse region.
Germany vs. France
Saturday, July 14 14:25 Wingate Field 5
Not even ten sentences ago I said that France/Korea could be the most interesting match of the pool, but that is not to discount the X factor in France. If the North American experience can gel in their match against Korea, it will be interesting to see what they can mount against arguably the most talented German team to date. I’m unable to find a matchup in the last four years where French and German National Teams have competed, so at the very least we’ll be seeing regional dominance asserted by one team early on in Netanya’s World Championships!
That’s all there really is to be said, now all that’s left is to blow the whistle and see which team comes out on top!
We look forward to seeing you this July in Netanya, Israel! Safe travels!