Grow the Game®

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp

O’Neill Propels Team USA to Gold

Brennan O’Neill, the 21-year-old rising senior at Duke University, scored five goals from the midfield propelling Team USA to a 10-7 victory over Team Canada in the gold medal game.

O’Neil and the stars and stripe defense were the headliners.

The defense operated and stopped foes at an historical level. Goalie Blaze Riorden hasn’t given up a soft goal in years. Defenders JT Giles-Harris, Jesse Bernhardt and Jack Rowlett flew around like a swarm of bumble bees on honey. LSM Michael Ehrhardt, once beyond his tender hamstring, is a impenetrable force. The four short stick midfielders made the ultimate difference as Canada couldn’t find a match-up they could win. Danny Logan, Ryan Terefenko, Zach Goodrich and Jake Richards won their one v one’s, validating their selection as a foursome and proven to be a shrewd maneuver by the team selectors.

O’Neill Propels Team USA to Gold

The PLL and high level international lacrosse offense is all about match-ups. Find the favorable match-up and exploit it. If you can’t find the match-up, create one using two-man games and picks. The USA stacked their top six on offense with dodgers and ball carriers. O’Neill ran alongside Tom Schreiber and Mike Sowers. The attack of Kieran McArdle, Matt Rambo and Rob Pannell require three poles. Meanwhile Canada had non dodging threats who bogged down their offense unable to draw a slide against a shorty.

Team USA was in San Diego on a mission. They were in California to win gold. And while I’d like to see them interact more with the dozens of developing nations to foster global growth and spread their expertise, Team USA’s play on the field and behavior was exemplary. Stars and Stripes had respect for the game, the refs, the opponents and the fans while conducting themselves in A+ fashion on and off the field. They were consummate pros. But as the host nation, I would prefer more interaction, more pollination, more leadership and more good will towards those nations in need . Team USA for all its merits on the field has more to offer the world. The developing nations would benefit greatly especially in a year so critical for Olympic inclusion.

Team USA Defense (goals against average)

2023 – 4.00 GAA

2014 – 4.85 GAA

2018 – 5.28 GAA

1994 -5.71 GAA

2010 – 6.28 GAA


The sport had its modest beginning in Japan when Yusuke Sasaki and Mizuho Wakabayashi, students at Keio University in Tokyo, saw the game on television. Intrigued, they went to the Canadian Embassy for information. The Canadians introduced them to Norio Endo, a Hopkins alumnus who was living in Japan. Endo had recently talked about introducing lacrosse to Japan with Ross Jones, a Hopkins vice president, who thought the Japanese would like the sport.

In 1986, Bob Scott, the Hopkins athletic director and former head lacrosse coach, went to Japan to teach the game to the first group of students.

Yusuke came to JHU as an exchange student and lacrosse team manager in the late 1980’s. Hopkins team visited in the summer of 1989. I went to Kyoto and Tokyo for two weeks in the summer of 1990 with coach Don Zimmerman.

The Japanese continue to make strides and defeated England for a fifth place finish in a game marred by an ugly unsportsmanlike hit before the final whistle.

Jamaica’s top ten finish is notable. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this group of young men.

2026 Worlds

The 2026 World Championship location is still TBD with whispers of Hong Kong China and Japan as potential hosts.

Right now 86 countries play lacrosse. 30 nations competed in San Diego. An Olympic decision is expected in the fall. Lacrosse is looking to be a host city sport in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics. This sanctioning would be a game changer for International Lacrosse and enable many foreign nations lacrosse governing bodies to receive increased funding from their government support of Olympic sports. Olympic inclusion would be global validation of lacrosse.

Final Standings 

1. United States 

2. Canada 

3. Haudenosaunee 

4. Australia 

5. Japan 

6. England 

7. Israel 

8. Jamaica 

9. Italy 

10. Puerto Rico 

11. Germany 

12. Ireland 

13. Hong Kong 

14. Netherlands 

15. Philippines 

16. Mexico 

17. Scotland 

18. France 

19. Wales 

20. Poland 

21. Latvia 

22. Peru 

23. Czech Republic 

24. Sweden 

25. New Zealand 

26. Korea 

27. Switzerland 

28. Austria 

29. Denmark 

30. Uganda 

The PLL is in Minneapolis this weekend.