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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).
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This pool analysis will be of the Orange group. Sweden will come in as the established and well-seasoned team, while Argentina and Hungary will look to build on local successes since the Denver World Championships in 2014. What he have in this group is a case study of a program that has taken their lumps and developed into a regional power, followed by two newer programs still learning and looking to find their footing on the international stage.
ORANGE – 2018 World Championships Preview
The Swedish National team enters this tournament with a very favorable first seed, after an outstanding showing in Denver. A, 13-10, loss to a very strong German team set the Swedes up for an 11th place match against the Kiwis from New Zealand. Sweden went on to win by a narrow margin of 10-8. Establishing yourself as 11th best in the world against a 38-team tournament is no easy feat, and to repeat or ideally improve upon that standing against 45 other nations will be a tall order.
Sweden is up to the task, in my opinion. Whether or not success can be pulled off is going to be entirely up to the 23 men in blue and yellow, but the hard work in improving from 2014 to 2018 has been put in. A rapidly advancing Scandinavian region is propelling Sweden forward.
Constant competition and domestic development is the hallmark of the Sverige program. A degree of North American help will be called upon to help get up over the hump, but it is the core group of guys you see at every tournament in Europe that is doing the heavy lifting.
While 2016’s European Championships weren’t the result Sverige Lacrosse was hoping for, we’ve seen a second place finish at the Scandinavian Cup and a very strong showing by the Sundyberg club at the Ken Galluccio Cup as well.
I must admit I don’t know a much about the Pan-American region, nor really what to expect from this 2018 Argentina National Team. Argentina’s website boasts an impressive national league of ten teams. Also included in that section of the website is a blurb about free housing in Argentina on the grounds that you come, teach, and leave behind your gear… sounds like a good deal to me!
2010 in Manchester was Argentina’s debut, with an second appearance and an improved record at Denver in 2014. Argentina struggled mightily towards the end of the tournament, with their final two losses being to Uganda and Korea, respectively.
2015 brought about the Copa de America, a tournament that I believe could be the future for FIL qualification in the Pan-American region. Argentina finished with a 2-2 record with wins over Chile and Columbia, before falling to Chile in the semifinal rematch by a score of 5-8.
Regional dominance seems to belong to Mexico at the moment, but we’ll see what July has in store for the Argentinian National Team and if they’re able to climb the ladder just a little bit higher this time around.
Hungary came on the scene almost overnight. Grassroots efforts in Budapest were augmented big time by the successful bid to host the 2016 European Championships in Gooolodolloooo, Hungary. Hungary quickly cemented their place in European rankings with a very respectable 4-4 record. Breaking even on their first ever FIL appearance earned them a 17th (of 24) finish.
This will be Hungary’s first appearance in a World Championship event, however. The field of 24 present in Gododolloolo will virtually be doubled for Netanya. Teams with vastly more experience on the international stage will be on the opposing sideline, starting immediately in the group stage.
Hungary isn’t coming into this battle without gearing up first. Two consecutive yearly appearances at the Heritage Cup has helped to build some chemistry between a core group of Hungarian players. 2018 did not bode so well for Hungary, but 2017 saw Hungary squaring off with Israel and Jamaica in the “3-way Braveheart heard round the world”.
Orange Group Matchups
Sweden comes in the 1-seed favorite after earning an 11th place finish in 2014. Argentina finished 34th, but is the 2-seed due to Hungary is unranked – making their debut this coming July.
Sweden vs. Argentina
Thursday, July 12 11:45 Wingate Field 6
Sweden will be the clear favorite in this match, and the onus will be on Argentina to really come out hot and firing if they hope to knock off a well-prepared Swedish team. This is not to say Argentina is not prepared and has not improved, but they’ll be trying to show the world how much they’ve learned against one of the world’s top national teams.
Argentina vs. Hungary
Friday, July 13 18:45 Wingate Field 3
This is an interesting dynamic, and I think will be the closest of the pool games for the orange group. Hungary will be coming in fresh, while Argentina will have that game with Sweden under their belt to get all the jitters out. The simple fact is that since 2014, Hungary has seen infinitely more competition, while Argentina will be banking on a longer overall history and hopefully therefore a deeper chemistry.
Hungary vs. Sweden
Saturday, July 14 15:15pm Wingate Field 3
These teams did not see each other in 2016, so this will be the first meeting of Sverige and Magyarország. Sweden will obviously have the aforementioned upper hand when it comes to experience. If Sweden is able to just play their game and limit the unforced turnovers, I have a hard time seeing a relatively unseasoned defense stop a streamlined offense like Sweden’s. Anything can happen however, and a potential win over Argentina in Hungary’s first-ever World Championship game could have the morale riding high into Saturday.
The Swedish Box program is also developing quickly. There doesn’t seem to be a huge overlap between the field and box rosters, and I just simply can’t not put this picture up.
On my ever-shortening bucket list of lacrosse tournaments to attend around the globe is Argentina’s Fin Del Mundo tournament. Fin Del Mundo refers to the “end of the world”, a name commonly associated with Argentina’s southernmost coastline. I hope to make it out this November!
Lacrosse is alive and well in Budapest, Hungary as well. A budding Budapest Lacrosse club hosts two consecutive weekends of the New Year’s Cup in early January. I had the pleasure of playing with the men’s team this year, and this very well may be one of my favorite European tournaments in regards to development. Real games, real referees, and local clubs coming for an affordable and (most importantly) fun weekend in a beautiful city. Slowly but surely, lacrosse is growing domestically in Hungary, spurned forward by international attendance.