Photo Credits: Josefin Nygren and Magnus Häll
On Saturday May 3rd, Sweden Lacrosse hosted the three nation tournament known as the Scandinavian Lacrosse Challenge of 2014.
Team Norway and team Finland were invited to the tournament that was held in central Stockholm before a devoted crowd of approximately 300 fans in the audience who turned up despite the pretty cold May weather.
All three national teams will compete at the FIL World Lacrosse Championships held in Denver this summer, the tournament not only served as a way to determine bragging rights amongst Scandinavian national teams but also served as preparation for the upcoming championships. All three national teams have finalized their rosters and each of these teams consist of the best players in each nation.
The tournament was also an opportunity to showcase lacrosse for both old and new fans, as well as a fund-raiser for the Swedish national team. Lacrosse is still a small sport in Sweden and has not yet recruited the minimum registered players to secure government support. All costs relating to preparation, travel, accommodation and participation in Denver is funded by the players and staff themselves, the tournament filled an important roll in raising money to cover costs for equipment, uniforms, etc.
The tournament consisted of three games to determine the Scandinavian Champion and besides great international lacrosse being played, fans had the opportunity to witness the “fastest shot competition” as well as getting the chance to come down to the field an try to score on one of Sweden’s national team goalies. Sweden’s Richard Zeidlitz saved 15 of 16 shots allowing only one goal being scored. The goal scorer, Bruno (age 3), surprised the goalie with a low shot between his legs.
Finland’s Jarno Aaltonen took home the trophy in the “fastest shot competition.” All three teams nominated two players to represent each country and it was a very even competition with Aaltonen sharing first place with Norway’s Lars Rysst, both shooting at 155Km/h. To separate the two players, they each got a final shot to determine the winner and Jarno Aaltonen’s consistency helped him win with a final shot at 153Km/h.
The tournament was won by Sweden, winning both of their games. The first game of the day was Sweden vs Finland and the score was 3-3 coming in to the fourth quarter. As this game was both teams’ first real game of the season, both struggled to capitalize on their scoring opportunities. However Sweden pulled away in the fourth quarter with goals from attackman Alex Edenå and midfielder Tim Riley to win the game with 6-4.
Game two between Finland and Norway turned out to be a very even fought game with both teams’ defensive units dominating the game. Regulation ended 4-4 with the Finns scoring with only nine seconds left in regulation. Finland’s Valtteri Laaksonen then went on to score the game winning 5-4 in the second overtime period.
The third game between Sweden and Norway started out as an even competition and the game was tied at half time. Sweden stepped up in the second half to win the game with 12-6. Midfielder Sanny Falk and attackman Alex Edenå both had three goals each in the last game of the tournament.
Sweden won the tournament with two wins followed by Team Finland who won against Norway. All three teams played very well and the games showed three national teams that has put a lot off effort in to preparing for this summer’s championships. It’s obvious that Scandinavian lacrosse continues to progress, not only on the field but also on the coaching side as well as all teams had one or more “home grown” coaches.
This event turned out to be a success on so many levels” said John Sagrelius, President and National Team Director for Sweden Lacrosse. “We would love to continue this tournament and make it an annual tradition to help promote the sport and develop our national teams. There is a great friendship amongst the Scandinavian national teams but we also share a similar athletic tradition and healthy neighborly competitiveness so this is really an ideal opportunity for us to develop our game