As the playoffs roll on in the tournament, the eleventh place game was played in the brand new pavilion on Saturday. The two teams fighting for this spot were Germany and Serbia.
Germany got here by losing a tough two goal game to Finland while Serbia lost in a high scoring 25-18 shootout with Turkey.
This game did not start out the way Serbia would have liked. On the very first play, their faceoff man limped off the field (he would return) as Germany began a 4-0 run.
Denying the Germans a quick transition goal on their first attempt, Serbia was able to slow them down a little bit, but time of possession came into play. Germany seemed to completely control the ball at the beginning, stretching out their offensive possessions and not allowing Serbia to rest their defense much.
On their first true offensive possession, Philip Broz of Germany scored and Marc Brandenburger followed very quickly with number two. Jamie Plunkett got on the board just two minutes later before Artjom Meriasch gave them number four. It wasn’t until three minutes were left on the clock that Taylor Yaremovich scored for Serbia, stopping the run. Jordan Pavic followed suit and scored with 23 seconds left. The quarter would end 4-2 with a little pushing and shoving going into the break, but this would not escalate into anything.
Unfortunately for Serbia, it took only 20 seconds for the Germans to score again to increase their lead to three. At the three minute mark, Serbia picked up a slashing call while the German defense tried to run it out of their end, allowing Germany to score on the 6v5 opportunity pushing the score up to 6-2. Germany then picked up a penalty to give Serbia a man-up opportunity of their own.
Unfortunately, they mishandled a pass, giving Germany the possession and a short-handed goal. Serbia did answer back with a beautiful quick stick goal from the low righty spot to make it 7-3. It wasn’t long after, that Germany got another goal from Plunkett, who made an easy cut through the defense and scored from point-blank range. With only four minutes left, Serbia’s Ryan Ferizovic scored a very impressive goal from the low lefty side, with absolutely no space or angle to speak of.
On the next possession, Germany was called for a cross-check, but they were able to withstand the Serbian barrage of shots until they had a penalty of their own. Alex Gajic for Serbia scored with just 35 second left to make it 8-5 going into the half. While Germany was controlling face offs and most of the possessions, Serbia never gave up in the half and kept fighting their way back into the game.
The third quarter started like the second, with a very fast goal from Germany, only 24 seconds in. It was an outside underhand shot from Brendan Shea, who was at the lefty shooter spot. After that, things slowed down quite a bit in the scoring department. Both teams had plenty of opportunities, but it wasn’t until another six minutes passed by that Germany would add another goal, this time it was a short-hander from Shea.
Serbia would not be shut out in the quarter though as they got an excellent short-handed transition goal of their own from Ferizovic with seven minutes left to make it 6-10 Germany. They would notch another with three minutes left, this one from Ryan Pavic followed by another Gajic goal (Power Play) with 14 seconds left to pull the game within two going into the fourth. Things were getting a little more physical with a few dead ball activities, but nothing out of control.
Serbia did stop the trend of allowing a quick Germany goals, which did help their case a bit. It wasn’t until over four minutes had passed that Plunkett scored another in transition to put the Germans up 11-8.
Serbia almost answered back right away, but as the ball was rolling free in the crease, a German defender stepped in and stopped it from crossing the goal line. As Germany tried to clear it out of their end, Serbia forced a turnover and Pavic scored a quick goal right on top of the crease. We were back to a two goal game.
Just over a minute later, Serbia’s Yaremovich made it a one goal game with under eight minutes to go. An ill-timed penalty against Serbia right after gave Germany a man-up advantage. Serbia actually almost scored a short-handed goal, but an acrobatic save from Tyler Glebe kept them up by one.
Germany lost the ball pretty quickly after that while trying to clear and Serbia’s Yaremovich converted in transition. It was now an 11-11 tie with 4:48 left. Germany answered right back with a low underhand score from Shea with 3:22 left. Another German goal just 22 seconds later made it 13-11.
Not to be outdone, Gajic immediately answered for Serbia, scoring 20 seconds later to bring it back within one. Germany did not just try to milk the clock, but opted to stay aggressive and kept the offensive pressure on. When Serbia did get the ball again with 39 seconds left, they pulled the goalie to opt for the extra forward. This resulted in three shots, but no goals. After the final whistle, there were plenty of words exchanged between the two teams, but the refs were able to break everything up before something really came out of it. Germany would win with a final score of 13-12.
Fuel for Thought
The win for Germany meant they finished in 11th place after the week of games. While they certainly hoped for a better result, it’s a good start for a team that sees much more success in the outdoor game. They are one of the few countries that does have their own network of box lacrosse teams, and had representation at the U19 challenge, so I do hope to see their fortunes improve in 2019.
For Serbia, this was the largest stage the young program has ever played on. Being only five years old, they still held up pretty well against some good competition. It will be great to see how they do over the next four years so they can improve upon what they started here in Syracuse.