Welcome to day two of the Lax All Stars blog from The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland!
With the arrival of the teams yesterday, comes time for the athletes to find their bearings (or their missing luggage or accreditation). Today brings their first opportunity to visit and practice at the facility being used for the tournament.
Ready for Lacrosse at The World Games
The venue organisers and the Polish Lacrosse Federation began yesterday afternoon in dismantling all traces of the fistball tournament. They’ve worked continuously since daybreak to get the grass ready for a final trim and markings.
As you can see from the photos, the fistball medal matches on a soggy turf yesterday did remove some grass coverage. However, the weather has since been dry and the underlying soil is unaffected.
Jan Ryzdak, the field of play manager, is mostly concerned this morning with trying to remove the fistball court lines and small patch where the net stanchions have dug into the field.
At practice today all of the squads have been run through their paces by the coaches to refresh their 7 on 7 game mentality. The Australians added specific midfield work to their workout, we will find out why this is so later in the blog.
The Australians, Canadians and Americans have retained most, if not all, of their squads from the Rathbones Women’s World Cup in Guildford, whilst the three remaining sides are a little more unknown to the wider public.
The team consists of players selected by Nicky Budd (England U19 Head Coach, Head of Lacrosse at Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton) from England, Scotland and Wales.
This is the very first time the Home Nations have come together to form a squad to compete at an FIL sanctioned international event (as in most sports, athletes from Northern Ireland can select which country to play for).
It is a historic moment for lacrosse as this is the selection criteria the United Kingdom must use for the Olympics, should lacrosse be accepted into the Games. Although a new team, the GB players will know each other from school, U19, and senior regional tournaments, and Home Internationals.
Moreover, the English women on the squad have been working together for over 6 months. They’ve scheduled matches against Japan, and have won the Festival Elite tournament running alongside the World Cup, defeating D1 Elite (USA) in a one sided final after losing to the Americans in pool play.
The Japanese squad is a completely new team from the one that
traveled to Guildford to compete in the World Cup. In practice, they look no less agile and use the same tactics as the World Cup squad. This should lead to some very exciting transitions.
The original Japanese squad needed to travel home due to work commitments. This situation is a reality check of sorts. Although we have made great strides in international development of the game, opportunities for professional salaried players are still extremely small and restricted to a tight talent pool and geographical area.
The host nation comes into The World Games fresh and undisturbed by injuries. Poland declined to partake in the World Cup to concentrate their resources on making TWG as successful as possible.
Their head coach, Kaitlyn Kennedy, says that after the extra practices the team have been putting in,
“…that I think the players are now far more ready for the matches and the opposition to come”.
Whilst confidence is growing throughout the squad, speaking to the players and the staff earlier today, they were in awe of watching the US team’s speed and ferocity of their ball movement.
Laying Down the Guidelines
I have just sat down with Stephen Taylor, Women’s Chair of Officiating for FIL. My goals was to understand the rule and pitch marking changes ahead of the tournament beginning tomorrow.
Number of Players on the Field
Changed to: 10 vs 10
From: 12 vs 12
Reason: As squad sizes were limited by The World Games to 15, the FIL decided to reduce numbers to 10.
What to Watch For in Pool Play Day 1?
How quickly will they find their rhythm in their favoured format? Will Ashtyn Hiron be the transition superstar she was in the World Cup?
Although not a one woman team, how will Coach Scott Teeter construct his substitution package to keep Dana Dobbie fresh. to allow her to make her superhuman dodges right through 70 minutes?
How well will GB’s team have gelled over the past few days of training, especially their young attack? Will Iona Dryden and Alex Drewe form a Nielsen-Burgess-esque partnership, segmenting the crease with pinpoint feeds and finishes?
With a completely new squad flying out from Tokyo, will they be the freshest players here in Poland? How well will their long transition bomb passes work with so much space behind available on their clears?
After sitting out the World Cup, they have been unseen since the Prague Cup in 2016. How far have they come in their development and how much of a boost from the home support will they get?
Now in a more familiar draw format and away from FIL’s usual 16 player scrums in midfield, how dominant will Taylor Cummings be on the draw?
With so much space to cover, will Devon Wills be used as the utility sweeper keeper role? If so, how will Coach Ricky Fried set up their zone rides?
Time Will Tell!
Day three of the blog will feature our first round of pool play, USA faces Poland at 10:00 am CET. GB gets their inaugural campaign underway against Japan at 1:00 pm CET. To finish, Canada will play Australia in a potential humdinger of a rematch from the World Cup semifinals at 4:00 pm CET.
Those wanting to know about streaming services the online Olympic Channel is providing 24-hour round the clock coverage of The World Games at no charge. The Olympic Channel will stream both semifinal games and the championship game either on a live or tape-delayed basis.
The semifinal game between the #1 and #4 seeds will be streamed live at 10:00 am CET on Saturday, July 29th. The semifinal between the #2 and #3 seeds will be streamed on a delayed basis at 7:00am on Sunday, July 30th.
The championship game will be slightly delayed, streaming at 3:45 pm CET on Sunday, July 30th.
I will leave you with the finishing act of last night’s Kaufland Athlete’s Party laser show, it was a spectacular showpiece that The World Games organising committee can be proud of.