Australia Rallies Past Israel, Into FIL Semifinals
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - After the grind of a Blue Division pool play schedule that saw delayed games lasting deep into the night and physical contests against the best teams in the world, Australia needed all of its reserves once again, rallying from a 4-1 deficit to take a 9-8 win over Israel and advance to the semifinals of the FIL World Championship against the United States on Thursday afternoon.
Eight players scored goals for the Sharks, with Marty Hyde potting two and Nigel Morton assisting on a pair, while Matt Diver and Anson Carter had a goal and an assist each. Tom Vickery was huge in net, entering with his team trailing by three near the end of the first quarter and making 12 saves the rest of the way to earn the win, allowing just four goals.
"[Vickery] hasn't put a foot wrong in this tournament since he got here, he's been playing out of his skin" said Australia head coach Glenn Merideth. "We always knew he was that kind of a goalkeeper back in Australia, but to see him doing it on the world stage here is really exciting."
Even with Vickery and the Australian defense doing its best brick wall impression down the stretch, Israel gave no quarter to the 2010 third place team after running through pool play in dominant fashion. Behind three goals from Ari Sussman and two from Cody Levine, they led 4-1 after the first quarter, and 5-3 early in the third quarter after Levine's second goal.
|Marty Hyde had two goals for Australia, which spread its scoring in the rally over FIL newcomer Israel. (Scott McCall)|
Australia scored five of the next six to take a two-goal lead, but Israel continued to battle, making it a one-goal game off a Sussman goal with 10 minutes left, then answering a late Alex Brown goal with another from Sussman. In the final seconds, they had a flurry in front of the Sharks net on a brief man-up opportunity, but Vickery stood tall and Australia hung on for the one-goal victory.
"We're happy with our performance, but disappointed – I think anybody would be," Israel head coach Bill Beroza said. "We expected to win that game, and we had chances and opportunities. Australia was a good opponent and they played great, we just didn't step up when we needed to."
While Australia advances to face the United States – which won 16-7 in pool play in one of many contests delayed by the Colorado weather this week – Israel will play England with a chance to earn a spot in the Blue Division in 2018 on Thursday afternoon.
It'll be a short turnaround for the Sharks, as Wednesday's game didn't finish until just before 10 p.m. local time after a 55 minute delay due to lightning after the earlier Iroquois-Scotland contest. Face-off for their semifinals contest with the United States is at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. But Meredith thinks his team will be ready, seeking to maintain its record of finishing no worse than third in each World Championship since the event began in 1967.
"[The United States] is a fantastic outfit, they're all professional lacrosse players and they're well drilled by their coaches," he said. "But we're Australians, mate. We'll have a dip, we won't leave anything on the table and hopefully we'll get some respect out of them on that."
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