International Men

July 16, 2014
Can England and Japan return to the Blue Division in 2018? They are among eight teams with a shot at the four slots along with Canada and the United States. (Scott McCall)
Can England and Japan return to the Blue Division in 2018? They are among eight teams with a shot at the four slots along with Canada and the United States. (Scott McCall)

Two Days Will Determine 2018 Blue Division

by Sean Burns | | Twitter | World Lacrosse 2014

Update: 10:12 p.m.

The Israel squad made it 2-for-2 on the non-Blue Division upstarts putting forth big efforts, but Australia hung on to take a 9-8 win and advance to the semifinals tomorrow against Team USA. That'll be a tough turnaround - the U.S. - Australia semi is set for the first half of the double-header, facing off at 4 p.m. With the delay, that makes it a quick gap, but at least the game isn't ending close to midnight like so many have this tournament.

Israel, on the other hand, will take on England in the 5th-8th place zone, with a chance to secure a Blue Division spot for 2018 if they can earn a win there. And judging by their performance this evening, that is certainly within the realm of possibility (as is Scotland topping Japan).

Good day of lacrosse out here.

Update: 7:37 p.m.

With the lightning gone and teams warming up, we're on track for a 7:55 p.m. face-off between the Australian and Israeli teams for the fourth and final semifinal spot. We'll be piping in some live updates via twitter below.

Live Blog FIL World Championships - Australia vs. Israel

Update: 6:24 p.m.

A very game Scotland squad packed it in on defense and got a big game from goalie Dean Stewart, but the Iroquois managed to pull through and win, 10-8. The win moves the Iroquois into the semifinals with a date against Canada Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (MT). Scotland slides down into the 5-8 bracket, where they will take on Japan Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The winner of that game will earn itself a spot in the Blue Division, as it will finish either 5th or 6th.

As the familiar refrain goes, some bad weather rolled through and we're currently in a delay for lightning, but hopefully it will clear soon and we'll be on to the next quarterfinal between Australia and Israel, scheduled for 7 p.m. but likely pushed back at least a half hour to let the teams get a proper warm-up once we (fingers-crossed) hear the 'all-clear' from the delay. We'll have live updates here when it does.

Update: 3:45 p.m.

New Zealand gave Japan a scare - rallying to a 9-7 third quarter deficit against the 4th place finisher in 2010 - but Japan went on a big game-closing run in a 17-8 victory. (Box score) The result means the Kiwis are dropped into the 9-12 placement bracket for a game against , while Japan advances to face the loser of this afternoon's Scotland-Iroquois Nationals matchup.

In the other game, England ran away for a 15-3 victory over Germany - its first win of the tournament. Germany drops along with the Kiwis to the 9-12 and will face Ireland. England, meanwhile will get either Australia or Israel in tomorrow's next round.

The quarterfinals are up next, with the Iroquois Nationals and Scotland opening things at 4 p.m. (MT). Word is, Lyle Thompson will be absent for this one - headed to Los Angeles for the ESPY Awards, where he is nominated along with Maryland's Taylor Cummings.

We'll be piping in some in-game updates of that one, as well as the 7 p.m. match between Australia and Israel. The winners of those advance to take on Canada and the United States in tomorrow's semifinals.

Blog Replay: Iroquois Nationals 10, Scotland 8

Live Blog FIL World Championship Quarterfinals - Iroquois vs Scotland, Israel vs Australia

We're down to the final few days of the 2014 edition of the World Lacrosse Championships, and its down to arguably the most important few games for teams outside of the top 3-4 in the world: the contests that determine the Blue Division for the next world championship – scheduled for Manchester, England in 2018.

The top six teams play in that Blue Division, carrying the prestige that brings with it increased visibility and stature. This year, for example, all Blue Division games were broadcast on ESPN3 or ESPNU, and it is impossible for a team in the Blue to finish lower than 11th among the 38 teams in attendance.

As I write this, Japan, 4th place finisher in Manchester 2010 and the No. 5 team in Blue Division pool play, is in a battle with New Zealand, which has ran through pool and play-in action to earn a chance at making its run to the top of the game. No. 6 seed England faces Germany at 4 p.m.

Later, the quarterfinals face off with Scotland and the Iroquois at 4 p.m. playing for a semifinal berth against Canada, followed by Israel taking on Australia with a berth against the United States in tomorrow's semifinal. For the winners of those two games, the equation is simple: they are in the Blue Division for 2018 as they can finish no lower than 4th place once they make the semifinals.

Here's how the rest of the scenario breaks down.

The losers of the Japan-New Zealand and Germany England games are out of contention – they drop 9-12th place bracket for their placement. The winners there advance a rung further, where they will face the losers of tonight's quarterfinals (Japan/NZ take on the loser of Scotland-Iroquois, England/Germany faces the loser of Israel-Australia). Win that matchup, and you are guaranteed a Blue Division ticket in four years. Lose, you find yourself in the limbo of the 7th-8th place game. A fantastic finish for any team, but JUST outside of the Blue Division.

Why does any of this matter? Ask Germany, which participated in the Blue Division four years ago, but was bumped back to the lower zone after the FIL voted to reinstate the Iroquois to the Blue after they technically finished last for forfeiting their contests in Manchester when they weren't issued travel documents.

Germany has played well in this tournament (and can still win their way into the Blue), but suffered from difficulties fundraising after word came down they wouldn't be in the elite bracket. While there's no way of knowing at this point if there will be any change in the tournament format as the FIL continues to grow and work towards its ultimate goal of Olympic status, the importance of these next two days worth of games even for teams that aren't gunning for gold and silver anymore is pretty huge.

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