International Men

July 18, 2014

Hot Start Not Enough for Iroquois, Focus Shifts to Bronze Medal

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive | World Lacrosse 2014

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Lyle Thompson was ready to walk off the field at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, helmet on, sticks in hand and already gazing toward the locker room. But then he paused for a moment.

Soon after, what has become a normality after a lacrosse game involving a Thompson, continued. Lyle, his brother Miles, along with Syracuse rising senior Randy Staats and incoming Orange goalie Warren Hill, were some of the last players to leave the field, signing autographs and taking pictures for about 15 minutes for young fans who stuck around.

"Even though I was a little upset I didn't want to leave the fans upset, with kids standing around," Lyle Thompson said. "They've waited all week to get my autograph. I'd like to give that to them, at least."

It was the end of the championship bracket hopes for the Iroquois Nationals at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship after a 12-6 loss to Canada in the semifinals on Thursday, in the nightcap of the semifinal doubleheader that earlier saw the U.S. dominate Australia 22-3.

Lyle and Miles Thompson celebrate after a first-quarter goal during the Iroquois 12-6 loss to Canada in the FIL World Championship semifinals. (Scott McCall)

Lyle Thompson and company came out strong, racing out to a 4-1 lead at the end of the first quarter with Lyle scoring two and assisting on another to Miles, but, as a team, they didn't score again until five minutes into the fourth. By then, Canada had scored eight straight and built a four-goal lead with Geoff Snider winning 16 of 21 faceoffs and the Canadians finding a rhythm on offense in the second half. Curtis Dickson scored three straight during the run.

Iroquois coach Steve Beville instructed Hill and the defense to start doubling with the Iroquois trailing 9-6 after back-to-back goals by Zach Miller and Randy Staats cut into the lead, but the Canadians handled the pressure well and tacked on three more goals in the final three minutes.

"We didn't capitalize," Thompson said. "We started off hot like we wanted. We had been starting off slow, but tonight we came out with a good game plan, getting the ball around twice before we go to the net. We did that, we did fine the first half. Coming out on the second half, we settled. And clearing hurt us. They had two goals off the clear. Offensively, they shut me off the whole second half. That kind of threw us off as a team. We kind of planned on going through me a lot today. Hat's off to them for good coaching and strategizing."

Beville said the tournament's schedule – Thursday night's game was the Iroquois seventh in seven days, and stormy weather here over the last week has made for some late nights – contributed to the outcome. The U.S. and Canada grabbed the top two seeds in the playoff bracket and a day off Wednesday, while the Iroquois played a two-goal game with Scotland in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, minus Lyle, who was in Los Angeles for the ESPY Awards, nominated for Best Male College Athlete. He got back Thursday morning.

"Seven 80-minute games," Beville said. "We are a hell of a lot younger and leaner than most of the teams in the tournament, including the Canadians. The physicality of the game wore us down a little bit as we went. But we'll be back. This is a really, really young team. I'm very proud of them. We still have one more left, so let's see what we can do."

The Iroquois will play Australia for the bronze medal on Saturday. The Australians have placed third in each of the last four world championships while the Iroquois have finished no better than fourth in five appearances.

"Our next focus in the bronze medal," said Staats, who scored twice on seven shots. "It's a tough loss, but we have to get over it and win the bronze."

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