U.S. Finishes in Familiar Spot with Bronze
by Paul Schwedelson | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Members of Team Israel wrapped their arms around their teammates next to them. Their national anthem, “Hatikvah” — which means “the hope” — was sung inside the Carrier Dome as Israeli players prepared for the chance to unseat the United States.
The first three World Indoor Lacrosse Championships all ended with the same teams on the medal stand — Canada with the gold, the Iroquois with the silver and the United States with the bronze. And after a 15-4 win on Sunday afternoon in the Carrier Dome, over first-time participant Israel, the bronze medal will remain in the hands of the Americans.
Entering the tournament the U.S. was considered an underdog to make it to the championship game and after losing on Friday to the Iroquois, the U.S. was forced to settle to play for third place.
“This certainly wasn’t the game we wanted to play in today,” 39-year-old American Casey Powell said, “but I’m proud of the effort we put forward.”
Save for a few sparks of life from Israel, the U.S. dominated the entire game. Highlighted by four Kevin Buchanan goals and five Powell assists, the Americans held possession and capitalized on its plentiful chances.
Less than a minute into the game, the U.S. already made progress in the final leg of its quest to return to the medal stand with a goal by Marcus Holman.
After the U.S. took a 3-0 to start the game, the hope for the Israelis seemed to dwindle. A temporary resurgence came when Kyle Bergman put Israel on the board to cut the lead to two, but short-handed responses from Kevin Buchanan and Holman pushed the Americans’ lead to 5-1 by the end of the first quarter. After losing to the Iroquois on Friday, the U.S. bounced back with a strong first quarter.
“It’s not hard (to get team motivated after a loss). These guys are such competitors,” U.S. head coach Tony Resch said. "We wanted to be warming up right now playing in the gold medal game, that was our No. 1 goal, but our guys just come to the locker room and when it’s time to hit the floor, they give everything they have.”
Midway through the second quarter, the U.S. made a push to extend its lead, but Israel goalie Zachary Higgins made two key saves — first on a diving Garrett Thul from point blank and second on a rocket from Greg Downing from 10 yards out.
Still, it wasn’t enough as Israel’s offense couldn’t get going. A second-quarter goal by Bergman made it 5-2, but then the Americans scored four straight heading into halftime. That 4-0 run occurred in a three-minute span, bolstering the Americans’ lead to 9-2.
The Americans held onto its stronghold as the world’s third-best team and answered the questions that existed before the tournament.
“We knew we were going to learn more from the time we got up here than our whole preparation before it,” Resch said.
Former Syracuse star Powell wore No. 22 in the Carrier Dome for one more time and finished tied for a game-high five assists. Team USA’s Joe Walters also had five assists. The duo has emerged as two faces of American lacrosse, but their relationship was forged years ago.
When Powell played in Rochester for both the Knighthawks and Rattlers, he frequented Walters’ mom’s restaurant. Walters often went to the Carrier Dome to watch Powell play when he was at Syracuse and looked up to him as a kid. On Sunday, the pair helped set the tempo for the Americans.
“A great bunch of guys,” Powell said. “Wonderful experience. This tournament was amazing.”
In the second half, Israel’s offense never started clicking despite several man-up opportunities. The game was almost more of a celebration of box lacrosse on a stage as big as ever inside the Carrier Dome.
Powell had returned home and his family was able to be in the crowd. After claiming bronze, Powell looked around the locker room and cheered up his teammates. He looked around and told them, “‘Don’t worry guys, we’ll get them in four years.’”
“And everyone looked at me funny,” Powell said. “But I’ll continue to play as long as I can.”
Fittingly, Powell scored Team USA’s last goal of the tournament.
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