July 16, 2010
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Team USA Throttles Australia; Canada Looms

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Game Blog

Team USA attackman Brendan Mundorf sets up a dodge Friday during a three-goal, two-assist performance against his former team, Australia. Mundorf and Max Seibald (5g, 1a) combined for 11 points in a convincing 21-5 victory.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

MANCHESTER, England -- Sure it felt good. Four years of build-up and preparation, reliving the anguish of 2006 and clamoring to reclaim the gold medal had the U.S. men’s national team chomping at the bit.

Just like that, though, it was over. Team USA throttled an older, slower Australia, 21-5, in its Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships opener Friday. Max Seibald had a hat trick less than 10 minutes into the game en route to a five-goal, one-assist performance.

It wasn’t long before talk turned to Canada. The U.S. will meet the team that wrested the world title from its possession four years ago in what’s expected to be a sold-out showdown Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Manchester time.

“Guys, enjoy this for about 45 minutes,” goalkeeper Brian Dougherty said to his teammates after beating Australia. “Then it’s on to the team in red.”

Team USA has taken a business-like, almost cold approach to these world games. Coaches and team officials shooed players back to their dorm immediately after their big victory, one in which they seized a 7-1 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.

No on-field interviews. No autographs. Just a late dinner and a midnight curfew.

“It feels really good to come out of all the work we’ve been doing to come out and have the ball roll our way,” said attackman Brendan Mundorf, who had three goals and two assists in the win over Australia. “We’re really excited for Canada tomorrow. I think it’s a good thing we have those guys early on. We’ll be ready tomorrow, but we’ll get some rest first tonight.”

Mundorf and Seibald deserved it. Major League Lacrosse teammates with the Denver Outlaws, they were unstoppable early. Team USA head coach Mike Pressler drew up a give-and-go play before opening faceoff, on which Seibald capitalized just 11 seconds into the game.

Seibald added another goal just over a minute later. Mundorf made it 3-0 less than five minutes into the fourth quarter.

“All of a sudden we’re up 3-, 4-, 5-1 and then 7-1. It felt like we were obviously in control,” Pressler said. “We kept our foot on the gas.”

After Anson Carter put Australia on the board seven minutes in, Mundorf helped bookend a four-goal run – assisting on a goal to, yes, Seibald and scoring on a lefty blast from his favorite spot on the right wing – that put the U.S. up 7-1 in the first quarter.

Carter struck again on an Australian extra-man opportunity to pull within 7-2, but Mundorf’s behind-the-back finish of a feed from his UMBC and Outlaws wingman Drew Westervelt squelched any thoughts of a comeback. Team USA held Australia scoreless over the final 19:35 of the second quarter while building a 13-2 halftime lead.

From there, Dougherty got into a groove, finishing with eight saves in three quarters before yielding to Adam Fullerton.

Carter, who finished with four goals, said Australia did not have the firepower to keep up.

“What can you say? This is the U.S. lacrosse team,” he said. “They’re just a bunch of dudes that are freaking good at what they do.”

Pressler lauded the play of Team USA defenseman DJ Driscoll and long stick midfielder Kyle Sweeney, who scored two goals and assisted on a pole-to-pole tally by Eric Martin that sealed the 21-5 win. He also praised the offensive balance that saw Westervelt, Ned Crotty and Mike Leveille net two goals apiece despite Australia shifting between zone and man-to-man defenses.

“The thing about this USA team is we’ve been together now for a while. We’re very comfortable in our own skins and certainly with each other,” Pressler said. “Did I expect any jitters tonight? No. Did they show any? No.”

That could change Saturday.

“Canada adds a whole different emotion to this group,” Pressler said. “The emotion of ’06, the four years of talking about a silver medal when our goal is gold – I think it appeals to their emotions in a little different way.”

News & Notes

Team USA’s final 23-man roster submitted Friday had the exact same look of the 23-man roster it unveiled last November. That included defenseman Shawn Nadelen, who started Friday’s opener just five months after knee surgery that required radical rehabilitation. Nadelen tore his ACL in January playing for the Philadelphia Wings. The U.S. carried Parker McKee and Lee Zink as alternates to Manchester, but gave Nadelen the nod. Zink and attackman Kevin Leveille (Mike’s brother) remained with the team as supporters Friday… Mundorf played for Australia in the 2006 world championships when they finished third. “I talked to a lot of the guys during the game and when I see them on campus,” he said. “We know each other…” Pressler said specialist Alex Smith “cold do better on the faceoff.” Team USA’s answer to 2006 world championship MVP Geoff Snider went 13-for-25 against Australia.

Manchester, England

Team USA 21, Australia 5

USA 7-6-3-5...21
AUS 1-1-1-2...5

Goals: USA - Seibald 5, Mundorf 3, Westervelt 2, Leveille 2, Crotty 2, Sweeney 2, Smith, Striebel, Rabil, Martin, Peyser; AUS - Carter 4, Garnsworthy
Assists: USA - Mundorf 2, Boyle 2, Rabil 2, Crotty, Cassese, Dixon, Zash, Leveille, Westervelt; AUS -  Pickett, Perham
Saves: USA - 10 (Dougherty 8, Fullerton 2); AUS - 12
Faceoffs: USA - 15 (Smith 13-of-25; Peyser 2-of-2); AUS - 12

England 12 Germany 3
Canada 17 Japan 4
United States 21 Australia 5

Ireland 21 Korea 3
Slovakia 10 Swizterland 4
Czech Republic 17, Italy 3
Sweden 20 Mexico 2
Hong Kong 10 Norway 8
Scotland 20 Latvia 4
New Zealand 18 France 3
Wales 10, Netherlands 9
Austria 16, Argentina 5
Finland 14 Denmark 2
Poland 16, Bermuda 2

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