July 14, 2013

U.S. Scores Big in Win over Rival Australia

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Stats | Press Release/In-Game Blog

OSHAWA, Ontario -- The U.S.-Australia game has traditionally been a passionate but low-scoring women's lacrosse rivalry. The last time the two teams met in Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) play, in the 2009 Women's World Cup final in Prague, the Americans won 8-7. Once, the Australians eked out a 2-1 victory in pool play during the 1989 games in Perth, Australia.

That was not the case Sunday in Oshawa. The U.S-Australia game had both passion and points, as the Americans raced to an 18-9 victory. It was the highest combined score in the history of the matchup in FIL play, topping the 2001 championship in High Wycombe, England, which the U.S. won 14-8.

Katrina Dowd's six goals against Australia on Sunday were one shy of a U.S. team record.
©JC Pinheiro

"We score a ton of goals when you have seven people who can finish the ball," Team USA attacker Katrina Dowd said.

Actually, nine different players scored for the U.S., led by Dowd (6g, 1a).

Still, it was the Australians who struck first, scoring on a fast break by Lyndsey Paton (2g) and then again on a crease roll by Hannah Nielsen (3g). The U.S. responded with two goals in 19 seconds, tying the game 2 at the 22:01 mark. The teams then traded points for several more minutes, until the U.S. went on a seven-goal run that put the game out of reach. By halftime, Team USA led 11-5 despite Australian goalie Elizabeth Hinkes' seven saves in the first period.

The U.S. used an 18-11 draw advantage to control possession, and the attack showed its versatility when smart crease play from Australian defenders Alicia Wickens  and Tess McLeod took away the easy assists from behind the cage.

"Our game plan was pretty much to go out and evaluate the defense. Were they going to be aggressive, or were they going to sit back? The first couple minutes, we were feeling each other out. Once we did that, we found a way to put it in the net," U.S. offensive coordinator Liz Robertshaw said. "We have set offenses and set looks that we're trying to do, but you've got to see what the team is going to bring you on the defensive end and react from there. If we could dodge hard and draw some of those double teams, which we did, we'd open up the crease and the inside."

After that, the goals game fast and furious. Midfielder Sarah Bullard had a hat trick, all on free position shots. Kristin Igoe scored twice in the second half on beautiful dodges. Dowd's first four goals were assisted; the last two came one-on-one, including an over-the-shoulder shot right on the edge of the crease.

"We just had to find a balance of dodging up top and attacking from behind," Dowd said.

Five different Australian players scored, led by Nielsen's hat trick. The U.S. had a 35-15 advantage on shots, and Team USA attacker Lindsey Munday (1g, 4a) won player of the match.

"My teammates were open and made great cuts to find things well. I just put the ball in their sticks and they did the hard work and finished it," Munday said.

Dowd's six goals were one shy of tying a Team USA single-game record set by Karen Yohannan in 1989 against Scotland. Munday scored six against Japan in 2009, as did Quinn Carney againt Canada in 2005.

Australia fell to 1-2 in round robin play, while the U.S. improved to 3-0. Team USA will put that perfect record to the test on Tuesday when it faces host Canada (3-0).

"We're excited," Munday said. "It's a new game. Canada's hosting, so they're going to come in with a lot of pride. We can't rely on this game, or on any past games."

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