by Sean Burns | LaxMagazine.com
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - Behind four points each
from Miles (3G, 1A) and Lyle (2G, 2A) and an
11-save afternoon from goalie Warren Hill, the
Iroquois National Team ran away with a 16-5 win over Australia,
securing its first-ever medal at a senior world championship and
breaking the Sharks' streak of a podium finish at every event
dating back to 1967.
Up by a pair of goals at the halftime break on a relentlessly sunny and hot day on the turf outside of Dick's Sporting Goods Park, the Nationals went on a big run to close out the victory, scoring 10 of the final 12 goals in the contest and gobbling up large sections of clock as the time wound down in the fourth quarter.
"Basically, we just opened it up [in the second half] and started hammering down the alleys with our middies and that seemed to really wear them down," head coach Steve Beville said. "Obviously we've got a lot of skilled guys, so we knew we would be able to score."
Randy Staats joined Miles Thompson in scoring a hat trick for the Nationals, who went 5-3 at the event with two losses to Canada and one to the United States, both of whom play in tonight's gold medal finale. Zach Miller and Mile Lazore had two goals each, while all five of the team's assists came from the Thompson brothers – besides Lyle and Miles, Jeremy and Jerome each had one.
The loss was a tough one for Australia, as they finish 3-5, with a loss to Canada and two each to the Iroquois and United States.
"All credit to the Iroquois, [the heat] just seemed to hit us harder after the half," head coach Glenn Meredith said. "We thought our superior fitness would help put us over the top [with it close at the break], but all of the sudden they were dodging and we were coming up flat-footed."
Anson Carter scored four times for Australia and James Lawerson assisted on three others. For large portions of the second quarter, it looked like Australia was on the verge of putting up a crooked number – they held possession for large stretches and Iroquois defenseman Sid Smith took it upon himself to remind his offense to take its time and pass the ball around on more than one occasion – but the run never materialized.
Instead, the Iroquois move up to third position after this tournament, and with several stars either still in college or recently graduated, the core of their team could be around for at least another cycle or two of FIL senior events after the same core helped them take bronze in each of the previous two U19 tournaments.
"I expected nothing less than for this team to come here and win," Lyle Thompson said. "We beat Australia in the round robin and I didn't expect to lose to them today. We're competing at the highest level and I think it just gets better from here for the Iroquois Nationals."
Despite the disappointing result in the finale and in a semifinal rout at the hands of the United States, Meredith praised his team and its fans for showing up despite getting some of the worst of the weather woes that plagued the tournament's scheduling.
"I'm proud of how these boys put up for this program," he said. "I had a little bit of a cry a moment ago because they didn't deserve to go out playing this badly on the last day. They deserved more but I imagine I'll have a couple of quiet beers with them tonight and make sure they know it."