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LAX Herald Sunday - July 7, 2002
Iroquois tradition kicks off games
By Nicole Atkins
IROQUOIS spiritual leaders took to the field for the first World Lacrosse Championship game to perform the traditional tobacco burning ceremony. As players from the Iroquois Nations, England and Canada huddled around a pile of burning hickory, Mohawk medicine man Eddie Gray threw sacred tobacco onto the mound and prayed in his native tongue. Mr Gray prayed for good weather during the championships and guidance and protection from injury for all players. "Lacrosse can be a violent game, and there could be severe injury, so I asked the creator to watch over everyone," he said. The tobacco ceremony also signifies the Iroquois origins of the game, which can be traced back to the 1600s. The ceremony takes place prior to every traditional Iroquois meeting and according to Mr Gray helps to focus the players prior to the game. "It reminds you of everything on earth and makes you appreciate it," he said.
Youthful Americans silence critics
By Rhonda Plenty
THE USA continued its dominance of international lacrosse with a 22-6 victory over the Iroquois Nationals last night. A youthful USA began its onslaught following a 12 minute goal drought by Scott Doyle, which was quickly followed by four unanswered goals. Iroquois stood up to the pressure both at goals and over the field but lacked consistency and dominant players. Iroquois official Oren Lyons said the unusual officialling made his players 'jittery'. "If you add up the high number of penalties it meant they (Iroquois) played a man down through three quarters of the match," Lyons said. USA consistently beat the Iroquois out of the centre and continued the pressure with a strong midfield and good forwards. The Iroquois came into their own in the second half with the help of the inspirational goalie Chris Hopps. Hopps' agility and speed deflected multiple tries and raised the team's overall confidence after 16 minutes of fouls at half time. But the American players did not come out unscathed with many being checked heavily by the traditional wooden sticks used only by the Iroquois. With the Iroquois going up against England today Mr Lyons said he was looking forward to an interesting match. USA will play Australia today at 4pm.
IT WAS only the first day of the
tournament, however the word
quickly spreading around the
UWA Sports Complex was of the
Korean team's impressive display
against New Zealand yesterday
afternoon that had one top ILF
official labelling the team as
Sweet success for Team Ireland
By Nicole Atkins
IRELAND marked their first international lacrosse match in 70 years with a 16-1 win over Hong Kong. Hong Kong's poor communication and ball handling skills enabled Ireland to gain easy possession of the ball to score ten goals in the first half. The highlight of Hong Kong's game came when the youngest man on the field, 17-year-old Christopher Kwok Keung Li used some fancy footwork to score the team's first goal. Peter Soden was consistent in Ireland's attack on goal, as were Kevin Dowd, Brian McGettigan and Dan Daley. At the start of the second half, with the scoreboard 10-1 in Ireland's favour, the ball stayed primarily in their half. Within a matter of seconds the first goal of the half had been scored by Ireland's Kevin Dowd. Hong Kong shaped up later in the second half, with better communication and a focus on defence rather than attack. Hong Kong effectively defended their goal, while the Irish attackers passed the ball around, looking for an opportunity to score. Clever footwork from Hong Kong's Wing Kei Lau almost landed the team their second goal. Ireland's coach, Richie Moran, said he was pleased with the result. Moran said the players were proud to be representing their nation in such an historic event. Hong Kong midfielder Ho Yin Lai said their team was hoping to gain valuable experience from the competition. The Hong Kong team has been together for one and a half years.
Canada survives opening match scare
By Jessica Vanderende
CHAMPIONSHIP favourites Canada survived a scare last night overcoming a goalless first quarter to beat England 13-9. Canadian head coach Frank Nielsen played down the win and said he was dissapointed the match was so tight and the team started so slowly. Nielsen said they needed to focus on what their jobs were. "[Canadian players are] supposed to be great sticks but they threw the ball away," he said. England began the match in impressive style with two goals in the first minute, the first fittingly scored by co-captain Daren Baythorpe. When Canada's defence became more desperate and physical, England responded with its own show of force resulting in the match's first personal foul and allowing them to reach quarter time three goals up. Canada quickly made their presence known in the second quarter with Chris Gill getting his team's first goal on the board. But the half-time score of 5-5 did not reflect England's domination of the first half. While Canada's stick checks were physical and often brutal, on occasion resulting in illegal body check fouls, England's defence was effective usually coming away with the ball. England's head coach Dave Elwood agreed his team's first half was better than he could have hoped. "We played the game well without a shadow of doubt, I think [Canada] only had possession for about one minute," he said. In the second half these roles were reversed and although England still regularly held possession, Canada made the most of their opportunities. Elwood lamented the number of turnovers in the second half and said they were England's main problem. "Our feet stopped moving ... turnovers increased," he said. Canada moved faster into attack and easily cleared a path to the goals while England had to work harder for their only goal in the third quarter. The final quarter became a battle of wills as tired players became more desperate and checks became more brutal. Both coaches confirmed there were no injuries and they would have full strength teams for their next matches. "There was a lot of bruising but nothing that will keep them off the field," said Elwood.
Championship reversal for Scots
By Vanessa Frzop
SCOTLAND reversed the result of May's British Lacrosse Championship final by beating Wales 14-7. Kyle Arbuckle scored Scotland's first goal in the opening quarter of the game, taking Welsh goalie John Hudson by surprise. The Welsh supporters rallied and livened up the atmosphere with cheers of encouragement, but within ten minutes Scotland's Gerry Donaghy darted through and scored his team's second goal. Scotland regrouped and put forward all their energy into blocking Wales's attempt at scoring a goal. They were successful until the last two minutes when Max Agee, a fast running Welsh midfielder, managed to break through the defence and score a goal. The Welsh team came back onto the field with renewed vigor scoring an additional two goals spurring on Scotland to retaliate with three goals. Wales's dominant players were Max Agee and Jonathan Newall, two fast midfielders who scored four of Wales seven goals. Scotland's Merv Davies clinched the game by scoring two goals in the last quarter, increasing Scotland's lead to seven. Wales still has a chance to redeem themselves when it faces off against Sweden today.
Japan fulfils prediction
By Daniel Emerson
PRE-TOURNAMENT predictions that Japan would be the team to watch in Red Division were validated at the main stadium yesterday, as Sweden went down 19-4 against the speedy Asian team. A pumped-up Sweden burst out of the blocks to take a 2-0 lead and maintained possession early on in the first quarter, but simply could not contain Team Japan, who recovered after missing some early chances to finish the quarter leading 4-3. Japan soon found their rhythm, restricting Sweden to a solitary goal for the rest of the match which came in the final term. Japan piled on eight goals in the second term to set up the comprehensive win, with top scorer Shinya Maruyama scoring five of his six goals during the period. A scoreboard malfunction left many spectators in the dark as to the exact score, but one Swedish supporter remarked midway through the the third quarter that he didn't want to know anyway. Japan delighted their chanting fans with a swift, skillful display highlighted by blistering counter-attacks and disciplined defence. After being restricted to two goals in the third quarter, Japan ran away with the match with five goals in the final term. The Asians shared the scoring between nine different goalscorers. Spurred on by the crowd, Goalie Hidekazu Yoshida almost got into the act as well, running the length of the field on two occasions before being thwarted by the Swedish defence. Swedish co-coach Chuck Wohltmann said his team was hurt by the speed of the Japanese, but maintained his team had a number of positives to build on. "[The Japanese] were great. We didn't play our own game well enough," he said. "We had a pretty good first quarter and then fell apart a lot in the second quarter. I think it was a little difficult for us to come back after that. "We realise the mistakes that we made today, and I think it was good playing Japan first and the speed they have... we learned a lot today." Team Japan head coach Makoto Sato said his defence did a good job after being tested early on in the match. Japan will surely push for future inclusion in the Blue Division if they can replicate yesterday's performance throughout the rest of the tournament.
Germans begin with a win
GERMANY has defeated the Czech Republic 11-7 after starting out strong, with their defenders keeping the Czechs at bay early in the game. Christopher McAulay was effective in attack, scoring most of Germany's goals in the first half. The Czechs put up a solid front with their exceptional ball skills, and former Olympic sprinter Martin Mrlik in midfield. Germany lost concentration in the second half, creating opportunies for the Czechs to score more goals. German team manager, Tim Gruenke, said the teams were familiar with one another, as they compete often at home.
Fast Koreans stun NZ
By Jessica Vanderende
KOREA proved be the big surpise of Green Division, shocking New Zealand with their speed and impressive skills in a 23-2 win. "It's a great win, very exciting for the players," Korea's head coach John Haus said. "This is their first opportunity at the World Championships and will go down as a first ever championship win for Korea." Korea stunned New Zealand's goalkeeper with an astonishing 15 unanswered goals in the first half. "We had talented attackmen, good stick skills, won the face-offs and had the best defence since we've been playing together," Haus said. Cortland Kyoung-Jin Kim was the highest scorer with five goals, including three in the first half. New Zealand player/coach Mark Freemon admitted his role was difficult. "As a player you're meant to focus on your own game but as a coach you're meant to focus on the whole game," he said. Despite the final scoreline Freemon refused to be disapointed and credited his players' effort up against Korea's excellent skills. Freemon said NZ reacted to Korea and had not played their own game. "We're short on experience but long on enthusiasm ... for them to get better they need to play at this level ... it's a learning curve for them," he said. Both coaches said their teams were looking forward to their next games and enjoying their time at the championships. Haus said he was unfamiliar with most of the teams in Green Division but their next game was against Ireland who he credited as the best team in the division. After Korea's impressive results yesterday, Ireland's position as favourite may be disputed.