This game turned into one of the highlights of the early round, with plenty of goals and great performances from both teams. Germany came into the match as underdogs, playing usually in lower divisions and only having one blue division game (a defeat against England) under their belt.
Surprisingly, Germany took an early 2-0 lead and even extended it to 6-3, with plenty of settled possession and well-worked moves. The German team had a distinct size advantage and used it with some heavy checking, not all of which was as disciplined as it could have been. In particular, pushes in the back, many of which came late, punished the Japanese but resulted in penalties which punished the German defence. However, throughout the first half, the Japanese couldn't pick the German 5-man zone apart as well as the German team could pick apart the Japanese defence. Interestingly the Japanese were running a lot of 6-man zone defence rather than man-on-man.
In contrast, the Japanese team played a very disciplined game and barely spent any time man-down. Also in their first game against Canada, Japan played extremely cleanly. They are also quick and their stick skills are impressive. Yet they still went to half-time trailing 8-6 against a motivated German side.
The second half saw the Japanese controlling more possession, negotiating their way through some intense German rides, and pulled back level. Going into the final quarter they managed to find another gear, sharpened their shooting, and ran away from the tiring Germans. With more possession from the face-offs, and relentless pressure, they managed an unanswered 6-goal streak and ran away with a 15-9 victory at full-time.
The final scoreline doesn't do justice to the German side, who led for much of the game and gave very respectable competition throughout. After their sudden promotion to the blue division, they have done exceptionally well so far and gave the Japanese team a real scare. Credit to the Japanese though, who dug deep and fought for a good victory after an exciting game.
A low-scoring first half provided fewer thrills than anticipated, with both teams playing cagey and defensive lacrosse. There weren't many goals but several of them were opportunistic fast breaks, such as Kyle Sweeney's longstick solo trickery from midfield for the USA, and Billy Dee Smith's solo sprint down the whole length of the pitch for Canada.
Both teams played strong, hard defences, with plenty of movement, slides and double-teams. This made it difficult for both teams to score, despite intense effort and pressure. At quarter-time the USA were up 3-2, but the game was still wide open.
Canada then had a good run in the second quarter, going into halftime leading 5-3, although USA were unlucky to have one of their goals disallowed. The replays showed that the ball did cross the line and bounce back out again from the base pipes, but the referees didn't see it and play continued. Frank Lampard knows how that feels.
The second half continued in a similar vein, with Canada still spending long periods with the ball. However, the USA managed to convert more of their chances and brought the score back level to 6-6 by three-quarter time. There was still a huge number of illegal procedures during faceoff, and many unforced errors and turnovers, which is not what many had expected from this top-level game. They also maybe hadn't expected the late hits, penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, and sloppy moving picks.
The teams seemed to wait until the fourth quarter before turning on the style. A sequence of fantastic goals gave Canada an 8-6 lead, and the USA brought it back immediately 8-7. Canada managed to defend their sleder one-goal lead up to 10-9, but in the closing minutes seemed to lose their composure and concentrate too much on the clock rather than on the lacrosse. Trying too hard to waste the clock, they made sloppy back-passes all the way back to the goalie, gave away possession, called timeouts, and in the end were lucky to get away with their time-wasting and finish the game 10-9. An anticlimactic end to a very close and exciting game.
England suffered a horror start to this critical match, with Australia dominating the first period and peppering the England goal. Meanwhile England's nervous attempts to relieve the pressure just led to clumsy mistakes. Thanks to the goalkeeper Ben McAllister the score was kept down to a reasonable 3-0, before England finally got on the scoresheet thanks to a man-up play and an impressive whirlwind passing manoeuvre.
Through the second quarter, Australia continued to dominate with slick moves, and two superb goals took their lead up to 5-2. However the pendulum swung and England enjoyed a period of good possession in the third quarter (and enjoyed a controversial goal to boot), fighting back to 7-5 down at three-quarter time.
With the majority of the crowd cheering them on, Tom Gosnay scored an individual effort to bring the deficit down to 1 goal, Adam Sear extended it back up to 2 with just 7 minutes left, but then almost immediately an England fast break narrowed it back to 8-7. The icing on the cake, and one to delight the crowd, was a lovely pirouette into the crease from Adrian Bennett, making the game level for the first time, with just minutes remaining.
Unbelievably the score stayed at 8-8 for the last few nailbiting minutes, forcing the game into overtime. The pace didn't slow in overtime either, with frenetic passing and breaks. Australia pressed patiently and got one goal in the first 4-minute overtime period, despite solid English defence.
In the second period, Adam Sear added another superb individual effort to go two goals clear and put the game beyond England's reach. A deserved win for Australia after an extremely tense match, which ended a lot closer than expected with great credit also to the England team. They didn't lead the game at any stage, but the fightback from 6-2 down to 8-8 at full time was a spectacular crowd-pleaser.
Sweden 16, Italy 3
Czech Republic 21, Mexico 1
Spain 11, Norway 8
Poland 15, Denmark 5
Switzerland 10, Korea 6
Finland 11, Bermuda 5
Japan 15, Germany 9
Ireland 23, Slovakia 4
Netherlands 29, Argentina 3
Scotland 18, New Zealand 8
Australia 10, England 8
Wales 19, Austria 0
Latvia 16, France 6
Canada 10, USA 9