This unbalanced match certainly didn't start the way Canada intended. Within the first couple of minutes, Germany found themselves in the lead 1-0 after a superb fast-break goal, and pressuring Canada into sloppy passes and turnovers. The cowbell-shakers were in seventh heaven! And it took over 8 minutes for Canada to take the lead 2-1, although they quickly extended this lead to 7-2 by quarter time. The German defence struggled with their 6-man zone against the strong and mobile Canadian attack. Germany also learned that it's not a good idea to leave the defence to substitute off while the world champions are attacking.
Still, 7-2 down is not a terrible quarter-time score against such opponents, and shows that Germany are certainly not out of their depth here in the blue division. Their ground-ball chasing was impressive and their attacks threatening when they got the ball. However they struggled to find the target in the second quarter, and even when presented with a man-up offence they ran out of ideas and failed to convert. By half-time Canada had made the lead comfortable at 12-3 and were moving the ball around with ease.
In the third quarter, the German team were unable to score despite plenty of possession, and Canada powered ahead to 17-3. Their fast sticks made it very difficult to defend against them, and the rout continued into the fourth quarter up to the final score of 23-4. It may be some consolation to the German team that the result was not that much different from the losses which Canada inflicted on both Australia and Japan, and the cowbell-ringing spectators certainly enjoyed the performance.
England got a good start to this match, going ahead 1-0 and keeping well in the game at 1-1. But then Paul Rabil, 99 for the USA, found his shooting boots and after a flurry of left-handed rockets, the USA were suddenly up 5-1.
In the second quarter, England had a chance with man-up after an unnecessary roughness penalty for the USA. But instead of exploiting the man-up situation and bringing the scores closer, England gave away a sloppy "too many men on the pitch" penalty, and gave the ball away to the USA who could then run down the penalty easily. A solo effort from England number 11 brought the score back to 7-2, after a spectacular clear from the keeper Ben McAllister. There were also great cheers from the crowd when the England ride forced mistakes from the USA clear and their keeper was forced out on the halfway line for a turnover.
The second quarter was a much better quarter for England, going into halftime just 8-2 down. At the start of the third quarter, however, the USA number 11 won a sequence of crucial faceoffs, giving the USA repeated fast breaks and scoring chances. USA 91 likes his drama though, instead of taking small pushes as most players do, he flung himself full length on the floor and stayed there, looking up at the referee, waiting before springing back to his feet. And then when the penalty was called (for a 'hold'), he punched his teammate's glove in celebration. Not quite diving in the football sense but the closest thing I've seen so far and unusual at this level.
The third quarter again saw a flurry of US goals but England kept them at bay for some time at the end, ending the quarter 13-3. If some of the English breaks had been more controlled then it could have been quite a bit closer.
Interestingly when England were playing man-down, they played a four-man zone instead of a five-man zone, and kept one man dedicated to shadowing 99 Paul Rabil. But he just kept well out of the way and let the other five attackers pick apart the four-man zone for another goal.
The final quarter was a bit more cagey but both sides had chances and both defences made good rescues. The USA keeper made some good saves but allowed two more England goals in the last minute, ending the match at 17-5. This was a heavy defeat but a fairly respectable score for England in a game which they were expected to lose heavily. Their 6-man zone looked better but still leaky, and one got the feeling that the USA could have scored more if they had wanted to. But the USA are already safely through to the semifinals, whereas England are not (yet).
Australia came into the game as obvious favourites, being regular semifinal participants and ranked 3rd in the last championships. Yet they'd already been heavily defeated by USA and Canada this time, and had a close shave in overtime against England, so this team are clearly not on their previous form. And they had a horror start in this game too, with Japan running rings around the Australian defenders and going up to a 4-1 lead by quarter-time. Again the Japanese speed and teamwork were impressive, with attractive lacrosse and plenty of shots.
In the second quarter, the Australian defence switched to a very passive zone, letting the Japanese pass the ball around with plenty of space, rather than pressing them for the turnover. Presumably this switch was made as a result of the roastings which the one-on-one defence was getting from the quick Japanese. However, the Japanese were extremely unlucky with some strange refereeing calls, missing at least two very suspect pushes in the back, but giving a very dubious turnover for a "stall" (even though the Japanese were inside the Australian area). Japan persisted with their possession despite these calls and came up to an astonishing 5-1 just before half-time.
When Australia had the ball, they could use their size and strength, and passed well, but they struggled to get their shots on target and gave up turnovers too easily. At halftime though, the officials' howlers continued, with long delays while they discussed their rule interpretations with the Japanese coach and more delays while they fixed the clock.
All this disrupted the Japanese game, and in the third quarter, the Australians managed to claw their way back to 5-5, partly due to mistakes from the second Japanese keeper. Sure enough, the first keeper number 1 came back on but the defence was still ducking out of the way of the Aussie shots, helping to screen them.
Australia had a period with two men down, thanks to clumsy checking, but managed to escape and stay level. Only afterwards did Japan pull ahead 6-5 with a nice movement, and in the process also went man-up due to another clumsy head-check. This led to another goal 7-5 to Japan and a pivotal lead.
Just at the end of the third quarter, after a timeout, an extraordinary trick play by Japan stunned everyone, even themselves. The Japanese number 4 took the ball to his teammate number 8, but then ran off, cradling hard and driving towards goal, shouting for his cutters. The whole of the defence were following the faker, but the real ball carrier, number 8, was able to sneak slowly up to the goal and just slot it in while the keeper was looking the other way. The Aussies couldn't believe it, the crowd couldn't believe it, and the Japanese didn't seem able to believe that it had worked either. Extraordinary scenes, and a great uplifting ending to the third quarter at 8-5.
Into the fourth quarter, with Australia down, they continued to sit in their 6-man zone without pressuring the Japanese attack and inexplicably just letting them run down the clock. Japan took their time to work the ball around and pulled ahead to 10-5. A sequence of penalties (one of which a very dubious push call) let Australia pull back to 10-7, and a well-worked cut move made it 10-8. Nerves in the Japanese camp.
Another quick exchange of goals and an impressive domination of possession at the end for Japan, brings an outstanding result 11-9, and a shock result for both teams. This makes the battle for the top four places in the blue division (who will be able to go through to the semifinals) down to the wire between Australia, Japan and England.#
Korea 10, Mexico 9
Scotland 17, Czech Republic 14
Austria 15, France 4
New Zealand 11, Switzerland 3
Latvia 12, Hong Kong 10
Wales 9, Finland 7
Canada 23, Germany 4
Netherlands 16, Spain 1
Slovakia 14, Norway 4
Japan 11, Australia 9
Italy 13, Argentina 9
Poland 14, Bermuda 10
Ireland 12, Sweden 7
USA 17, England 5