A record 38 nations descend on Denver to partake in 142 matches over the course of 10 days to determine the winner of the 2014 FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) World Lacrosse Championships.
The international spectacle kicked off on July 10 with a duel between USA and Canada, easily the sport's top rivalry and a rematch of the epic 2010 championship game that saw the United States prevail 12-10 to secure its ninth world title.
Here is a look at the official standings and a breakdown of each day's action as the tournament progresses.
Day 10 Recap
|Sat. 19||Fifth-place game||Scotland 13||England 15|
|Third-place game||Australia 5||Iroquois Nationals 16|
|FIL World Championship game||
Canada is the Champion
For the fifth consecutive time in this event, Canada and the United States squared off in the championship game.
The Americans won four years ago, but it was Canada that controlled the tempo from the opening minutes Saturday and eventually won 8-5. Kevin Crowley led the way for the Canadians with five goals, while goalie Dillon Ward was named the game's MVP thanks to an impressive performance against the mighty United States offense.
Canada used a ball-control and stall tactic throughout much of the game, which helped keep the offense of the Americans at bay. Crowley was able to capitalize on the opportunities when they presented themselves, and the United States didn't show much urgency until the final minutes when the game was basically out of hand.
The crowd wasn't pleased that Canada bled the clock away for much of the contest, but it was hard to argue with the result.
The Canadians were simply the better team Saturday.
England Edges Out Scotland
In an epic rivalry fit for a king, England edged out Scotland in this inter-constitutional monarchy rivalry by a score of 15-13 to take fifth place at the World Lacrosse Championships.
The game was close throughout, with very little separating the two sides. England outshot Scotland 37-34 and won the turnover battle 9-14.
The true hero for the winning side was goalie Ben McAllister, who covered himself in glory throughout the match, making 13 total saves against nine goals allowed. His best work came in the second period, as he made six saves and allowed his team to maintain a narrow 7-6 lead heading into the half.
Jordan McBride led Scotland's attack, scoring five goals in the game. He worked hard throughout the match, but the clincher for England was a dismal third period in which the Scots managed just four shots on goal to England's 11, allowing the latter side to open a 13-8 advantage heading into the fourth period
England was led by Nicholas Watson and Aaron Prosser, who scored three goals apiece in the contest. The team nearly let Scotland back in it in the fourth quarter, but they held on to secure a comforting win after what was a very uneven tournament.
Iroquois Dismantle Australia
The Iroquois Nationals destroyed Australia 16-5 to convincingly take third place at the World Lacrosse Championships.
The Iroquois have put up some of the better numbers in this tournament, proving they can take on nations big and small with ease.
The game was almost a foregone conclusion from the start, with Iroquois jumping out to a 4-1 lead after the first period. Australia got two quick goals from Anson Carter in the second period to make the score 4-3, but the Iroquois answered with two goals of their own to maintain a three-goal lead heading into the half.
The parity was short lived as Iroquois scored 10 second-half goals and shut out Australia in the fourth period to create the final 11-goal differential.
Australia was able to get more than their fair share of opportunities against the Iroquois, as each team notched 34 total shots, but poor shooting overall kept them from making this game competitive.
Nationals goalie Warren Hill came up huge for his team, notching 11 saves over the course of the contest. Miles Thompson and Randy Staats led the Iroquois with three goals each.
Carter was the only Australian truly capable of finishing off the team's attacks, scoring four of their five goals in this drubbing.
Day 9 Recap
Norway Dismantles Slovakia
Norway is taking full command of the Green Division after handing Slovakia a brutal defeat to the tune of 14-3 on Friday.
In the first period, the Norwegians jumped out to a fast start, quickly scoring three goals while maintaining a clean slate. Perhaps the writing was on the wall at this point, at Norway out-shot Slovakia 13-3 in that period.
Things didn't change much in the second, as Norway scored three goals to Slovakia's two, increasing its lead to 5-2. But the Norwegians poured it on once more in the third, scoring four more goals and jumping out to an insurmountable 9-2 lead.
After outscoring Slovakia 4-1 in the fourth, the rout was complete.
Norway was led on offense by J. Norman Hjorth, totaling four goals on seven shots. Also in the mix was Lars Rysst, showing off his well-rounded nature to finish with three goals and two assists.
Belgium Squeezes Past Austria
Belgium just barely got through Austria in regulation by a score of 7-6 on Friday to bring both of their records to 2-3 in the Red Division.
This was a highly defensive game from the start, as the contest wasn't lacking in shots on goal, but defenders maintained solid positions to allow very few good looks to opposing attackers.
Both of these teams remained very close in many statistical categories throughout the duration of the contest; however, Belgium generally came out on the winning side in each. Belgium out-shot Austria 36-32, recorded 16 saves to the Austrian's seven, and only tallied 24 ground balls to Austria's 32.
Still, the Austrians mounted a nice comeback bid in the fourth period, as they were down by two only to outscore their opponents 3-2 over the final minutes to lose by one.
Brendan Murphy and Diego Spillebeen handles the bulk to the work for Belgium, scoring two goals each, while Klaus Hauer was no stranger to his opponent's side of the field, tallying three goals on nine shots for Austria.
Switzerland Completes Comeback Against Netherlands
It was Netherlands that jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the first period, but Switzerland controlled the final three periods to the tune of 8-2 and ultimately won 9-6.
It was a balanced attack that led the way for Switzerland in that comeback. Luis Zurkirchen, Juan Schmid and Joni Schreiber scored two goals apiece, while Felix Stutz, Phillip Sponagel and Thierry Frei all added one of their own.
Netherlands only got goals from two different players. Scott Janssen poured four goals in by himself, and Jelle Tuinhout provided support with two, but it wasn't enough.
It was certainly a disappointing way to cap off the tournament for Netherlands.
Day 8 Recap
|Thurs. 17||Switzerland||2||Czech Republic||8|
United States Blows Past Australia
It seems like destiny.
Team USA also moved past a quality team it had already encountered once in the tournament Thursday, albeit in quite the dominant fashion.
The contest was never close, with the United States jumping out to a 7-0 lead after the first period and seeing eight players score a minimum of two goals, led by David Lawson's four.
As if that weren't staggering enough, Team USA also won the shots battle—45-11. Ditto that for the faceoffs category with a 26-of-29 mark.
The United States seems to be clicking on all cylinders when it matters most as the team looks to repeat as world champs. All that stands in the way yet again is a pesky Canadian side playing a strong brand of intercontinental lacrosse.
Canada Moves Past Iroquois Nationals in Semifinals
For the second time in 10 days, Canada was able to move past Iroquois Nationals, although the first meeting was a much closer affair, 9-8.
Thursday was more lopsided, with the Canadians out-shooting the opposition 38-23 and winning 16-of-21 faceoffs to Iroquois Nationals' 5-of-21 mark.
Canada's Curtis Dickson led the way with a game-high four goals, while Lyle Thompson and Randy Staats' two goals apiece were not enough for Iroquois Nationals, a team that at first glance appeared to have an upset in hand after jumping out to a 4-1 lead after the first period—only to never score again until the fourth.
As a result, Canada moves on for a rematch of the final tilt with the United States from four years ago.
Italy Nudges Poland in Double Overtime
Considering both sides entered Thursday's contest with gigantic goals to goals allowed ratios, it makes sense that the clash between Italy and Poland wound up being a double-overtime classic.
Italy were the aggressors with a 45-39 shots advantage when it was all said and done, and Poland's 23 turnovers to Italy's 12 certainly didn't help things.
Thomas Filbotte put Italy on his back with five goals, while Colin Jesien did the same with five of his own for Poland. The difference was Poland's netminder, Christian Dzwilewski, who struggled in his 89 minutes and change to stop the opposing side.
Wales-Latvia Go to Double Overtime
Wales and Latvia went to a sudden death period Thursday, with 18-year-old Andrew Gresham scoring the winning goal for Wales 39 seconds into the period to cap off an impressive highlight to the day's action.
The game-winner was one of four for Gresham on the day, as he truly put the team on his back as the total numbers show.
Both teams entered after rather dominant showings throughout most of the tournament, but Wales was able to survive in the face of a 44-36 shots disadvantage and committing 19 errors to Latvia's 11.
Outside of Gresham's strong showing, Wales primarily survived because of a strong performance by a pair of goalies— James Richardson and Kyle McAllister. Both stood strong in front of the net for more than 40 minutes apiece.
Wales will play Italy for 17th place Friday and Latvia will play Poland for 19th.
Day 7 Recap
Ireland Thumps Switzerland
The Irish are still undefeated in the World Lacrosse Championship. Their 13-6 win over Switzerland on Wednesday drove their record to a 4-1. Brian Gillis was again the star.
He had four goals on just six shots. This performance followed up a six-goal effort against Bermuda on Tuesday.
While Ireland may not prove to be a match for the United States and Canada's of the world, it has proven already that is still among the top half of the international lacrosse teams on the globe.
Whitford Too Much For Turkey
Italy was the victor in a relatively one-sided consolation contest on Wednesday.
Behind five second-half goals from Steve Whitford, Italy made a close game look like a blowout by the time final second ticked off the clock.
At one point early in the third quarter, Turkey had pulled to within a goal at 4-3, but Italy turned on the defense and Whitford supplied most of the firepower.
He spearheaded a 7-0 run to finish the game.
Austria Outlasts Thailand
Heading into the fourth quarter, the score was tied at six, but Austria's performance in the final quarter proved to be the difference.
It outscored Thailand 4-1 in the final frame to pull out the win. Klaus Hauer had two of the four goals in the fourth, and three for the game in total.
Neither team is making a ton of noise in the tournament, but simply securing a win had to feel good for the Austrians.
Day 6 Recap
Turkey Overcomes Slovakia in OT
Turkey and Slovakia had not exactly put on exceptional performances through the opening days of the tournament, so it was only right the two sides put on one to remember Tuesday.
Overtime thrillers are rare, but fans were in for a treat with the game going to double overtime. The two sides were ridiculously close throughout, as noted by the slim 36-34 shots advantage held by Slovakia.
Coincidentally enough, that was not a number that would secure a victory. Led by Hunter Barnett's two goals and strong netminding from Jacob Adoni, Turkey was able to outlast the opposition in the end.
Korea Destroys Costa Rica
For a team that had yet to win a game going into Tuesday's festivities, what Korea did to Costa Rica was the definition of unexpected.
A 20-goal margin is no joke at any level, and that applies to the international scene, too. Korea had seven players register a minimum of two goals, with Jae Chun Lee and Bumsuck Yoo leading the way with four apiece.
When a team is outshot 52-16, this tends to be the end result. It would appear momentum now favors the Koreans.
Day 5 Recap
Latvia Routs Spain
In a game that was never close, the Latvians took care of Spain 21-3. Spain netted goals from Danny de la Casa (2) and David Sanchez, while four Latvia players had at least three goals—Eli Lasda (4), Arturs Krastins (4), Christopher Zarins (3) and Glebs Supenko (3).
Both teams entered play with 1-2 records, but now go in very different directions.
China Edges Argentina
China and Argentina played in a close one on Monday, but China was able to outlast its opponent. Tyler Buchan led the charge, as he netted five goals to give his team the advantage.
Argentina received two-goal contributions from Nik Hodosy-Brander and Mariano Nakada, but neither could hold a candle to Buchan on this day.
Both teams were 0-3 entering play.
Scotland Takes Down Finland
Kyle Buchanan netted three goals for Scotland, and teammates Jimmy and Jordan McBride combined for three as well. Jordan's two goals were just as impressive as his two assists in the game.
Nick Ranta was the only player to score for Finland in the game. He recorded two goals and an assist.
Both teams were undefeated entering play, so Finland will drop to 3-1 with the result.
Day 4 Recap
|Sun. 13||Wales||5||New Zealand||13|
Sunday's action was key as it relates to the top teams in each division. Some teams looked to punch their ticket to the next round. Many of the remaining 2-0 squads in each division faced off.
In some cases, the superior team was made plain. In others, we saw spirited and competitive contests.
Amazing Finish in Canada-Iroquois Match
Iroquois v Canada : This is as good as it gets. I feel special just witnessing it! #teachme— Adam Ghitelman (@AGhitelman8) July 14, 2014
In what was probably the best played and most dramatic game of the tournament thus far, Canada held off a game and previously undefeated Iroquois squad thanks to a late goal from Curtis Dickson.
Iroquois had rallied from a 6-1 deficit at halftime to pull even with a goal by Randy Staats in the fourth quarter.
In clutch fashion, Dickson found the back of the net with just 19 seconds remaining to give the Canadians the tough victory.
Wales Is No Match for New Zealand
Defense continues to be the predominant weapon for New Zealand. In the 13-5 win over Wales, New Zealand proved it is the class of the Plum Division. For the third straight game, the team held its opponent to single-digit scoring.
New Zealand has outscored opponents by a whopping 48-12. Adam Clayton had six goals to lead his team to victory. The win also made the team the first to advance to the round of 16.
New Zealand Wins the Plum Division over Wales to 13-5 and is the first team to advance to the round of 16. Congrats to the Kiwis! #WorldLax— Lacrosse Talk (@Lacrosse_Talk) July 13, 2014
Czech Republic Outlasts Poland
In a relatively low-scoring game, the Czech Republic became the second team to advance to the next round. Its 9-8 win over Poland sent the team to a 3-0 record and made it the best of the Grey Division.
Radek Skala had three goals and Jonathan Munk added two to pace the winners. In a losing effort, Colin Jesien had three goals.
Poland's eight goals represented by far the most an opponent had tallied against the Czech Republic. The winners of the Grey Division had only surrendered one and two goals to Costa Rica and Turkey, respectively.
Germany Smashes Hong Kong
Sunday was a great day for Germany field sports teams. On the same day when the Germans won the 2014 World Cup in soccer, the lacrosse team destroyed Hong Kong 21-2 to advance out of the Red Division.
There was little doubt as to which team was the best in this group.
A six-goal effort from Simon Giourmetakis and stifling defense from the Germans made the rout possible.
Team USA Continues to Dominate
After Sunday's 21-3 beatdown of Japan, the United States is head and shoulders above every team in the Blue Division—and most likely the world.
Ned Crotty led a balanced American attack with four goals. Garrett Thul and Kevin Leveille each had three apiece. This is the type of hard-hitting action the Americans brought to the field on Sunday:
A slightly bigger test against England is next for Team USA.
Day 3 Recap
|Costa Rica||1||Czech Republic||18|
As CEO of US Lacrosse, Steve Stenersen, captures, though, the weather eventually took a dramatic shift:
The action raged on with plenty of lopsided margins and a few close contests on a day highlighted by serious favorites sending a message to the rest of the bracket. Let's take a look.
Sweden Bounces Back
Not 24 hours removed from getting destroyed at the hands of Israel, 19-4, Sweden turned things around on Saturday with a 21-5 blowout of Korea.
Korea looked all sorts of discombobulated in the contest, scoring an own goal in the first quarter and eventually falling behind 9-2 at halftime. Kevin Powers led the way for Sweden with eight goals and five assists.
Germany Blows Out Austria
Thanks to a total team effort, the German side came out victorious over Austria 20-2 on Saturday, with Chris Mattes' faceoff performance (16-for-17) as the primary reason:
A total of 10 different players scored for Germany, with Simon Giourmetakis leading the way with six. For Austria, Klaus Hauer and Valentin Bombosch's lone goal apiece simply were not enough in the face of the onslaught.
Spain Routs Colombia
Spain followed a similar formula to grab the 14-2 victory over Colombia on Saturday, which in turn brought the team's record back to .500 after a rough first outing against Mexico.
Danny de la Casa scored four times and saw his side up 6-1 by the half before they cruised to victory. Ryan Viadero added three scores and two assists in the victory.
Norway Edges Netherlands in Overtime
In one of the closest games of the tournament, Norway came through with an incredible late victory over the Netherlands.
Neither side in this matchup went up more than two goals at any point as the two teams kept things even throughout. It eventually went into overtime when Norway's Thomas Laycock scored with two minutes left in regulation to make it 10-10.
After a scoreless first overtime, the Dutch took the lead in the second overtime.
However, Per-Arne Winsnes Kvalvag evened things up with 18 seconds left, followed by Lars Rysst scoring the game-winner with eight seconds left to give Norway the win.
United States Continues Strong Start
Although there were a number of injuries throughout the day, the United States moved to 2-0 in the tournament with a 16-7 win over Australia.
Lane Errington of U.S. Lacrosse discusses the reserves who stepped up:
The match was close throughout the first half and into the second, with Australia trailing just 8-5. However, the Americans turned on the offense to pull away late and get a big second win in this tournament.
Day 2 Recap
Friday was the first full day of action, and the play was fast and furious. There were some absolute routs and a couple of close games.
First, a closer look at a few of the beatdowns.
Finland Smashes Colombia 19-0
Colombia only managed five shots in one of the most lopsided contests you'll ever see. It was no match for a Finnish team led by seven goals from Jarno Aaltonen and three goals apiece from Rick Sainthill and Roope Jokela.
It's too early to tell whether Finland is this good or if Colombia is just that far behind the competition. Time will tell in future matchups in the tournament.
Scotland Thrashes Thailand 24-3
Thailand got two goals from Cameron Chinvarakorn, but not much else. Scotland blitzed its opposition with a tournament-high 24 goals on Friday.
Jordan McBride's seven goals led the onslaught. Scotland won 20 of the 28 faceoffs and maintained control of the ball and momentum of the match throughout.
It jumped out to a 6-1 lead after the first period and never looked back.
Netherlands Destroys China 19-4
Perhaps if the Chinese could have cloned Tyler Buchan, they might have had a better chance to compete with the Netherlands on Friday. Buchan scored three of his team's four goals, but still took the loss with the rest of his countrymen.
Scott Janssen led the Netherlands with six goals, and Graham Bergsma was an effective facilitator with three assists.
Bermuda Bests France 9-7
Trailing 6-4 heading into the fourth period, France had a chance to make a move on Bermuda. It tied the game with a goal by Kevin Bertrand at the 6:59 mark of the fourth period, but defense failed the French late.
Stephen Michel broke the tie and Drew Jenkins added an insurance goal with just under three minutes remaining to give Bermuda the win.
Australia Tops Japan in OT 14-13
Japan led by as much as 10-7 in the fourth quarter against Australia, but a late comeback forced overtime. In the extra period, Nigel Morton put one past the Japanese to secure the 14-13 victory.
Few of the games on Friday were down to the wire and hotly contested, but Australia and Japan played in a rare barnburner that went to two overtimes. It was just the second OT thriller of the day, with Hong Kong earlier topping Austria.
Day 1 Recap
USA 10, Canada 7
After a thrilling opening ceremony, both sides entered the opening matchup in Denver flaunting national pride, as U.S. Lacrosse captures:
While some turnover is to be expected, the two sides clearly understood each other, having been the two most dominant forces in the world and the participants of the last four title games.
The Canadians would strike first thanks to a pretty shot from Mark Matthews in what would prove to be his only goal of the contest, as well as the lone goal of what was a defensive-minded first quarter as the two sides felt each other out.
The prevalent story of that quarter, though, was the excellent play of Canadian netminder Dillon Ward, who survived offensive onslaught after offensive onslaught in the early goings, as Team Canada Lacrosse helps to illustrate:
That defense bled into the second, where Canada was able to take a 3-0 lead after goals by Curtis Dickson and Jeremy Noble, respectively.
The outlook rather bleak, the United States and former MVP and All-World selection Paul Rabil withstood the early siege, made adjustments and went on a six-goal tear.
Kevin Buchanan was first to find the back of the net on a nice shot with an assist from Rabil, and Garrett Thul—a great story thanks to his currently being on special exemption from the Army to participate—followed shortly thereafter with a goal of his own.
Funnily enough, Buchanan then slipped another past Ward before Rabil himself got on the board as well.
After a brief pause for halftime with the score at 6-3, USA had little trouble continuing its momentum and saw captain Kevin Leveille score his first goal of the tournament to essentially put the game out of reach:
It would be eight goals in a row in total for the United States before the Canadians were able to put through a fourth late in the third quarter. By then, the game was over, especially with Rob Pannell connecting on back-to-back goals in that quarter.
Canada did show off some semblance of fight with three goals in the final frame, but to no avail. Still, as Peter Koutroumpis of Triangle Sports Network notes, Ward's numbers were superb:
To be blunt, Ward's stat line alone suggests the USA is already back to its pristine form and possibly head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Minor hiccups aside to kick things off, it seems at least one of the contenders is already poised to make a return trip to the final.
How the rest of the field fares with that knowledge in hand will be revealed in the coming days.