HAVERFORD, Pa. -- The rain that finally broke the oppressive heat wave yesterday did nothing to extinguish the United States' chances of winning the first Leader/International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations' Under-19 World Championships.
In the tournament opener, a blistering fast break sparked the United States to a 6-5 comeback victory over another early favorite, Australia, at Haverford College.
"This was a gigantic win," said attacker Tice Burke, who scored two goals in a second-half USA rally. "This has been said to be what the final game will be -- between us and Australia -- so it's great to have this one."
Six hours later, the Americans, paced by Megan Riley's seven assists, made it a perfect day as the rain subsided in a 14-0 romp over Scotland. Jacque Weitzel, Amity Wall and Emily Fenwick each had three goals.
Scotland could muster nowhere near the defensive pressure that Australia used to stifle the Americans in the opener.
Australia's Sarah Aston (three goals) scored first to help her team build a 3-1 lead while the Americans struggled with their set offense. They could not figure out how to penetrate Australia's packed-in zone.
"I had absolutely no idea what they were doing," said Burke, a St. Paul's graduate. "They just sort of lined up at the eight [meter line] -- everyone from their first home to their point. I think we were a little jittery, so they got a couple quick goals. It took until the second half where our conditioning really paid off."
After Riley's free-position goal pulled the USA within 3-2 at the half, the Americans started beating the Australian defenders on the break. Weitzel dropped a precision pass low to Burke in front of the goal for a quick shot to tie.
Just 24 seconds later, Burke made a spin move off Kristin Off's feed to give the USA its first lead, 4-3, barely five minutes into the half. After a strong defensive stand, the USA's transition struck again as Off hit Riley for the second of her three goals.
That two-goal edge held off the Aussies even though the USA turned over the ball four times trying to stall away much of the last 10 minutes.
In addition to the quick-strike offense, the USA also bolstered its defense, holding Australia to one goal in the first 23 minutes of the half.
"We started off the game in our man-to-man defense and they were doing [isolation plays] and getting some no-angle shots that went in," said defender Katie Loovis, a graduate of Seton Keough. "When we switched to our zone, that was really effective. In the second half, we held them to two."
The USA has just one game today -- against Wales, a 15-4 loser to Japan yesterday. Games against England, Canada and Japan remain before Saturday's championships.