U.S. rolls into World lacrosse final 24-4 rout of Iroquois sets up title game against rival Canada

July 23, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Remember those worries about the U.S. lacrosse team

lacking that killer instinct? Forget about them.

And those criticisms that coach Bill Tierney collared the attack with a too-disciplined philosophy? That's a thought of the past.

The Americans showcased the type of high-scoring and overwhelming overall effort last night that many had expected from them the entire week. Final tally: United States 24, Iroquois Nation 4, before 5,535 in the World Games semifinals at Homewood Field.

"It takes time," U.S. defenseman Brian Voelker said. "For all intents and purposes, this is an all-star team. It's tough to get all the guys on the same page. Hopefully, tonight's the night where we put it all together."

The U.S. team (5-0) coasted to its 25th straight victory in World Games competition by notching the game's first 12 goals, and looks in prime condition to defend its world title tomorrow against rival Canada.

The Iroquois (2-3), who lost to the United States by 12 goals Sunday, never scored consecutive goals against a stringent defense and never reduced the deficit below 12 in the second half.

Want to discuss dominating efforts?

The United States had more goals than the Iroquois had shots (23). The Americans shredded a passive defense to post the highest goal total and widest margin of victory by any nation in this year's World Games.

And what about those questions about the United States' cohesiveness?

The Americans continually set up the open man for high-percentage shots, recording 18 assists. The defense clamped down as well, shutting down the Iroquois for the first 26 minutes and the final 27.

Michael Watson, a St. Paul's School graduate, paced the balanced U.S. attack with three goals and four assists. Fellow attackmen Mark Millon and Darren Lowe each added three goals and three assists.

In total, 12 players scored goals for the United States.

"I'm really proud of how the kids have come together," Tierney said. "We've become an unselfish, hard-working team. Now it's the championship, what we all have been waiting for."

It was one of the most impressive efforts in the semifinals, and only orders to refrain from shooting at the end kept the U.S. team from breaking the record 22-goal margin of victory in this round.

After appearing restrained in its round-robin games, the United States blitzed the Iroquois with a methodical approach.

The Americans engineered a precision attack from the onset, converting their first three shots in the opening six minutes.

The United States pounced on the Iroquois 20 seconds into the game, when Mark Millon scored from close range.

Just 2 1/2 minutes later, U.S. defenseman Brian Voelker walked past the Iroquois on a clear and whipped in a shot. Watson then rTC put the Americans ahead 3-0 by tagging in a crisp feed from Millon.

The lead quickly ballooned to 7-0 as the United States slammed in four goals in 4 1/2 minutes.

The Iroquois switched goalkeepers three times in the first half to try to slow the U.S. onslaught. It didn't work as the United States proved too efficient, missing the cage only once in the first quarter and not giving the Iroquois a single opportunity to clear the ball.

The Iroquois seemed hesitant on attack, making ill-advised passes across the defense rather than attacking the goal. The Iroquois did score the first goal of the second half to pull within 15-3, but beat U.S. goalkeeper Brian Dougherty only one more time in the last 38 minutes. The Americans finished the game by racking up the final six goals.

"We just shot the ball really well and played pretty much unselfish," Watson said. "We've been waiting to do that and kind of come out first-quarter flying. I think we just really, really wanted it. And it showed. But I think we can take it up another notch; we're going to have to."

NOTE: About 1,000 tickets remain for the title game and can be purchased at the Homewood Field box office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Iroquois Nation 0 2 2 0 -- 4

United States .12 3 5 4 -- 24

Goals: I--Lyons 2, C.Barnes, Powless; US--Watson 3, Millon 3, Lowe 3, Bi.Miller 3, Powell 2, Marchant 2, Finneran 2, Traynor 2, Hubbard, Curry, Wade, Voelker. Assists: I--Schindler 2, Ca.Bomberry; US--Watson 4, Millon 3, Lowe 3, Hubbard 2, Di.Miller, Powell, Marchant, Curry, Lockwood, Shek. Saves: I--P.Solomon 19, Hopps 1; US--Dougherty 9.

Pub Date: 7/23/98

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