In the hunt, Canadians adjust well to outdoors Superior stick skills help indoor players to thrive

July 23, 1998|By Jamison Hensley and Ryan Basen | Jamison Hensley and Ryan Basen,CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Those box lacrosse guys are back in the world championships' title game.

The Canadians, who have more indoor players on their roster than any other team in the 11-nation tournament with 25, have shown no ill effects in adjusting to the heat, defensive long sticks and larger goals of the outdoor game.

"I think we should play with half the field open and put walls up on the other end," Canada coach Frank Nielsen joked.

Most of the Canadians are playing in their first field games in three years. But they have transplanted the same stick skills and riding patterns from the indoor game, compiling a 4-1 record with an average margin of victory of nearly six goals.

The major advantage for the box players switching to the outdoor game has been the larger, 6-feet-by-6-feet goal. In the indoor game, players have to shoot at much smaller targets that are guarded by heavily padded goalkeepers.

"I think we have the best stick skills of anybody here because of box lacrosse," said attackman Jamie Bowen. "We might not dodge or cut as well as other teams, but they're not taking the ball away from us."

Powell makes debut

Casey Powell, the two-time Division I Player of the Year out of Syracuse, made his World Games debut last night and made an immediate impact with two goals and an assist in the 24-4 win over the Iroquois Nation.

Wearing a brace on his left knee the entire game, Powell turned heads when he made an around-the-back pass to set up Michael Watson on the crease for the United States' seventh goal. Powell tore his medial collateral ligament in a scrimmage June 28.

"He got a real good workout in and I thought he looked pretty good," U.S. coach Bill Tierney said. "Like I've said before, Casey Powell at 80 percent is better than most. So we'll take it."

Zoned out

Scotland deployed a rare version of the six-man zone in its loss to England. It played with five defensemen back and one at the top of the offensive zone to try to surprise and frustrate the English attack.

"We wanted to keep the game as even as possible," Scotland coach Phil Collier said. "They had some better athletes than we did. The strategy worked for a while. In the end we conceded the ball to them too much."

This was the first time in the world championships that a team played a zone defense and the first time England has faced a zone in international competition.

"I think that was a good idea. It worked for most of the first half. This world championship has been notable for the lack of new tactics," England coach Mark Coups said. "It was a good idea to introduce [the zone]."

And a good time, too. "They knew they'd get tired if they had to chase us. That's why they played the zone," Coups said.

Pub Date: 7/23/98

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