Americans work OT to top Canada, 15-14 After losing 10-1 lead, U.S. needs 2 late goals for lacrosse crown

U.s. Wins Fifth World Title

July 25, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Mission accomplished barely.

After letting a 10-goal second-half lead slip away, the U.S. national lacrosse team needed two overtime goals and a save by Sal LoCascio with five seconds left to edge Canada, 15-14, for the World Championship before 10,793 at Homewood Field last night.

Parading the American flag under a sky of fireworks in celebration, the U.S. team (6-0) truly had to sweat out its fifth straight world title and 26th consecutive victory in World Championships competition. Canada (4-2) sent the game into overtime with one of the most impressive comebacks in international history, scoring nine times in the final 15 minutes of regulation.

Nevertheless, the Americans immediately regrouped to score the first two goals of overtime and then rested their fate on LoCascio.

Finishing with a world-record tying 32 saves, LoCascio stopped five shots in overtime. After the game, LoCascio announced his retirement from international and club competition.

"To end your lacrosse career with a World Championship, what could be better?," said LoCascio, 31, a Massachusetts graduate and the 1994 All-World goalkeeper. "This is absolutely, absolutely incredible. It's just a great win for 26 guys, for four coaches and for U.S. Lacrosse."

Trailing 15-14 late in overtime, Canada had two final chances to tie the game again.

Tom Marechek's shot with 41 seconds ricocheted off the right post. Then with five seconds remaining, John Tavares bounced an outside shot at LoCascio, who in turn deflected it with his right shoulder to save the game.

"I saw it all the way," LoCascio said. "It was far enough out where I didn't have to bait him. I just reacted to the shot."

After witnessing a 12-2 third-quarter lead wither down to a 13-13 tie heading into overtime, the United States remained composed.

Mark Millon then lifted the U.S. team back ahead at 14-13 just 2: 48 into overtime, muscling in a low close-range shot. Only 10 seconds later, Ryan Wade won the faceoff and fed Darren Lowe on the crease to push the margin to 15-13.

However, Canada answered back as Tom Marechek pulled Canada to within 15-14 on a left-handed bounce shot with 2: 24 left in overtime. The Canadians then closed out the game by misfiring on their final three shots.

"We had a lot of momentum, but obviously not quite enough," Canada midfielder Gary Gait said.

The Americans nearly turned the game into a rout early, blitzing Canada with a 10-goal run to take a 10-1 lead just 1 1/2 minutes into the second half. Canada finally retaliated in the fourth, maneuvering inside to convert nine goals on 20 shots to send the game into overtime tied at 13.

"We just got tired and started fouling," said U.S. coach Bill Tierney, who won his first three NCAA titles at Princeton in overtime. "But you try to make the guys understand that overtime is a new game with the scoreboard back at zero. I'm just happy it ended up the way it did."

Millon, the MVP of the 1994 World Games, led the Americans with four goals and an assist. Wade, a Severn graduate, added two goals and an assist as well as winning three faceoffs in overtime.

It marked only the second overtime in a World Games final, the first in 1978 when Canada upset the U.S. team.

"I truly never understood there was so much pressure," Tierney said. "I had no idea, playing in front of 10,000 people in Baltimore. I can't remember being so nervous for a game. This title is right up there."

Canada 1 0 3 9 0 1 -- 14

USA 3 5 4 1 2 0 -- 15

Pub Date: 7/25/98

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