Canadians in maple leaf-laden clothes, color-coordinated Australians and singing Englishmen provided an international flavor at the opening ceremonies of the 2003 Under-19 World Lacrosse Championships last night in Towson.
A crowd of about 500 cheered the 16 teams, representing 10 nations, at Minnegan Field at Towson Stadium, kicking off the 10-day event.
Officials of lacrosse's various governing bodies welcomed players, fans and officials to the Baltimore area for the first-ever combined men's and women's under-19 championships.
"It's truly a momentous occasion to have all of these teams from all these countries here," said Ryan McClernan of US Lacrosse, the event's host.
Acknowledging the tense political situation in the world today, McClernan added: "I hope that these games will be a model for friendship and peace."
Fiona Clark, president of the International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations, congratulated US Lacrosse for bringing the men's and women's events together and lauded the players for representing "a panorama of the talent, spirit and idealism of the youth of our sport."
The procession of teams offered a panorama of pride as teams marched with their nation's flags. The Iroquois Nation team marched behind two men wearing traditional headdresses, and the English women's team wore national flags around their necks as capes.
Despite being the hosts, the United States men's and women's teams, the defending champions, did not receive the loudest cheers of the night.
They were reserved for Australians wearing their team's yellow and green colors, red-and-white-clad Canadians and Englishmen who broke into a song of "England, England."
Huntley leads Canada
In the opening game of the championships, Canada defeated England, 20-9, behind seven goals and an assist from attackman Kevin Huntley (Calvert Hall).
Canada received most of its offense from its attack trio of Huntley, Scott Janssen and Jason Barratt. Janssen had four goals and three assists, and Barratt had four goals and two assists.
Two men's divisions
Australia, Canada, England, Japan, Scotland, the United States and Wales are competing for the women's championship.
The men's field has been broken into two divisions, based on previous tournament results.
Australia, Canada, England, Iroquois Nation and the United States are in the Blue Division, and Germany, Japan, South Korea and Wales make up the Red Division.
For four years, Jessica Allen and Mollie Reese were teammates at Hereford High School, and the duo wasn't quite ready to split up.
They will remain together on the U.S. women's team that will try to retain its title at Minnegan Field.
"I couldn't be happier to have Mollie as a teammate," said Allen. "It won't be like that next year, so I couldn't be more excited."
This fall, the two Monkton residents, who have played together since second grade, will split up as Allen heads to North Carolina and Reese moves on to Maryland.
But in the meantime, the All-Metro midfielders will apply their unique brand of synchronization to the attempt to win a world title to go with the three state crowns they won at Hereford.
The last major international lacrosse event in the United States was the 1998 ILF world championships that were contested in Baltimore. ... Schuyler Sutton, a Severn graduate and team alternate, will sing the national anthem before all of the U.S. women's games. ... Coco Stanwick, a Notre Dame Prep graduate, was voted the women's team captain.