With the prospect of intense heat, tournament officials at the Under-19 World Lacrosse Championships are taking extra precautions.
John Lopez, the director of the Towson Sports Medicine Center, monitors the temperature and humidity on Minnegan Field at Towson Stadium to make sure playing conditions are safe.
He takes measurements from a point near the scorer's table, and is concerned not only with the temperature at the level of players' heads but also with the hotter area near the artificial turf. The heat could contribute to blisters, among other things.
But the players' hydration is the main concern, with officials taking additional water breaks at Lopez's request.
During games yesterday morning, Lopez said the conditions were safe with temperatures in the mid-to-high 80s and a cool breeze keeping the humidity level at 50 percent and lower.
"You can tolerate the heat when the humidity stays low," he said. "Should the temperature surpass 90 degrees and the humidity surpass 70 percent, play would be suspended."
Tournament officials are also concerned with spectators' health, allowing fans to bring their own water into the stadium, bypassing a concessions-only policy.
Kevin Huntley and Nick Williams will step on the field together for the first time since they both helped Calvert Hall win the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title in the spring.
However, this time, they will be opponents, not teammates. Huntley leads his Canadian squad against Williams' U.S. team tonight at 8.
"I've been waiting for this game ever since I made the Canadian team," Huntley said.
Coaching the Canadians is Gary Gait, who has been wearing two hats this weekend. After guiding the team to a 20-9 victory over England on Thursday, Gait hopped on a plane early yesterday to meet his Bayhawks team, for whom he is a player-coach. After a game against Rochester, Gait will be back on the sidelines tonight to coach his team against the United States.
In other action, Japan got its first ever Under-19 tournament victory, 14-1, over Germany, which was playing in its first-ever Under-19 tournament game.
Canadian women win
As part of a thoroughly artful performance, Dana Dobbie turned heads in the second half with a nifty over-the-shoulder shot that helped Canada beat Japan, 15-8, yesterday in both teams' opening match in the Under-19 women's tournament.
"When you pick a good time to shoot that goal, it can really lift people," said Canada coach Joanne Stanga. "Dana is our most creative player."
Dobbie's creativity isn't contained to the lacrosse field. In addition to being Canada's top player, the 18-year-old from Guelph, Ontario, is also the team's official singer, songwriter and graphic artist.
Dobbie was certainly the center of attention yesterday, using her height and athleticism to have her way with a soft Japanese zone defense.
One play in the first half was indicative of how Dobbie employed her size and skill to dominate. After using her 5-foot-10 frame to intercept a pass from Japanese goalie Mizuhuo Obata behind Japan's goal, Dobbie turned and fired a pass to Emma-Lee Harrison, who was waiting patiently in front of a wide-open net.
"[Dobbie] is our most dominating figure, and you can see out there that she controls a lot of the play," Stanga said.
It will be a challenge for Dobbie to be such a dominating presence tonight at 8 when Canada takes on the United States, the tournament favorite.
"We know they're fast, they're not going to give up and they are going to be extremely aggressive, so we've got to play to their level," Dobbie said.