Australian Talia Shacklock and Canadian Kristi Alcorn have no split loyalties this week at the Under-19 World Championships. Even though they play college lacrosse in the United States, they are truly dedicated to their national teams.
"Ultimately, it's so special to represent my country," said Shacklock, who just finished her sophomore season at Loyola. "I've got friends on this team from back home, who I love playing with. I've played with them for many years. For them to come over here and I've been accepted into the team so well, it's fantastic."
For Shacklock, 19, and Alcorn, 18, who just finished her freshman year at Quinnipiac, it's a little easier to face the United States, which had beaten both teams in early round play. Because the home team does not allow players with college experience to compete, they don't have to face any of their college teammates.
Both came up through club teams, because neither Australia nor Canada has scholastic lacrosse. While Shacklock has played for the Under-17 state team back home in Victoria, Alcorn is relatively new to the sport. The Orangeville, Ontario, resident picked up the game only five years ago as a way to stay in shape for ice hockey, which is her main sport at Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn.
"I just fell in love with the game. You can always improve on it. There's always something you can get better at. I'm at the top for my age, and the states just showed us we can always get better," Alcorn said.
Teammates then rivals
Hours after Virginia beat Johns Hopkins, 9-7, on May 26 to win the NCAA Division I men's title, people already had the Blue Jays-Cavaliers unseating Princeton and Syracuse as the next biggest rivalry in college lacrosse.
The teams have four players each on the U.S. Under-19 men's team and don't think there hasn't been some banter exchanged between the two sides this week.
Virginia players on the roster are rising sophomores Michael Culver, Kyle Dixon (Archbishop Spalding) and incoming freshmen Drew Thompson and Mike Petit, a goalie who will miss the rest of the tournament with an ankle injury. Sophomores Kyle Dowd, Greg Peyser and Matt Pinto (Loyola) and incoming freshman Eric Zerrlaut (St. Mary's) are the Blue Jays representatives.
Only Duke has more players on the team with five.
"We joke about it sometimes, not too often though," said Dowd. "Hopefully, it will be a great rivalry. I think the better of a rivalry it is for Virginia and Hopkins, the better it is for lacrosse."
Said Dixon of the rivalry: "As you can figure, it's a touchy subject. I don't really talk about it."
Two days after losing to the United States, 22-3, England will get a rematch in the first men's semifinal today at 5 p.m.
England defeated Red Division winner Japan, 14-4, yesterday behind four goals each from Gareth Wilkinson and Dan Kallaugher (McDonogh). Australia, 25-5 winners over South Korea, will play Canada in the second semifinal at 8 p.m.
"We knew that the game we had to win was the day after playing the U.S.," said England coach Simon Rowlinson.
Australia's Sarah Mollison has family connections to the previous two women's Under-19 championships. Her cousin Meghan Mollison played on the championship 1995 team and another cousin Erin Mollison, Meghan's sister, played on the runner-up 1999 team.
Lacrosse has certainly been a family affair for the Mollisons, who hail from Melbourne. Sarah said her father and his brothers all played.
Her brother, Jamie Mollison, 21, is on the Victoria state team.
Sun staff writer Danny Baker contributed to this article.