The dress rehearsal is now officially over for the United States men's lacrosse team.
Spending the last week of the International Lacrosse Federation Under-19 World Championships getting to know each other's tendencies, while rarely being seriously tested by an opponent, the Americans are now where they wanted and expected to be all along.
After throttling England for a second straight game - this time by a 21-6 margin in the tournament semifinals at Minnegan Field at Towson Stadium - the Americans are one game away from the championship.
Standing in their way of a fifth consecutive title is Canada, a 13-12 winner over Australia last night in the second semifinal.
The United States and Canada will play tomorrow 45 minutes after the conclusion of the women's championship game, which starts at 5 p.m. England (2-4) will face Australia (3-3) in the consolation game at 2 p.m. tomorrow.
"We have such a high standard because we haven't lost a game in the tournament yet," said attackman Matt Danowski, who leads the United States with 15 goals and eight assists. "But it's definitely a relief to get to the final game and know we only have 80 minutes left to get to the gold."
Yesterday, the Americans (5-0) booked their trip to the final early, scoring the game's first five goals against the overmatched English, who fell behind 9-0 against the Americans on Tuesday before ultimately losing, 22-3.
Bobby Griebe started the scoring barrage with an unassisted tally. That goal, Griebe's 10th of the tournament, was followed by unassisted scores from Kyle Dowd, Patrick Walsh, Greg Peyser and Danowski, and for all intents and purposes, the outcome was sealed.
Danowski and Craig Nolan had four goals and an assist each, Greg Cohen had three goals and Peyser added two goals and two assists for the Americans.
"To come right back against the same team and play almost as well, that speaks a lot of about where we are right now," said U.S. coach Bob Shriver. "We're just happy we're in the championship game. That's the goal all along, and we're there."
Canada 13, Australia 12: Trailing 10-6 early in the second quarter, Canada (4-1) scored seven of the game's final nine goals for the victory.
After Canadian attackman Scott Janssen tied the score at 11 at the 12:24 mark of the final quarter, Kevin Huntley, The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year from Calvert Hall who has dual citizenship in the United States, cut toward the middle and fired a shot from 10 yards out that beat Australian goalie Chris Tillotson with 11:45 to go.
Less than a minute later, Huntley (two goals) fed Jason Barratt for a 13-11 Canada lead. Getting four goals and an assist from Josh Ardossi and three goals and three assists from Nick LeGuen, Australia cut the margin to 13-12 with 36 seconds left, but it couldn't get another possession after that.
Canada goalie Alexander Peaty made 11 saves.
"We showed a lot of character to be down 5-1 at one point and to battle back," said Canada coach Gary Gait. "We gave ourselves a chance by having a big third quarter and we were able to make some plays in the fourth."
United States 21, England 6
Goals: E-Kallaugher 2, Davidson, Singleton, Williamson, Cox; U.S.- Nolan 4, Danowski 4, Cohen 3, Peyser 2, Griebe 2, Dowd 2, Walsh 2, Lamade, Panarelli. Assists: U.S.-Dixon 3, Peyser 2, Walsh 2, Danowski, Nolan, D. Thompson, B. Thompson. Saves: E-Morris 12, Hill 1; U.S.-Alford 11, Williams 0. Half: U.S., 12-2.