Canada and USA Rivalry Kicks Off U19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championship
Team Canada will begin their journey towards a gold medal at the 2016 FIL U19 Men’s World Championships on July 7 when they face-off against seven-time defending champion Team USA. The game is slated to begin at approximately 7:30pm PT, immediately following the opening ceremonies.
This marquee matchup will kick-off the 10-day tournament, which is being held at Coquitlam Town Centre in Coquitlam, BC. Canada will compete against 14 other countries, including six making their debut at the U19 level, in hopes of capturing the world title on home soil.
Team Canada's first game, against the powerhouse Americans, is sure to be a tough test. Team USA has had unmatched success at this international event since its inception back in 1988, winning gold on every occasion. They amassed an undefeated record of 36-0 going into the 2012 FIL U19 World Championship in Turku, Finland, where their dominance took a step back.
In Finland, the Canadian's won an 11-9 overtime thriller during the round robin, handing their rivals their first ever loss in the event's history. While Team USA went on to win the tournament, it proved that they could be beat, which is something Canada would do again during an exhibition game this past January. They battled to a hard-fought 14-13 overtime win during the Team USA Spring Premiere held at IMG Academy in Florida.
Head Coach Taylor Wray (Edmonton, AB; Saint-Joseph’s University) and his experienced staff lead a squad of young men that are excited to put on the maple leaf and take the field.
“We trying not to put too much emphasis on the opening game,” said Wray. “Obviously there’s excitement when you’re playing the reigning World Champions and team who has been as dominant at the international level as the USA, but we’re really not focusing on the opponent. We’re just excited to get started with the tournament.”
After arriving in Coquitlam with only three days to practice and prepare, the coach recognize that getting his team to gel may take some time. “It’s a short window of time to come together as a team,” he stated. “We’ve still got lots to do and lots to cover, and we know there will be things that we won’t be ready for the first game of the tournament.”
With a grueling schedule that sees Team Canada play four round robin games over the course of five days, they will need contributions from everyone on the roster. While getting off to a good start is important, so is peaking at the right time. As Wray indicated, “Our goal is not to be playing our best lacrosse on the first day of the tournament, but hopefully to be playing our best lacrosse on the last.”
All game times below are listed in Pacific Standard Time (PST), the local time zone in Coquitlam, BC.
Thursday, July 7 at 7:30PM vs USA
Saturday, July 9 at 7:30PM vs England
Sunday, July 10 at 7:30PM vs Iroquois
Monday, July 11 at 4:00PM vs Australia