OTTAWA, ON (July 16, 2016) – A champion will be crowned tonight at the 2016 FIL U19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championship, as host country Canada battles seven-time defending champion USA for gold. A capacity crowd is anticipated at Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam, B.C., with the action scheduled to get underway at 4:00pm PST.
It’s a matchup many predicted, however few imagined that their paths to the finals would be so different.
Team USA (5-0) has cruised past the competition so far, outscoring their opponents 84 to 19 along the way, which included a surprisingly dominant 12-5 victory over Canada in the opening game of the tournament. They have played extremely well in every aspect of the game, led by a well-balanced scoring attack that has seven players with at least 10-points and a has been able to convert at a 30.43% clip with the man-up.
“They are strong at every position,” said Canadian head coach Taylor Wray (Edmonton, Alta.). “There really isn’t a weakness on their team. They’re extremely athletic and they’re well coached. There’s no real holes, so we’re going to have our hands full.”
The U.S. will be challenged by a much-improved Team Canada (4-1) this time around, a squad that has won four-straight games, including a hard fought victory over the Iroquois Nationals in the semi-finals, since losing to the Americans. The adversity that they have faced is something that their coach thinks could benefit them in the finals.
“It’s always good to play a competitive game before you know you’re going play another competitive game,” stated Wray. “Any time you can play with that pressure weighing on you, that experience is a good thing for the players. “Hopefully we can be in a situation on Saturday afternoon when we’re playing with that type of pressure on us.”
One of the keys for Canada will be to control possession off the draw, something face-off specialist Justin Inacio (Oakville, Ont.), who has won 70-of-104 to date, will be tasked with doing. When their opponent does gain possession, Canada will rely on goaltender Kyle Hebert (Burlington, Ont.), who turned away a tournament high 16 shots in his last outing, to limit the damage.
The U.S. men’s program has had tremendous success at the U19 level, capturing gold at every world championship since its inception back in 1988. They’ve lost only two games along the way, including one at the hands of Canada, a thrilling 11-9 overtime win at the 2012 tournament in Turku, Finland.
While it unseating them will be a challenge, the Canadian’s have history on their side. They have dominated on the international lacrosse stage in recent years, winning the past three world championship titles, besting the USA at the 2014 Men’s Lacrosse World Championship and 2015 U19 Women’s Lacrosse World Championship, and defeating the Iroquois at the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship.
Tonight’s gold medal final will mark the end of the 2016 FIL U19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championship, a 10-day event that featured a record 14 participating countries, including six making their international debut.