A 24 save performance from goaltender Dillon Ward helped lead Canada to a 10-5 win over the Iroquois Nation (2-2) at the 2018 FIL Men’s Lacrosse World Championships in Netanya, Israel. The win earned Canada (3-1) a bye directly into the semi-finals.
The Iroquois outshot the Canadians 51-32, but Ward stood tall. He finished the game with an outstanding 0.83% save percentage, more than doubling the 0.41% of his counterpart Warren Hill.
He made an incredible 12 saves in the first quarter and didn’t let a ball by him until the 9:47 mark of the second quarter.
“We knew we were coming in tonight against an Iroquois team that has a lot of firepower,” said Ward.
“A lot of those saves came from when they were trying to claw their way back and taking some forced shots,” he added, humbly. “Our defense did a great job of taking away their angles and pushing them to areas where they weren’t necessarily as comfortable shooting the ball.”
Canada’s coaching staff were quick to praise Ward’s performance.
“A big credit has to go to Dillon Ward,” said assistant coach Jason Levesque. “He really stepped up and played probably one of the best games we’ve seen out of him.”
A trio of Canadians finished with three points, including a two goal, one assist performances from both Wes Berg and Mark Cockerton, and a one goal, two assist game from Josh Byrne
Curtis Dickson and Ben McIntosh chipped in with a pair of goals each, while Kevin Crowley added a single.
The Iroquois held possession for much of the game, thanks in large part to Jeremy Thompson winning 12 of 18 face-offs, but were unable to capitalize on their opportunities.
They launched 42 shots on net in the first three quarters, but entered the final frame down 8-3.
Canada went on a four-goal run to open the game, which included a pair from Dickson, before the Iroquois replied with a pair of their own. The Canadians scored another four in-a-row, two each from Berg and Cockerton, to build a comfortable lead. The Iroquois netted three of the game’s next four goals to cut into the lead, but it wasn’t enough.
Randy Staats lead the Iroquois in scoring with two goals and two assists. Miles Thompson finished with a goal and an assist, while Frankie Brown and Ty Thompson each added single goals.
Canada managed to stifle a potent and creative Iroquois offense, one that had scored 46 goals in their first three games of the tournament, including nine on the powerhouse Americans in the tournament opener.
The key to shutting down a team like the Iroquois is simple, according to Ward.
“I think it’s just patience,” he said. “I just have to wait to see the ball out of their stick, rather than trying to guess where they are going or trying to shade where I think they are trying to go. I think that worked out for me today.”
“There are some challenges, but as long as we’re communicating well and being decisive, I think we can combat that creativity,” added defender Graeme Hossack.
Canada plays their final game of the round-robin against Australia tomorrow, July 17, at 7:30am ET.