U.S. Finds Confidence Despite Last-Minute Loss to Iroquois

PHOTO BY LARRY PALUMBO

The U.S. indoor national team scored four unanswered goals to pull within a goal of the Iroquois Nationals, but could not force overtime.


It took a moment for the U.S. indoor national team to shake off the ending of Saturday night.

A moment to move past a dramatic finish that saw the U.S. have a final possession to send a round-robin battle with the Iroquois Nationals to overtime, only to have a Connor Buczek shot stopped by goalie Warren Hill.

But it didn't last long. 

Standing just feet in front of the U.S. bench was captain Joel White, high-fiving almost every player on his team.

“Let’s go,” White repeated as his teammates passed by him, down the tunnel and into the locker room.

White was quick to offer positive encouragement to his U.S. teammates — just seconds after a tough loss to one of the top two indoor teams in the world. And it’s easy to understand why.

Although they weren’t ready to turn the page just yet, Regy Thorpe and his team had just come alarmingly close to upsetting the Iroquois Nationals for the first time at the indoor world championship.

A hot start gave the U.S. confidence against the Nationals, but a second-quarter lull put the Iroquois in front for the rest of the game. However, the Americans mounted a furious rally over the final 20 minutes to pull within a goal in the final minute.

Ultimately, they fell just short, losing 11-10 to the Iroquois at Langley Events Centre. But the confidence White and his teammates had entering the indoor world championship — that they could beat the top teams in the world, that they could win gold — was only boosted by the effort.

“We understand what we’re up against,” White said after the game. “We understand the history of Canada and the Iroquois and where they’ve been. This is their tournament and had been in the past, but we’re going to keep battling. That’s a character comeback. We were down four goals in the fourth quarter, and we came back and made them a little nervous."

In contrast to the 16-6 loss to Canada on Thursday night, the U.S. delivered a more complete game. It allowed a five-goal Iroquois rally toward the end of the second quarter, but fought back to give itself a chance to tie the game late.







For much of the night, the U.S. was able to run its set offense, and the defense gave it plenty of opportunities from which to work.

“Even though we lost, I thought we got better,” Thorpe said. “We just have to eliminate those lapses in the middle of the game. Canada was about 18-20 minutes of lapses and then we played some good lacrosse. Today’s game we had a lapse in the second quarter there, but the guys came out firing and got us some stops on the defensive end.”

The tone was set early on, when the U.S. scored twice in the game’s opening minutes. Kieran McArdle had a hand in all four of the American goals in the first quarter, scoring once and adding three assists to help his team jump out to a 4-1 lead.

After a four-goal rally gave the Iroquois a 5-4 lead later in the first quarter, it was McArdle playing the role of run-stopper with his second goal. The New York Riptide NLL veteran finished with three goals and four assists.

“Blaze [Riorden] was really helping me get to the top side and setting great picks,” McArdle said of his success Saturday. “Guys off-ball were moving around. Resetarits on the backside was taking a lot of good shots. We’re starting to really click as an offense as we get deeper into this tournament.”

That was never more evident than late in the third quarter. Down 11-6 after a Jordan Durston goal, the U.S. mounted the four-goal rally that spanned the final 22:15 of the game.

Trevor Baptiste won crucial faceoffs. The defense held off the Iroquois attack for the entire fourth quarter. Gowah Abrams came up big in the cage. Resetarits set the tone on offense, assisting on the first two goals and adding his third tally to put the U.S. within 11-9. Davey Emala’s shot with 1:10 left put the Americans within a goal of an overtime period. 

The Americans withstood the wave of offensive firepower that came with the Iroquois Nationals, and it matched them with intensity and physicality. That paid dividends in the final quarter.

“[The fourth-quarter rally] was a combination of getting faceoff wins and stops on defense, and then we cashed in on those opportunities on the other end,” Thorpe said of the rally. “I’m proud of the way we fought tonight. We’re a really hardworking team and that’s our motto.”

With one game remaining in pool play — against England on Monday after an off day Sunday — the U.S. indoor team is rounding into form. It proved it can compete with anyone in the world.

The sting of the loss will fade, and rejuvenated confidence could replace it.

“We’re going to eat that one tonight and it’s going to hurt for a bit,” White said. “We want to see these guys again, so we have to build off of this. We’re going to wake up tomorrow and move forward.”

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