U.S. Faces Familiar Foe in World Championship Semifinal


Team USA's Will Haus moves upfield during a pool-play win over Australia. The teams meet again today in a 2 p.m. ET semifinal live on ESPNU.

NETANYA, Israel — The United States will face a familiar foe as it looks to return to the Federation of International Lacrosse Men’s World Championship’s final game.

The U.S. will meet Australia in today’s semifinal from the Wingate Institute at 2 p.m. (Eastern) in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.

Australia earned its trip to the semifinals by rallying from an early 4-1 deficit to beat host Israel, 9-6, in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Christopher Robertson led the Aussies with two goals and three assists. Robertson leads Australia in scoring in the tournament with 16 points on eight goals and eight assists.

The U.S. is a perfect 16-0 against Australia since the first world championship in 1967, but has had its share of battles against the Aussies. The closest game was a 14-12 win over Australia in pool play at the 1994 world championship in Manchester, England — the U.S. eventually beat Australia 21-7 in the gold medal game that year.

More recently, the U.S. edged Australia 13-10 in the semifinals of the 2006 world championship in Ontario, Canada.

Australia has long been one of the top contenders in the world championship, medaling every year until falling to the Iroquois in the bronze medal game in 2014 in Denver. Australia claimed silver in 1967, 1974, 1982 and 1994.

The U.S. team, winners of nine of the previous 12 world championships, went a perfect 5-0 in pool play, including a 19-1 victory over Australia in which Kevin Unterstein scored just 17 seconds into the contest to set the early tone. Twelve different players registered a point in that contest, a familiar scene in a balanced U.S. offense.

Ryan Brown has 20 goals through five games to lead the U.S. attack, but he’s had plenty of help. Six other players have double digit points already, including Marcus Holman (13g, 4a), Rob Pannell (8g, 9a), Jordan Wolf (7g, 9a) and Tom Schreiber (9g, 6a).

The pool-play win over Australia kicked off four games in four days for the U.S., which culminated with a 19-2 win over England on Tuesday night.

“I’m very proud of the way the guys have gone about their business,” said U.S. team head coach John Danowski after the win over England. “They’ve played in three different venues at five different start times in tremendous heat and humidity. It’s hard.”

No one knows that better than Australia, which will be playing for the seventh straight day today.

Since the U.S. game, Australia has played four straight competitive, grueling games. On Sunday, Australia led the Iroquois Nationals, 8-7, early in the second half before falling, 16-9. On Monday, the Aussies scored the final three goals of the game to rally past England, 7-6. On Tuesday, Australia trailed Canada just 7-5 at the half before losing, 13-7. And on Wednesday, Australia had its 9-6 comeback win over Israel.

The winner of the U.S.-Australia matchup will advance to the final against the winner of today’s other semifinal pitting reigning world champion Canada against the Iroquois Nationals (11 a.m. Eastern, ESPNU).

The championship game will be played Saturday at 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. Eastern) from Netanya Stadium and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

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