Team USA was successful in its mission to win gold – and the Americans did it twice.

World Games Wrap: Mission Accomplished for Team USA Chasing Rings

WROCLAW, Poland – On July 5, the U.S. women’s national team embarked on a 27-day journey, featuring two world events, first the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Rathbones World Cup in Guildford, England, and then the International World Games Association (IWGA) World Games in Wroclaw, Poland.

As the reigning world champion, the team’s immediate objective was clear – win another gold medal at the World Cup. The Americans did just that, going 8-0 to claim its eighth overall title.

But the Americans broadened their worldview on lacrosse by embracing both events as a whole by “chasing rings” – first earning a world championship ring from the World Cup victory, then pushing the sport one step further toward the hopeful Olympic rings at The World Games.

Becoming the first team to win two gold medals in one summer, defeating Canada for the second time in one week, most recently 11-8 at Olawka Stadium in Poland, Team USA was successful in its mission to return home victorious, but more importantly, with respect for the game in what they displayed on the field to the International Olympic Committee.

“In one word, I would sum it up as successful,” said U.S. head coach Ricky Fried. “It’s great to see it all come to fruition. From the beginning, we were chasing rings. Now, we’ve accomplished that goal and the next is to chase the next set of rings – the Olympic rings.”

Fried said his team could have easily taken a break after the World Cup and mentally checked out, but the Americans trudged forward. Despite the long trip and the physical demands of both tournaments, they continued to “put on a show” at the World Games, as each player would describe was their hope from the get go.

“It’s a huge honor,” said U.S. captain Devon Wills. “Obviously, this was the first time we were able to participate in a tournament where there were other sports going on. It wasn’t just about USA lacrosse. The biggest thing is we all have the same objective. We all want to move forward. We all want to see our sport in the next Olympic Games. That was a huge thing for us and we just wanted to make sure we put on a great show. … As a lacrosse representative, as our team and Canada plus all the other countries that were here, we all have the same end goal.”

"From the beginning, we were chasing rings. Now, we’ve accomplished that goal and the next is to chase the next set of rings – the Olympic rings.” - Team USA Coach Ricky Fried

Canada’s silver medalists echoed the same sentiment, despite each team being competitive when aiming for gold. They hope the historic momentum in the sport’s progression toward the Olympics – getting to the World Games and being aired on the Olympic Channel – continues.

“Hopefully, we put on a good enough show that they Olympic committee was watching,” said Canada coach Scott Teeter.

The significance of The World Games was not lost on Wills and her teammates. The U.S. captain credited her team’s ability to compartmentalize, focusing on each tournament and game separately, as well as each challenge as it surfaced. Their preparation, both physically and mentally, allowed them to succeed in chasing rings.

“It was physically very taxing and mentally taxing,” Wills said. “But the reward was totally worth it. It’s never been done before and that was something that Ricky really emphasized – this is something to make history. Not only was it the first time lacrosse was played at The World Games but it was also the first chance to be two-time gold medalists within a week of each other. For us, that was definitely not lost on us how big of a responsibility that was.”

Australia Rebounds from World Cup, Claims Bronze at World Games

For the first time in the history of the World Cup, Australia did not medal. The Aussies finished in fourth place after a disappointing, double overtime 10-9 loss to England in the bronze medal game.

They left the event “in despair,” according to goalie Elizabeth Hinkes, but “buckled down” as they flew to Wroclaw to take the next step in their journey this summer.

Australia focused on what did not work well against England, while also embracing the fact that they were pioneering the sport into the future by playing in The World Games.

“I have no doubt that it’s going to the Olympic Game sometime soon,” said Hinkes, who was named MVP of the bronze medal game. “It’s very good experience. I feel like a pioneer.”

With a 10-8 win over Great Britain, which was a combination of players from England, Scotland and Wales, the Aussies returned to the pedestal as bronze medalists.

“Our aim to make sure we medaled here, given we were feeling sorry for ourselves after the World Cup, but I think that’s probably the thing I’m proudest of – just the fact that they managed to rally despite being emotionally challenged,” said Australia coach Trish Adams. “More than anything, physically, we’re pretty fit and we were ready for the challenge again at The World Games, but I think the emotional challenge and hurdles were probably the hardest to overcome.”

However, the bronze medal itself meant more than a win.

“The medal is something tangible, but we definitely came into this just wanting to feel good about our game,” said Adams. “They certainly are the pioneers. … To be able to suggest that [the Olympics] might be a platform for [our youth] in the distant future, I think it’s exciting.”

Despite Zero Wins, Poland’s Story Is Just As Big

Midway through the first half against Japan, Agnieszka Kosmala scored Poland’s first and only goal of the tournament. The Polish finished in sixth place with an 0-3 record, falling to the United States 20-0, Australia 23-0 and Japan 19-1.

But that one goal was momentous not only for the Polish, but for the sport of lacrosse. As the host for the first-ever lacrosse tournament at The World Games, their efforts were noticed.

“They should be super proud of everything they’ve put together,” said Australia coach Trish Adams. “They’re pioneers within themselves, so being a part of that, they should be so proud of that. It’s amazing. Coming up against such strong countries is so difficult for them, but they’ve done such a great job.”

Team Poland was “eager to learn” from the other nations' coaches and players at a clinic on Saturday, according to U.S. coach Ricky Fried. This event was about more than winning because growing the game was equally important.

“We’re thankful for that opportunity as well to be able to pass the game on, teach the game and make sure that continues through generations because that’s the only way it’s going to grow,” said Fried. “Parity stinks for the team on top, but we need parity for the sport. We’re excited that there are more programs involved and we can help in establishing those programs.”

U.S. assistant Amy Bokker witnessed each Polish player’s pure excitement and passion when she tweaked their basic stick skill techiniques, and even the event as a whole “created a buzz and excitement in this city and hopefully it will spread across the country."


Team USA and Team Poland pose for a photo after the first-ever lacrosse match at The World Games in Wroclaw, Poland.

The Meaning of The World Games to the World of Lacrosse

Lacrosse made its debut in its first-ever World Games, a multi-sport event that has been described as a stepping stone to the Olympics. The six teams – United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Japan and Poland – recognized the true impact of their participation in the long-term vision of the sport’s Olympic pursuit.

Team USA coach Ricky Fried (Gold):

“This is, in some ways, more important than the World Cup because this is an opportunity for this group to present to the Olympic committee women’s lacrosse. It’s not just about this team. It’s not just about U.S. It’s about the sport now, putting our best foot forward to make sure that when the international Olympic committee sees what this has to offer, they’re really excited about it and these players become the pioneers in getting lacrosse into the Olympics. … We just continue to talk about putting our best foot forward, putting out a really good product on the field and that’s our goal. … The World Games is basically a mini Olympics.”

Team Canada coach Scott Teeter (Silver):

“Words can’t describe it. It’s great for the sport of lacrosse, representing the sport we all love to play and coach and spend a lot of time in. It’s a tremendous accomplishment for our sport and hopefully we put on a good enough show that they Olympic committee was watching.”

Team Australia coach Trish Adams (Bronze):

“It’s such an amazing opportunity for Australia to be a part of The World Games. We love the sport of lacrosse so much, so we’re so excited that there might be a possibility for it to become a part of the Olympic dream that everyone has. … We’ve absolutely loved being a part of it. It’s something else. The girls have loved getting a taste of what an Olympic village might feel like with all the other athletes. … Everyone has been making the most of it. Eyes wide open.”

Team Great Britain coach Nicky Budd (4th Place):

“It’s not necessarily about us. It’s about the sport. … The World Games is about promoting our sport and showing everybody what an incredible sport it is, and whatever country you’re playing the game in, it’s a passionate sport and everybody loves it. … It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we’re always going to remember forever. We’re just so happy to be here. … That touch of being able to maybe make that stride toward the Olympics in an event that has other sports alongside it is really exciting.”

Team Japan coach Takeshi Sato (5th Place):

“[The World Games] is a very great experience for the Olympic [pursuit]. If lacrosse is going to be in the Olympics, we want to join the Olympic movement and achieve more and more great success. I am dreaming about that. We think it’s very possible to be in the Olympic Games and we will prepare and practice a lot. So many things we have to do!”

Team Poland coach Kaitlyn Kennedy (6th Place):

“[The World Games is] definitely [a good step toward the Olympics], just for the visibility of the sport in other parts of the world. Traditionally, it’s dominated by North American teams, or Australia or Great Britain. To see how quickly lacrosse is growing around the world, how popular it is and how many fans we can draw, I think it’s definitely a big step."