World Indoor Lacrosse Championship preview: Canada, Iroquois and US

first_img Published on September 15, 2015 at 9:40 pm Contact Chris: cjlibona@syr.edu | @ChrisLibonati Facebook Twitter Google+ On Sept. 18, the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship will kick off and 10 of the 13 participating countries will play on the opening day. Preliminary games will be held in Onondaga Arena, the Village Pavilion and the War Memorial, and the tournament closes out at the Carrier Dome on Sept. 27 for the final and semifinal games.In the 2011 WILC, Canada beat the United States, 15-10, in the semifinals and then the Iroquois, 13-6, to win the finals. The U.S. finished in third place, rolling the Czech Republic, which hosted the tournament, 16-7.Canada, the Iroquois and the U.S. all figure to be favorites again in 2015. Here’s a look at those three teams:United States:Best Player: Casey Powell, ForwardAdvertisementThis is placeholder textPowell will be one of the oldest players at the tournament at 39, but also one of the best. The former SU lacrosse great didn’t play in the 2014-15 National Lacrosse League season and only played eight games the season before, but in those games, he tallied eight goals and 17 assists. In 2010, he was the NLL most valuable player and was the Major League Lacrosse MVP in 2014. The Syracuse grad was one of the best college lacrosse players of all-time, scoring 287 points in four years, and his brothers Mikey and Ryan played at SU, too.Biggest Question: Who plays goalie and how well will he play?One of the biggest questions for the United States will be whether it can get reliable goalie play from Jake Henhawk, Chris Collins and David Mather. None of the three started for a team in the 2014-15 season in the NLL, the most popular lacrosse league in North America. The 2011 WILC starter, Erik Miller, is not playing in 2015. Henhawk backed up Miller and figures to get playing time for the U.S.Player to Watch: Blaze Riorden, ForwardRiorden is the only NCAA player to make the United States roster and he made the team at forward, a bit different from his goalie position at Albany. In an NCAA playoff game against Cornell, Riorden flashed his stick skills, carrying the ball from his crease up the sideline, faking a shot and ripping the ball into the net. During the summer, Riorden plays with a short stick in box lacrosse games.Current and Former Syracuse Players: Casey Powell (1994-98), Joel White (2007-11), Brian Megill (2009-13)Iroquois: Best Player: Lyle Thompson, ForwardThompson, an Albany alum, graduated as one of the best college lacrosse players of all time with his 400 career points the most of any player. His impeccable stick skills and moves in tight spaces make him one of the best young players in the tournament. Although Thompson has yet to play in the NLL, he should fit seamlessly into the Iroquois attack. Without Cody Jamieson, possibly the best player in the tournament but currently rehabbing from a torn Achilles, Thompson can take on a similar role Jamieson had for the Iroquois.Biggest Question: Who Replaces Cody Jamieson?This will have to be a team effort because Jamieson is that good. After the forward tore his Achilles in the NLL playoffs, the Rochester Knighthawks stalled out on a bid for a fourth straight NLL championship. With the Iroquois gunning for its first gold medal, his injury could stall his team again. Jamieson will serve as an assistant coach, but the 2014 NLL MVP won’t be able to bring his 427 career points in 83 games to the field.Player to Watch: Austin Staats, ForwardFar and away the youngest Iroquois player at the tournament at 17, Staats tallied 41 goals and 50 assists in 17 games during the Junior A season in Canada for the Six Nations Arrows. Staats’ older brother Randy played for Syracuse for the last two seasons after a stint at Onondaga Community College. In his first WILC tournament, the younger brother could break out for the Iroquois.Current and Former Syracuse Players: Brett Bucktooth (2003-06), Jeremy Thompson (2010-11), Warren Hill (2015-Present), Sid Smith (2008-09), Randy Staats (2014-2015)Canada:Best Player: Shawn Evans, ForwardEvans brings a trio of 100-plus point seasons in the NLL to the table for Canada. The forward scored a career-high 47 goals this season for the Calgary Roughnecks and has assisted on another 83 goals. Despite 2015 being his career-best year, Evans didn’t win the NLL MVP award as he did two seasons earlier, in 2013. Evans’ role as a feeder in the NLL should complement Canada’s stable of forwards well, with Mark Matthews and Ryan Benesch being the two top goal scorers in the 2015 NLL season.Biggest Question: How well will these players play together?The roster is pretty much a who’s who of box lacrosse and is stacked. John Grant Jr., a legend in box lacrosse, isn’t on the roster, but the four highest-scoring players in the NLL — Evans, Matthews, Benesch and Dhane Smith — are on its roster. It seems Evans, besides being the team’s best player, is also one of its best distributors and might be able to connect such high-scoring players to make a cohesive offense.Player(s) to Watch: Aaron Bold, Matt Vinc and Brandon Miller, GoalieBold and Vinc are easily the two best goalies in the tournament with Vinc having been the NLL Goaltender of the Year for two consecutive seasons. Bold, however, carried the Edmonton Rush to an NLL championship in 2015 and tallied a 9.44 goals-against average. Vinc allowed 9.62 goals per game, giving up only one more goal over the course of the NLL season than Bold. On top of Bold and Vinc, Canada has Brandon Miller, who was fourth in goals-against average in the NLL, giving up 10.36. The three could potentially split time throughout the course of the tournament. Commentslast_img

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