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July 21, 2017 — The “other” semifinal

The United States women’s national lacrosse team did the expected yesterday, outclassing and overmatching England by a 19-8 score.

But in the other half of the championship draw sat a semifinal between Canada and Australia. The game was one for the ages, and was settled only after extra time.

For most of the last 20 years, Australia has been the team chasing the Americans for world championship honors. Indeed, it was a superteam featuring Sarah Forbes, Jen Adams, and Courtney Hobbs which beat the United States at the 2005 World Cup in Annapolis.

But since then, it has been the Canadians on the ascendancy. taking bronze in 2009 and silver in 2013. Young women from Canada are being encouraged to play box lacrosse at earlier ages, learning stick skills and passing angles in tight spaces that are being brought to bear in the outdoor game.

Indeed, Canada made an enormous breakthrough two years ago when its junior national team beat the U.S. in the U-19 World Cup. Players from that team started having influence on U.S. collegiate programs, and Canada became the home to the first “superprep” girls’ lacrosse team on the continent.

Yesterday, Canada and Australia battled to a 6-6 draw in regulation. Canada center Dana Dobbie had the game-tying goal with under three minutes to go. Teammates Megan Kinna and Allie Jimerson would follow on in extra time for the 8-6 win.

Today’s rest break for the Final Four not only gives the other participants in this year’s FIL championships a last hurrah in their classification matches, but it also allows an extra bit of speculation regarding how Saturday’s games will go.

Given the fact that the United States beat Canada 17-3 in pool play, I have a feeling that the Maple Leafs are going to have to try something different, such as strategic doubling on the ball or running a slow-down offense (no shot clock in this tournament, mind you).

Canada head coach Scott Teeter, associate head coach Gary Gait, and assistant coach Katrina Dowd will have it all to do in order to get the Maple Leafs to buy into their strategy, but given the fact that there are four years in between World Cups, I’d expect nothing less but Canada’s best effort against the thus-far bulletproof American side.

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