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April 7, 2019 — The tourists

Yesterday was the 28th Annual Spring Fling, a coming together of a dozen teams at Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)’s three campus pitches.

There were 11 U.S. scholastic teams, plus a guest team wearing red and white.

That side is the England U-19 national team, which played games at Spring Fling in order to get prepared for this summer’s U-19 World Cup in Peterborough, Ontario.

England comes to the United States at an interesting time in its women’s sporting history. Great Britain is your current Olympic champions in field hockey, a sport which has a million paid members who play the game into adulthood.

England made the Final Four in the FIFA World Cup four years ago, and the country’s soccer culture is on the ascendancy, with a top league featuring teams sponsored by Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool.

Lacrosse has to compete against those other two field invasion sports, and it has shown on the international stage. An England lacrosse side has not made the championship of a senior or junior World Cup since 1993.

This year’s group of U19s is going to be stateside for the next week, observing collegiate games and playing friendlies at any and every opportunity. Yesterday’s games followed on from a pair of extended scrimmages against Milton (Ga.) and St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes on Friday.

The England side did show signs of fatigue in the late afternoon, falling eight goals adrift of Bethesda Stone Ridge (Md.) at the interval and not being able to make a comeback, but that was the team’s fourth game in about 30 hours.

The tour is a high-risk one for the England team; there are fewer than four months until the World Cup, and the team needs to cut a number of players from its current roster in order to get down to the final World Cup roster.

It will take a special team to be able to get past defending champion and host Canada, as well as a U.S. team which is allowing college players for the first time at the U-19 World Cup. This could be a side to watch if they absorb all of the lessons of this road trip.

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