MANCHESTER, England -- A four-year long rebuilding project by the U.S. men’s national team culminated Saturday in a 12-10 victory over Canada -- the team that dethroned it in 2006 -- in the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship final before 4,651 fans at the University of Manchester.
"We dreamed of this. This was our destiny," said Team USA head coach Mike Pressler. "The script was written. We just had to go out there and prove it."
Team USA’s seventh world title did not come easy. The U.S. seized an 8-4 halftime lead with four unanswered goals in the second quarter. But Canada stormed back, blanking Team USA in the third quarter to tie it at 8. It set up another epic U.S.-Canada, fourth quarter showdown.
Zack Greer gave Canada its first lead of the game after getting topside on U.S. defenseman DJ Driscoll, faking and beating Team USA goalie Brian Dougherty on the doorstep to put the Canadians ahead 9-8 with just under 17 minutes remaining.
Dougherty came up huge with two saves -- including a lunging kick save off his left knee on Kevin Crowley -- on a man-down possession to keep Team USA within a goal.
Team USA attackman Brendan Mundorf rewarded him by scoring off a quick flip from Ryan Powell with a low, right-handed release – tying the game at 9 with about 12 minutes remaining.
John Grant Jr. answered for Canada, posting up U.S. defenseman Shawn Nadelen, getting topside, rolling back outside and dunking a goal on Dougherty to put the Canadians ahead 10-9 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
That’s when Ned Crotty, not much of a factor for Team USA in the early rounds, got untracked. The team’s youngest player and 2010 Tewaaraton Trophy winner with Duke, Crotty tied it at 10 on a low-to-high riser off a Mike Leveille feed with 8:24 left.
Less than three minutes later, Crotty scored the go-ahead goal on a phenomenal bounce shot as he fell to the ground. The ball flung off the turf and found a space under the crossbar and above the stick of Canadian goalie Chris Sanderson.
Canada turned the ball over with about four minutes remaining and Team USA possessed the ball the rest of the way. Sanderson kept it at a goal by taking a Leveille shot off the lid of his helmet. The U.S. corralled the rebound and called timeout with 2:30 left.
Despite pulling Sanderson from the game and doubling the ball with an extra field player, Canada could not regain possession, committing a number of fouls and chasing the likes of Team USA’s Matt Zash and Max Seibald.
After a series of penalties, Leveille scored on an empty net with 1:19 left to seal the victory. Canada could not create the turnover it needed. The game ended with the ball in the stick of Ryan Boyle, a three-time Team USA member, in the corner.
Midfielder Paul Rabil finished with three goals and was named the MVP of the 2010 FIL World Championships. Leveille added three goals. Mundorf and Crotty scored two apiece.
Grant led Canada with three goals and an assist. Greer added two goals.
Dougherty finished with 15 saves, his highest total of the tournament, for Team USA. Sanderson made 10 saves in the loss.
Joining Rabil on the All-World team were Leveille, Seibald, Mundorf and defensemen Ryan McClay and Kyle Sweeney.
FIL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – GOLD MEDAL GAME
USA – 3 – 5 – 0 – 4… 12
CAN – 2 – 2 – 4 – 2… 10
Goals: USA – Rabil 3, Leveille 3, Crotty 2, Mundorf 2, Powell, Striebel; CAN – Grant 3, Greer 2, Billings, Crowley, Huntley, Steenhuis, Williams.
Assists: USA – Crotty, Mundorf, Powell; CAN – Duch, Grant, Huntley, Small.
Saves: USA – Dougherty 15; CAN – Sanderson 10.
Faceoffs: USA – Smith 11-of-22, Peyser 0-of-1; CAN – Snider 12-of-22.
Visit laxmagazine.com for more on Team USA.
US Lacrosse is the national governing body for men’s and women’s lacrosse, and is the parent organization of the U.S. men’s and women’s national lacrosse teams. Warrior Lacrosse is the official exclusive equipment and apparel supplier to the U.S. men's national teams program.