• LaxMagazine.com story by Corey McLaughlin
• Box Score

COQUITLAM, B.C.. — The United States bid for an eighth consecutive Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) U19 Men’s World Championship got off to a rousing start with a 12-5 victory over host Canada before an estimated crowd of approximately 1,500 on a rainy, chilly night.

The U.S. dominated possession early and jumped out to a 3-0 lead with two of the goals coming from Simon Mathias. Mathias, who recently completed his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of the last players named to the U.S. team, joining the team prior to its June training weekend as an injury replacement for Drew Supinski.

After Canada finally got on the board more than 17 minutes into the game on a rebound shot by Tanner Cook, the U.S. ripped off five straight goals, including back-to-back goals by Ryan Conrad at the start of the second quarter, to stretch its lead to 8-1. Canada’s Tre Leclaire scored the final goal of the half to make it 8-2 at the break.

Canada controlled the ball for much of the third quarter, but U.S. goalie Willie Klan came up with four stops in the quarter, allowing the Canadians to score just twice and cut only one goal off the U.S. advantage.

The U.S. led 9-4 going into the final 20 minutes and a Brad Smith rocket early in the fourth quarter regained momentum for the U.S., and they went on to post the 12-5 victory.

Timmy Kelly led the U.S. offense with a hat trick and Mathias also had three points on two goals and an assist. Conrad and Michael Sowers each added a pair of goals as well. Klan went the distance in goal and finished with eight saves.

Leclaire led Canada with two points on one goal and one assist. Caelahn Bullen played the first half in goal for Canada and made five saves while allowing eight goals. Kyle Hebert played the second half and made four saves while allowing four goals.

Justin Inacio took all 18 draws for Canada and won nine. Austin Henningsen was 6-for-12 and Christian Feliziani was 3-of-6 for the U.S.

The victory is a great start to the tournament, but the U.S. team has plenty of work ahead. In the last three FIL men’s world championships, the loser of the Canada-U.S. pool play game has gone on to win the world championship (U.S. senior men in 2010, U.S. U19 men in 2012 and Canada senior men in 2014). The last time a team swept both the pool play and championship game medals in FIL men’s competition was the U.S. U19 team in 2008.

U.S. team head coach Nick Myers knows full well of the potential of the Canadians. The U.S. lost an exhibition game to Canada in the Team USA Spring Premiere in January and lost an exhibition game last November to the Hill Academy, a Canadian team that featured many of these U19 players.

"We’ve had enough experience now with this team and enough of the personnel of this team through our exhibitions that we certainly know what they’re capable of and how quickly they can strike," said Myers. "There were moments when they did. It was pretty workmanlike on the sidelines. The guys didn’t get too high or too low. We did build the lead, but I think the whole time it was just continuing to stay the course, knowing that we have our hands full on the defensive end."

Team USA returns to action on Saturday with a game against Australia at 4 p.m. (Pacific time). All games in the FIL U19 World Championship are being streamed live at sportscanada.tv/2016worldlax/

The world champion U.S. Men’s National U19 Team trains and plays using best-in-class products provided by Nike (apparel and footwear), STX (equipment), and Cascade (helmets). Nationwide, GreenFields and Sweat X are official sponsors of Team USA.

Follow the U.S. men’s national team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and YouTube at @USLacrosse and using hashtag #USAMLAX.

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