COQUITLAM, BC – The United States came back from a 6-0 deficit to defeat Canada 13-12 Saturday in front of a standing-room only crowd at the 2016 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Under-19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championships presented by Novus. Earlier in the day the Iroquois Nationals defeated Australia 20-8 to win the bronze medal, while England won the fifth-place game against Israel in a close 10-7 contest.
USA 13, CANADA 12 – GAME SHEET
Team USA’s Ryan Conrad netted the game-winning goal with just eight seconds left to win the gold.
Photo: Randy Daly, US Lacrosse
Ryan Conrad scored with eight seconds remaining coming off a screen and burying the ball, capping off an unbelievable comeback for the Americans who trailed 8-2 at the half, giving the Americans their eighth title on the U-19 world stage.
“So we have a set play called Buffalo where we basically overload one side and we have one guy on the side and he is dodging. We held it to the last second and we have a guy going back-side, a guy going up top and two guys going down to the crease. Luckily, I was able to slip to the back side, Simon Mathias hit me on a perfect feed and I was able to finish it,” Conrad said, who had a Canadian defender draped all over him as he cut to goal. “Honestly, I just threw it, I didn’t really see it because I got crushed right after I hit it, so when I heard the cheers, that is when I knew it went in. Everything you do leading up to this game is how you make plays like that.”
U.S. head coach Nick Myers was proud of his squad for the resilience and comeback – the last play was executed to perfection.
“We wanted to hold it for one, we tied it with about two and some change
[to go] and we felt like we had the advantage at the X,” Myers said. “We won the faceoff, we held the ball and we went with the kid who scored the game-tying goal in Bernhardt who’s been breaking people down most of the tournament – he’s been an incredible dodger for us. We brought him out with fresh legs, he made the play… They executed it, kicked it to our X, we got an inside look, put it right on Ryan’s stick and he finished.”
“We’re world champs. I’m just really proud of the kids,” Myers said. “I think that there’s no script for this. I think what we did and you look at the whole process and the whole body of work from every exhibition we’ve had, having that overtime game in January with these guys, having two one-sided games and then you felt like today was going to come down to it.”
“When they had the early lead I felt like we would make a run, I felt defensively we made some key stops there at the end and we kind of pressed out and had to get out and force the tempo and we knew we were going to have to make a couple and Willie [Klan] really really came up big for us and then we got in a little bit more of a rhythm offensively and I think once we got in that rhythm you could feel the momentum on our sideline and again Austin [Henningsen] did a really nice job at the faceoff X and we were able to climb back in.”
Conrad (2G), Mathias (2G, 1A), Mac O’Keefe (2G, 1A), Timmy Kelly (2G), Alex Roesner (2G), Dox Aitken (1G, 1A), Michael Sowers (1G, 2A) and Jared Bernhardt (1G, 1A) scored for the balanced U.S. attack. Willie Klan made eight saves in the U.S. net for the win, seven of those coming in the second half. For Canada, Surrey, B.C., native Tre Leclaire had three goals in his best game of the tourney, while other scoring came from Ethan Walker (2G, 1A), Tanner Cook (2G), Jeff Teat (1G, 2A), Ryland Rees (1G), Riley Curtis (1G, 2A), Ryan Lanchbury (1G, 1A) and Justin Inacio (1G). Kyle Hebert played well, especially in the opening half, for Canada in the cage making 10 saves in the loss.
For Canada, the game can only be described as heartbreak. But an admirable effort for a Canadian team that lost 12-5 to the Americans in the opening night game between the same squads.
“It was incredible atmosphere here. I cannot thank our fans and fans from both sides to support their teams enough who were here to support their teams. It was a tremendous atmosphere and an exciting game and that’s what you hope for in a world championship,” said Team Canada head coach Taylor Wray.
It was a second half recovery for the Americans that caused the broken hearts with over 3,000 fans and players watching in person in a capacity crowd.
“They got going on the faceoffs… we were good there in first half. And in the second they got a few in a row and that kind of swung momentum their way,” Wray said. “Lacrosse is a game of runs and when you score and you win a faceoff, and you score and win a faceoff, it’s tough to break that momentum. They extended on us, and put pressure on us. We had some opportunities to put the ball in the net and when we did, they came up with some tremendous saves. They showed great resolve and played very well in the second half.”
Conrad knew his team needed a near-perfect second half to come back.
“I think it was all about people saying we’ve been down before and knowing you can bounce back. We were down to the Iroquois and had a huge response with them. A big thing with our team is we have a lot of ease, and whatever happens to us, good or bad, it’s all about the response to it. And we ended up having a great response to it and we came back and luckily enough we were able to get the win… I cannot ask for anything better.”
While the Canadian players were understandably deflated and dejected, their coach was happy with the effort.
“I told them I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Wray said of his team. “They should be proud of themselves. Sometimes you lose and you play a good game and lose, and sometimes you don’t play a good game and win. In the end if you play the way your’s supposed to play, you play hard you give it your all, you prepare the right way, then the score is what the score is. I’m really proud of this group. I don’t think many people gave us a chance in this game and you know to get the start that they did and be in control for most of the game was really, really impressive.”
“To be in a one-goal game with these guys on this stage… that is what I figured it would be. I didn’t think it would continue 8-2 or a six-goal spread. You knew they were going to come back and I figured it would be like this at the end,” Wray said. “When we got to 12-9 I thought, ‘alright if we can get the ball and control the tempo a little bit here, we’ll be alright.’ And then they scored… and I felt like alright then if we can get the next one we’ll be in great shape and we never got the ball back.”
Canada had a chance to tie the game in the dying seconds as Inacio won the draw and drove to the cage at the end, but the intended recipient of the pass was just out of reach of the ball and the U.S. got late possession to hold on for victory.
About the FIL
The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) is the international governing body for men’s and women’s lacrosse. The FIL currently has 52 member nations and holds five World Championships (women’s and men’s field, women’s and men’s U19 field and men’s indoor.) The FIL is responsible for the governance and integrity of all forms of lacrosse and provides responsive and effective leadership to support the sports’ development throughout the world.
About the Canadian Lacrosse Association
Founded in 1867, the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA) is the governing body responsible for all aspects of lacrosse in Canada. Our organization is comprised of 10 Member Associations representing nearly 80,000 individual participants, including coaches, officials, and athletes of all ages and abilities. The CLA’s mission is to honour the sport of lacrosse and its unique nation-building heritage, by engaging our members, leading our partners, and providing opportunities for all Canadians to participate. We strive to accomplish this while adhering to our core values of health, excellence, accountability, respect and teamwork. The CLA oversees the delivery of numerous national championships and the participation of Team Canada at all international events sanctioned by the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL). The CLA is proud to be affiliated with partners that share the same vision and values, including our corporate partners – Warrior Sports, New Balance Athletics, Westjet, and Baron Rings – as well as our funding partners the Government of Canada, the Coaching Association of Canada, and the Canadian Lacrosse Foundation. For more information on Canadian Lacrosse Association and the sport of lacrosse, visit our website at www.lacrosse.ca and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.