The United States withstood its toughest test of the Federation of International Lacrosse Women's World Cup, defeating Canada, 10-5, in the gold medal game on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, England.
The United States improved to 60-6-1 all-time in World Cup competition and clinched its eighth World Cup title, but not without getting all it could handle from Canada, which held the high-powered U.S. offense to its lowest output since an 8-7 win over Australia in the 2009 final.
Co-captain Sarah Bullard scored a game-high three goals for the United States to earn Player of the Match honors. Bullard, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. national teams program, won her fourth gold medal, including an under-19 world championship in 2007 and senior World Cup titles in 2009 and 2013.
"It's really indescribable. Even after being through this a few times before, it's different with every single group," Bullard said. "I'm proud of how my teammates handled it out there today and throughout this whole tournament."
Asked how the titles compared to each other, Bullard responded, "They don't. Every one is different, and it never gets old. This is the most talented team I've ever been a part of, but what's more special is how selfless they are, how much we care and how we want to be there for each other."
The United States averaged nearly 18 goals per game during the 10-day tournament coming into Saturday's game, including a 17-3 victory over Canada in pool play. But with Canada face-guarding star attacker Kayla Treanor — who was shut out after amassing a team-record 43 points in seven previous games — the U.S. relied more on its midfield. Along with Bullard, Marie McCool and Laura Zimmerman netted two goals apiece. Midfielders accounted for eight of 10 U.S. goals.
The U.S. outshot Canada 16-4 in the first half but led just 5-1 at halftime. Attacker Michelle Tumolo nearly made it a five-goal lead at the buzzer, launching the ball from about 75 yards out in the waning seconds of the first half. Canadian goalie Katie Donohoe (nine saves) lost track of the ball and it went in the goal, but after time had already expired.
It looked like the U.S. would pull away early in the second half. Zimmerman, McCool and Katie Schwarzmann (Century, Maryland) each scored in a span of 1 minute, 57 seconds to put the U.S. ahead 8-1.
But Canada answered with a three-goal run, including two highlight-worthy finishes by Alie Jimerson, who pinged a free position off the pipe and in and then split a double team to score with 9:50 remaining to make it 8-4.
That's the closest Canada got, however. Zimmerman beat the Canadian press to score on an open goal with 4:09 remaining and then Bullard delivered the dagger, sweeping right and ripping a shot into the opposite corner to make it 10-4 with 2:09 remaining.
Canada's Erica Evans, who was responsible for marking Treanor in the first half, scored her second goal of the second half with 1:25 left for the final margin.
The U.S. now turns its attention to The World Games, an international multi-sport event organized by the International World Games Association. Lacrosse makes its debut on the world stage Thursday in Wroclaw, Poland. Six countries are participating in the event, which is considered a stepping-stone on the path to Olympic recognition. Joining the U.S. in Wroclaw are host Poland, Canada, Australia, Great Britain and Japan.