Coming into the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships, Team USA didn't display many holes, with a star-studded roster coached by a deep and talented staff. The reigning gold medalist from the 2010 world games, the U.S. team opened this year's event with a dominant 10-7 win over archrival Canada at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
Midfielder Paul Rabil (Johns Hopkins) led the U.S. with two goals and two assists, while Rob Pannell and Kevin Buchanan (Calvert Hall) added two goals apiece for the Americans.
Team Canada faceoff man Geoff Snider scored right off the draw to open the fourth quarter and cut the U.S. lead to 9-5. Zack Greer followed that with another goal to make it 9-6, but Rabil scored with 16:20 left in the game and Team USA's defense, led by goalie Jesse Schwartzman (Pikesville, Johns Hopkins) clamped down and never let Canada seriously threaten. With no shot clock under international rules, the U.S. stalled away the last couple of minutes.
Canada jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter after a sloppy first quarter. But two Buchanan-from-Rabil goals and a Garrett Thul score tied it up, and the U.S. never slowed down, scoring eight straight into the third quarter before Canada finally found its footing.
Brendan Mundorf (Mount St. Joseph, UMBC) also had a goal for the U.S., and Kyle Harrison (Friends, Johns Hopkins) and Buchanan added an assist apiece.
In net, Schwartzman finished with seven saves, while Dillon Ward shone with 18 for Canada, which was doubled up in shots 40-20.
Behind an MVP performance from Rabil in 2010, Team USA beat Canada in Manchester, England, 12-10 in the final, taking back the gold medal that the Canadians shockingly won in 2006 in London, Ontario.
Those two teams, both in the event's Blue Division, will be challenged mostly by the Iroquois Nationals, led by the wizardry of 2014 Tewaaraton Award co-winners Miles and Lyle Thompson and their brothers Jerome Jr. and Jeremy as well as cousin Ty. The Iroquois were barred from competing in the 2010 World Championships because their tribal passports were not allowed by the British government.
The U.S. continues pool play with a game against Australia at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU. Canada plays England at 10 that night on ESPN3.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jon Fogg contributed.