MANCHESTER, England -- It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty, but it was a win yesterday for the U.S. men's lacrosse team, 14-12, over Australia in round-robin play at the World Lacrosse Championships.
"Any win is a good win," said U.S. coach Tony Seaman of Johns Hopkins, after the United States improved to 3-0 in the tournament.
This, however, was a particularly good win, because it virtually assured the Americans of the top seed in Thursday's semifinals.
Yesterday's game was delayed for 1 hour, 45 minutes by lightning as thunderstorms moved through the Manchester area. Drenching rain before, during and after the delay turned much of the field into a muddy mess.
Still, the United States, which led 3-0 before the delay, was called with just over five minutes left in the first quarter, added four more goals before Australia got on the board almost 11 minutes into the second quarter.
Throughout the first half, which ended with the United States up 9-2 and seemingly in control, Chris Flynn dominated on faceoffs, the U.S. defensemen dominated at their end of the field, and Sal LoCascio sparkled in goal.
It was to be a different story in the second half, as Australia was able to control the ball for long stretches by winning faceoffs and ground balls. The U.S. defense, slowed by the wet footing, was unable to pressure the Australian feeders, said assistant coach Dave Cottle of Loyola. The Aussies were able to create opportunities and put the ball in the net.
The result was two three-goal runs during the third quarter, interrupted only by Mark Millon's rocket blast from outside, his fourth goal of the game.
Another factor in Australia's resurgence was the halftime substitution of Paul Schimoler in goal for LoCascio. The U.S. coaches had instituted a fixed three-goalie rotation with LoCascio, Schimoler and veteran Larry Quinn (Johns Hopkins) splitting games. However, Schimoler was not sharp yesterday in the difficult conditions.
Butch Marino's goal to close the third quarter and another to open the fourth, gave the U.S. team some breathing room, 12-8. But Australia battled back, and it took two big saves by Schimoler in the middle of the quarter, and timely goals by Ryan Wade (Severn) and Tim Soudan to keep the U.S. team on top.
Seaman lamented the Americans' inability to finish plays with goals. "We get good shots easily," he said. "The Australians made their good chances and we didn't."
The U.S. team faces the Iroquois Nationals this afternoon, and closes round-robin play against England tomorrow night. Both of those teams are tied for fourth in the Premier Division with 1-2 records.