Since the World Cup lacked the pageantry of last summer's World Championships, the United States decided to create some fireworks of its own last night.
Firing past the Canadian defense with ease, the U.S. team celebrated early and often during its 20-10 rout in front of 4,783 at Homewood Field. The Americans, whose national team has won seven World Championships, swept the first best-of-three World Cup series with the victory.
Casey Powell, the World Cup's Most Valuable Player, recorded another standout performance with five goals and one assist. He finished with eight goals and three assists in the two games and dedicated his MVP award to his mother, who just overcame cervical cancer.
Unlike recent meetings, the United States pounced on the Canadians early and did not allow them to get back up for another renowned late rally. The Americans scored five times in 8: 08, missing the cage only twice in that span, to roll out to a 12-7 lead early in the third quarter and this time only sweated in the fourth quarter because of the heat.
"Now that's a little more like it," Powell said, smiling. "We just came out in the second, third and fourth [quarters] playing as fast as we could. It looked like we had the legs."
The U.S. team took some criticism entering the series, because it returned only eight players from last summer's national team. But the Americans had little difficulty in stifling the cynicism and the Canadians, who had 14 members back from a national team that lost to the United States twice by a combined three goals.
Analyzing film from Wednesday's game, which the U.S. team won, 16-15, the Americans executed a sounder game plan last night. And most of the Canadians appeared as if their minds were on today's flight back across the border to play in this weekend's box lacrosse games.
The U.S. team had the edge in speed. So it struck consistently with quick midfielders, exploiting Canada's slow, sliding defense.
The Americans also noticed that Canada relied on a spread attack and pick-and-rolls for easy inside shots. With one slight adjustment, the U.S. defense remained packed inside and Canada struggled to find quality chances.
"Last game, we got by on emotion and athleticism," Canadian goalkeeper Chris Sanderson said. "Today, the U.S. exploited our weaknesses. It was really obvious."
The United States started displaying its new-found confidence and style late in the second quarter. But the U.S. team required a little push from the Canadians after going ahead, 7-4.
Canada answered with three goals in six minutes, scoring on half of its shots. John Grant's goal with 8: 23 left in the first half tied the game at 7.
Only 1: 30 later, Darren Lowe whipped a pass to Jesse Hubbard on the crease to move the United States back ahead, 8-7, and the Americans began to shred the Canadian defense with individual moves to the goal.
"We were very confident on offense," Powell said. "I don't think they had six guys out there that could cover all six of us. That was the difference."
Canada 4 3 2 1 -- 10
United States 5 6 5 4 -- 20
Goals: C--Grant 2, Doyle 2, Shearer, Tavares, Bowen, Gait, Kelusky, Jenner; US--Powell 5, Hubbard 3, Soudan 3, Miller 2, McCavera, Knight, Martin, Frye, Finneran, Gonnella, Reese. Assists: C--Bowen 3, Grant 2, Gait, Doyle; US--Watson 3, Gagliardi 2, Knight, Lowe, Powell. Saves: C--Sanderson 15; US--Mule 14, Cattrano 8. A--4,783.