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History not on U.S. team's side as it hosts women's World Cup

THE BALTIMORE SUN

As the four-time defending champion, the United States may be favored to win another women's lacrosse World Cup over the next 10 days at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, but the team will have to overcome the long-standing misfortune of the host team.

In the six previous International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations World Cups dating to 1982, the home team has never won. The United States played at home only once before and that was the only year it lost -- 1986, in Philadelphia.

Australia won that year. Since then, the Aussies have been relegated to second place four straight times by the United States in the event held every four years. Of course, they are looking to keep the home-field jinx alive for one more Cup.

"You feel the pressure on your home ground," said Australia head coach Max Madonia, an assistant coach twice before. "I think it's just expectations, but I'm not quite sure."

U.S. coach Sue Stahl, whose team opens with England tonight at 8 at the Naval Academy's Glenn Warner Soccer Facility, said the hoopla surrounding the event can be distracting for the home team.

With a lot of family and friends close by, she said, it can be hard to remain focused on the competition.

"If you can't focus and separate the social part from the actual games part, sometimes the line gets confusing and you lose your focus and concentration," said Stahl, in her fifth World Cup as U.S. coach.

"At this level, when everybody is so good, that's all it takes. It's the little things that generally make the difference."

The other teams in the 10-nation field -- Australia, England, Canada, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Japan, the Czech Republic and New Zealand -- are more isolated, being away from home, so it may be easier for them to concentrate.

Friends, family and fans have grabbed up all the tickets for pool play, and the first five days at the 3,000-seat Glenn Warner facility are sold out.

Tickets, however, remain available for crossover play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium from Tuesday through the title match July 2.

Today's tournament opener at 10 a.m. features Japan vs. the Czech Republic. The opening ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. before the United States-England match.

Still, playing at home can have its advantages, and that's one of the reasons every coach in the tournament other than Stahl said the U.S. team is the favorite to win the Cup again.

Stahl said she isn't sure, "but we'd like to be the fan favorite because it's in the U.S."

England's coach, Lois Richardson, said the United States is favored "just by the nature of the number [of Cups] they've won and they have the most-experienced team."

"Their all-around game; it's very difficult to find an area of deficiency," said Wales coach Margaret Corbitt. "You have to look very hard to find an opportunity to really create a dent in their armor."

The team most likely to find that flaw -- if there is one -- is Australia. The coaches have given the Americans the edge, but most put the Aussies a close second.

The Australians, however, suffered a setback earlier this week when 14 players and two coaches came down with salmonella poisoning after eating apparently contaminated seafood Sunday night.

They all practiced yesterday, but remained a bit weakened.

Fortunately for the Australians, they have a bye today and don't begin play until tomorrow's 5 p.m. match with Wales. By the time the Australians meet the Americans in pool play Sunday at 2 p.m., they should be close to full strength.

This year's competition will include 10 teams for the first time -- up from eight in 2001 in High Wycombe, England.

New Zealand is making its international debut and the Czech Republic returns to the competition after missing the past two Cups.

As pool play begins today, the top five teams from the last World Cup competition are in Pool A: the United States, Australia, England, Canada and Wales. The other five are in Pool B.

Cup teams at a glance

Australia

Coach: Max Madonia (first World Cup)

Participation: Seventh appearance

2001 result: Second

Championship: 1986

Outlook: Familiar faces dot the Aussie lineup as nine of the 16 players starred at Maryland or Loyola, including Jen Adams, Sarah Forbes and Stacey Morlang. Australia has been plotting to take the cup back Down Under with six months of training. It won the last time the cup was contested on U.S. soil and should push the Americans.

Canada

Coach: Tracy Coyne (second World Cup)

Participation: Seventh appearance

2001 result: Fourth

Best finish: Third, 1982

Outlook: The Canadians have much more experienced players than with their last World Cup squad, which included high school players. Everyone on the roster has played college lacrosse in the United States, including Cup veterans Jennifer Johnson and Audrey Kelly. Coyne is the head coach at the University of Notre Dame.

Czech Republic

Coach: Martin Mrlik (first World Cup)

Participation: Second appearance

2001 result: Did not participate

Best finish: Eighth, 1993

Outlook: Money troubles kept the Czech Republic away from the past two World Cups, said Mrlik, but it returns with three World Cup veterans, as well as the youngest player in the tournament, 15-year-old Micheala Srchova.

England

Coach: Lois Richardson (first World Cup)

Participation: Seventh appearance

2001 finish: Third

Best finish: Second, 1986, 1989

Outlook: The team with the best chance of breaking the U.S.-Australia hold on the Cup, the British have toured both countries within the past year and also played several tournaments at home to prepare. With veteran leadership -- Sarah Butt is in her fifth World Cup and Alex Harle in her third -- England also has strong young players.

Germany

Coach: Denise Westcott (second World Cup)

Participation: Second appearance

2001 finish: Eighth

Outlook: Westcott, the former Delaware head coach, said the German team was still working on basic skills in its first World Cup appearance. Now, it's all about strategy -- a big leap in four years. The team should post its first World Cup win.

Japan

Coach: Shizue Takada (first World Cup)

Participation: Fourth appearance

2001 finish: Seventh

Best finish: Seventh, 1993, 1997, 2001

Outlook: The Japanese have a team slogan, "Speed, Stamina and Spirit," and they plan to use all three to break free of seventh place. Akiko Wada will be one of the top scoring threats, and two-time Cup veteran Mihoko Kawanabe leads a young defense.

New Zealand

Coach: Adrian Burns (first World Cup)

Participation: First appearance

Outlook: New Zealand is playing in its first major tournament in just its third year as a national squad. While the team would certainly like to pick up a few wins, Burns said the main goal is to play consistently and not be "overawed" by the atmosphere.

Scotland

Coach: Kim Chorosiewski (first World Cup)

Participation: Seventh appearance

2001 finish: Sixth

Best finish: Third, 1986

Outlook: If the Scottish team can play consistently, it could make the medal round. Inconsistency cost the team at last summer's European Championships, in which it finished second, losing, 6-5, to Wales in the final. Valerie Houston returns for her sixth Cup.

United States

Coach: Sue Stahl (fifth World Cup)

Participation: Seventh appearance

2001 result: First

Championships: 1982, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001

Outlook: With everyone gunning to beat the four-time defending champs, the United States brings in the most veteran squad in the tournament. Twelve of the 16 players were on the 2001 team, including Cherie Greer, Danielle Gallagher and Jess Wilk, who have played in three Cups each. Kelly Amonte Hiller returns as the top U.S. scorer from 2001.

Wales

Coach: Margaret Corbitt (first World Cup)

Participation: Seventh appearance

2001 finish: Fifth

Best finish: Fourth, 1997

Outlook: Last summer's European champions, the Welsh are aiming for the medal round with a mix of veterans and youth. They will be tested in pool play, drawing a spot in the top group with the United States, Australia, England and Canada.

At a glance

What: International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations World Cup

Site: U.S. Naval Academy (Glenn Warner Soccer Facility, today-Monday; Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Tuesday-July 2)

When: Today-July 2

Opening ceremony: Today, 5:30 p.m.

Today's games: Japan vs. Czech Republic, 10 a.m.; Canada vs. Wales, 1 p.m.; Scotland vs. Germany, 4 p.m.; United States vs. England, 8 p.m.

Tickets: Sold out today-Monday. Five-day event passes for Tuesday-July 2: adult, $45; 18 and under, $30; under 6, free. Daily admission for Tuesday-Thursday: adult, $12; 18 and under, $8; or July 1-2: adult, $15, 18 and under, $10.

Parking: Free at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Shuttles every half hour to Glenn Warner from an hour before the first game until an hour after the final game.

Identification: A photo ID (driver's license or passport) is required for entry to Glenn Warner.

World Cup

U.S. roster

Player Pos. Hometown College

Lauren Aumiller A/M Baltimore Virginia

Rachael Becker D Broomall, Pa. Princeton

Quinn Carney M Flemington, N.J. Maryland

Joanne Connelly D Fairfield, Conn. Penn State

Kara (Ariza) Cooke M/D Lansdowne, Pa. Virginia

Danielle Gallagher A Manhasset, N.Y. Wm. & Mary

Randall Goldsborough M Annapolis Maryland

Cherie Greer M Philadelphia Virginia

Kelly Amonte Hiller M Braintree, Mass. Maryland

Kate Kaiser M Cockeysville Duke

Chris Lindsey G Baldwinsville, N.Y. G'town

Sarah (Downing) Nelson M Topsfield, Mass. Harvard

Bonnie Rosen D Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Virginia

Crista Samaras M Annapolis Princeton

Kristin Sommar M N. Wales, Pa. Maryland

Jess Wilk G Pittsburgh Maryland

Foreign players from local colleges

Player Pos. Nation College

Jen Adams M/A Australia Maryland

Sarah Forbes M/D Australia Maryland

Courtney Hobbs M Australia Maryland

Sonia Judd M Australia Maryland

Casey Magor M/A Australia Maryland

Kate McHarg M Australia Loyola

Tess McLeod D Australia Maryland

Stacey Morlang M Australia Loyola

Sascha Newmarch M Australia Maryland

Laura Warren A Wales Maryland

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