Australia sewed up the top-seeded spot in the tough side of the bracket as pool play concluded yesterday in the International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations' World Cup at the Naval Academy's Glenn Warner Soccer Facility.
With an 18-3 win over Wales, the Aussies finished 3-0-1. After Sunday's 7-7 draw with the United States, the two teams finished with identical records, but Australia earned the top spot based on a goal differential formula. Australia defeated the other teams in Pool A - Canada, England and Wales - by an average of 13.7 goals per game, while the United States beat them by an average of 7.7.
As crossover play begins today, Australia will meet first-time Cup contender New Zealand, which did not win a game in Pool B. The United States draws the Czech Republic, whose only win came over New Zealand, 21-6.
Look out for Japan
The most improved team in this year's tournament is clearly Japan, which finished seventh four years ago and now has a chance to earn a medal.
The Japanese routed every opponent in Pool B, rolling up 74 goals in four games. With their final pool game, a 19-6 win over previously unbeaten Scotland Sunday night, the Japanese outscored their four Pool B opponents by an average margin of 16 goals.
Nobody has been able to keep up with their speed, quickness and athleticism as the Japanese like to strike quickly with a blistering transition game. Their defense, which has allowed only 10 goals, also gives the opposition fits with a high-pressure style that has made it tough to get the ball over midfield.
The question now is how well Japan will do against the stronger Pool A competition. The Japanese meet Wales, which did not win a game in Pool A, tonight, as crossover play begins today en route to the medal round and Saturday's championship. Japan lost to Wales as well as to England earlier this year in England.
My sister, my opponent
This World Cup features four sets of sisters, but Elizabeth and Caroline McCosh have a story much different than the others.
Rachel and Sarah Kircheimer play for England, Eva and Lisa Schulte play for Germany and Michelle and Natalie Turner play for New Zealand, but the McCosh sisters play for different sides.
Elizabeth, 25, plays for England and Caroline, 22, for Scotland.
"My dad is Scottish and my mom is English," said Elizabeth, adding that the sisters have played together for only one year at school.
While the schedule may be running their mother, Mary McCosh, ragged over the 10-day course of the World Cup, the sisters are used to playing on opposing sides, and they appreciate each other's commitments.
"We don't mock each other, because we're each in the same kind of position," said Elizabeth. "It's not really a big rivalry for us."
With England's 11-6 win over Canada last night, it appears unlikely the sisters will face off in this World Cup. Had England fallen to Canada, it would have played Scotland this evening. Instead, the English will meet Germany, and the Scots play Canada.