Road to Gold in Finland: Getting ready for the first game against Australia

Calvert Hall lacrosse standout Stephen Kelly is in Turku, Finland this month as a member of the U.S. under-19 men's national team, which is competing in the Federation of International Lacrosse U-19 men's world championships. The U.S. has won all six titles since the tournament began in 1988. Kelly, a two-time first-team All-Metro midfielder, will share his experiences with a daily blog as he tries to bring home a gold medal. The U.S. opens play on Friday against Australia.

Hello everybody! The last day and a half in Finland has been unbelievable and the team is even more amped up to play tomorrow against Australia in our first game.


Yesterday was the first time our team had a hard, intense practice where we got to practice on the field where we are playing all our games.

After battling it out on the field, the team took our competitiveness to the gym, where we set up a floor hockey tournament. There were some nifty plays happening left and right and our head coach Tim Flynn even got in on the action making some sweet saves in the goal.

Later in the day, we had another short, but hard practice just getting ourselves even more prepared to play.

Later that night most of the team went out to dinner, where most of us stumbled upon a restaurant called Hess Burger, the closest thing we could find to some American food. Most of us devoured what we ate as getting used to the Finnish food has been pretty tough for everyone. After a long and hard working day, most of the guys hit the hay to get some rest for an even more eventful day in the morning.

This morning we had a short helmet-and-gloves practice to prep everything up one more time before our game tomorrow.

However, this afternoon and evening were probably the highlights of the trip so far.

In the afternoon, everyone got about 3 hours to go around the city of Turku and see different things. It was a pretty awesome city and at the end of the afternoon many of us found ourselves chilling on the top of a boat hanging out together.

After some relaxing time and sightseeing, the team headed up to the field for the opening ceremonies. This was an awesome experience as all the countries participating in the World Games walked out onto the field holding their flag and representing their country.

After a couple of speeches by some people, the teams headed into the stands and the first game between Finland and the Czech Republic started to kick off the 2012 FIL U-19 World Lacrosse Championship.

It was really cool seeing these kids from countries I never really knew played lacrosse playing in a game.

Our team only stayed for the first half, but it was an awesome experience and now we are all back at Petrea about to get some rest before our first game tomorrow against Australia.

I will update everyone on how the first game goes and I hope you guys keep tuning in throughout the journey. Go USA!

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