“The teams from Australia, England and Finland stayed there, too. It was really cool to hang out with people from a completely different country from a different side of world that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to play lacrosse. You kind of realize that they’re kids just like we are. We all had a lot more in common than I would’ve expected.” . . .
“I’d never been to Europe, and Finland is quite the experience. It’s only dark like three or four hours a day. The sun didn’t go down until like 11:30 at night, so it was tough to fall asleep. We ended up taking a lot of naps during the day. By 3 in the morning, it started getting light out again.” . . .
“We walked around the town a little bit and started to get a sense of the culture. Everything about that place is different. Everything there is so expensive. Sales tax is like 20-25 percent. . . . Mostly in our time off, we were so exhausted from not sleeping and the amount of lacrosse we were playing that we just wanted to nap. I guess one of the huge things in Finland is hanging out in the sauna, so a lot of guys did that. There were some epic games of floor hockey in the gym, too.” . . .
“The main thing that got most of us was the food. The Finnish kids loved it, so maybe we were just picky, but I don’t think so. Everyone [on the U.S. team] agreed that the food was bad. It was mostly Finnish food in the cafeteria, a lot of fish, and they eat everything with noodles or rice. It got pretty old, pretty quick. I think we all lost at least 10 pounds. When I got home I crushed some Chipotle ASAP.”
On July 14, Canada beat the U.S. team 11-9 in overtime. “Everyone was pretty shocked. The U.S. U-19 team had been 36-0 [in the event all-time] before this tournament, and so I guess we were all pretty disappointed with the loss, but our coach [Tim Flynn] told us the past record had nothing to do with us. He didn’t want us to panic. I think Canada was better than they have ever been before.” . . .
Two days later, the U.S. team lost to the Iroquois national team, 15-13, to fall to 1-2 in the tournament. “That night everyone was basically freaking out. We had a two and a half hour ‘players-only’ meeting. We talked about a lot of things and basically figured out some issues that we had. Looking back, I think that was the turning point of the tournament. Handling that adversity was what really brought us together.” . . .
“I had never really played D-middie, but in this tournament, I ended up doing it a lot . It was a big change for me, but I think it’s going to make me a better player. After we lost to Canada, I talked to my coach and told him, ‘Whatever you need me to do, I’ll do it.’ In lacrosse, somebody’s got to [play defensive midfielder], but nobody really wants to do it. I just wanted to do whatever it took to walk away with the gold medal.”
“I still got my shifts running offense but I did a lot of defense. It’s funny because I’m always the guy that people try to stop on offense, so it was a humbling experience. I think it definitely made me better and will really prepare me for Chapel Hill in the fall, just being ready to compete at that level.” . . .
“We really started to come together as the tournament went along, and we were just having a lot of fun. We were going crazy on the sideline at everything good that happened — goals, clears, saves. We were mad men on the bench. We even got a sideline warning because of it. Guys on the field started feeding off the energy and the crowd got into it, too. It’s amazing how easy [lacrosse] can be when you really believe in what you’re doing. At times, it was hard to believe in what we were doing, but we figured it out and came home with the gold.” The U.S. team won its final four games of the tournament to take the U-19 world title for the seventh time in as many tries, avenging both of its losses along the way. . . .
“It was unbelievable [to win.] Words can’t really describe the feeling. Not too many people get to say they’ve won a gold medal. Obviously, lacrosse isn’t an Olympic sport, so the chance to wear your country’s uniform is pretty amazing.”
Check out LaxMagazine.com — the official publication of U.S. Lacrosse — for more tournament coverage.