The United States reestablished its supremacy in world lacrosse with a 22-14 victory over Australia tonight in the final of the World Games at Johns Hopkins University.
The Americans, who have won 13 of 14 games in the World Games, took the title for the third time in four tries. Their only lapse in the tournament, which dates back to 1967, came in 1978, when they lost to Canada by one goal in overtime in the final.
"The difference between this tournament and the last one is that we really had the 23 best players in the United States and they probably are the best lacrosse players in the world," said U.S. Coach Tom Flatley, who was an assistant coach in 1978 at Manchester, England. "The players didn't have to make a four-week commitment and spend $1,500 to go someplace to play."
Before a sellout crowd of 11,435, the U.S. team scored eight straight goals in the first 12 minutes of the second half to expand a 10-7 halftime lead into a more comfortable 18-7 cushion. The Australians rebounded to outscore the United States, 7-4, over the last 35 minutes, but they could do no more than put a small dent in the U.S. lead.
Fourteen of the United States' 15 offensive players had a hand in the onslaught, getting either a goal or an assist. For the game, the United States outshot the Australians, 78-35. U.S. goalie Tom Sears had only five saves, compared with 29 by Australian goalies. Peter Cann led the Australians with six goals.
"Some of our guys mentioned they were tired at the half, so we put in fresh guys and I guess we just sort of wore them down," Flatley said. "In the third quarter we hit a little explosion and put them away."
Brook Sweet, who finished with a game-high seven goals to make him the tournament's leading scorer with 19 goals, scored twice in the third-quarter spurt. After the United States had shredded the Australians' zone defense with six goals in the period, Australian Coach Alec Inglis removed goalie Terry Magee in favor of Rob Walton, who had played the entire first half.
The Australians had hoped to wear down the speedy U.S. team with an extremely physical game, but ended up having to abandon that strategy when five of their players left with injuries.
"That was a great offensive team," Inglis said. "There was nothing we could have done at all to stop them. They were just waiting to break out."
The United States, which also got three goals from Jeff Cook, led throughout, but never could go on top by more than three goals until the third period. The Australians trailed, 3-0 and 6-3, but each time managed to cut the lead to one goal.