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July 6, 2014

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Australia Getting Acclimated Before FIL Tournament

by Simon Kaufman | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

VAIL — The Australian National team is taking a tour of the American West and making sure to hit all the tourist spots — at least as far as lacrosse hotspots go.

The Sharks started their trip at the end of June with a trip to Los Angeles and took down a team from the LXM Pro Tour in an exhibition match. Then, the Aussies headed to Colorado for the Vail Lacrosse Shootout. The US trip is in preparation for the World Lacrosse Championships in Denver next week, and getting to the states early has helped Team Australia get ready.

"I think it's been really good just to get on the USA clock," Australia head coach Glenn Meredith said.

Sydney, Australia is 14 hours ahead of Colorado so getting accustomed to the time difference has been key for the team. But jetlag isn't the only thing the Australian squad needs to adjust to.

"The guys are saying it's really hard to breathe up here with the altitude," Meredith said. "A lot of the guys we play with play normally at sea level, so just getting their lungs acclimatized to this atmosphere has been a bit of a trick with us but we think we've got it down."

Team Australia is a mix of players who have been around for a while and some just joining the team — creating a good dynamic according to defenseman Callum Robinson.

Vail is the second stop for Australia before this week's start of the FIL World Championships in Commerce City. The Sharks first landed in Southern California, then moved to the mountains to get acclimated to the altitude. (Clark Bell/Gameface Media/Vail Shootout)

"We've got some older leaders, we've also got some younger leaders," Robinson said. "We've got some young guys that are happy to be here and really competing for some playing time and some older guys who are sort of showing them the ropes and showing them what it's all about at the world level."

In their first game of the weekend the Sharks cruised past the LOFers, 15-4. On Friday, they were just edged out by Lacrossewear, 16-15, putting them in the fifth-place game on Saturday.

Facing the Jammin' Salmon in a Saturday morning contest, Team Australia came out strong, putting on an offensive showcase en route to a 15-7 win.

Now that their tournament is over, though, the team will again have to make more adjustments as it preps for the World Championships in Denver. The Vail Lacrosse Shootout features a 30-second shot clock and a two-point line — rules that won't apply during the Worlds. Team Australia had to practice for this in preparation of the Vail tournament because there rules were foreign to them and now the team must readjust to their accustomed rules before Worlds.

Meredith said that the biggest takeaway from the US tour has been giving his team an opportunity to bond as well as getting used to the altitude before Worlds. Going forward he stressed sticking to their brand of lacrosse with an emphasis on moving the ball.

"We've got it all there we just need to tighten it up a little bit," Robinson said. "Our defense, we just need to practice getting guys to the weaker ends. On offense we have our plays and just have to make sure we're running them properly and getting the ball to where it needs to be."

As for what to expect from Team Australia at the World Championships in Denver, Robinson said the team will be leaving it all on the field.

"Anytime you put on the Australian jersey it's going to be all out," he said. "There's going to be no back -foot stuff. We're going to be getting after it."


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