Australia Rallies to Beat England at Stars & Stripes
|Australia rallied from a 6-3
deficit to beat England 10-9 at the US Lacrosse Stars & Stripes
event at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- In a hotly contested game versus a determined opponent, Australia found a way to win, rallying to defeat England, 10-9, on Thursday in the 11th annual US Lacrosse Stars & Stripes tournament at Stanford University. Attacker Sarah Mollison took advantage of an unsettled situation on the crease and scored the game-winner with just 42 seconds remaining.
"The main goal of this week for everyone was just working together, and I was in the right place at the right place at the right time," Mollison said.
England controlled the final draw, but could not manage a shot before time ran out.
"We just wanted to compete, and not be pushed off it, and try to win the 50-50s and try to make the most of everything," England coach Sarah Butts said. "I think the pleasing thing was that the team got out there and did it together. They got some great saves and some good clearing options."
Australia struck first at 21:20 on a Lyndsey Paton goal assisted by Hannah Nielsen, who led all scorers with three goals and three assists. England answered with three straight goals, and led 6-3 by 10:59. Then Australia stepped up its defensive efforts, shutting out Team England for more than 21 minutes while rattling off five straight goals to take an 8-6 lead in the second half.
But England would not be put off. Charlie Finnigan ended the scoring drought in style, scoring two goals just 16 seconds apart to tie the game at 8-8 with 14:47 to play.
The teams traded possessions for the rest of the half, with neither side able to gain a significant advantage. Even Mollison's game-winner was a scramble – she grabbed the rebound of a failed shot and beat English keeper Cat Gaunt for her second goal of the day.
"Coming up with the draw, with the ground balls, we were a step behind," Mollison said. "We definitely picked up on the draw and the pressure on defense, and that just enabled us to get a little momentum in a tough game."
Australia narrowly won the draw battle, 11-10.
English midfielder Laura Merrifield (1g, 1a) nabbed the final draw control, but England struggled to find a seam in the Australian defense as the clock ticked down. Aussie defender Sachiyo Yamada had a key caused turnover on English midfielder Kirsten Lafferty, effectively ending the would-be tying possession and sealing Australia's win.
Even in a loss, England demonstrated a balanced attack with eight different scorers, and the athleticism and fitness to match one of the top squads in the world. That is promising for a team keen to get back on the medal stand at the 2013 FIL Women's World Cup.
After a disappointing fourth place finish at the 2009 FIL Women's World Cup Prague, the English have since won the 2012 European World Cup, defeating Wales, 11-5, in the final and going 8-0 in the tournament.
In Prague, England lost to Australia by a margin of 15-4. At the Stars & Stripes tournament, they came within inches of a win, albeit to an Australian team playing without superstar Jen Adams.
"We just go out and compete. Whenever you go out and play the top teams, whether it's Australia or America or Canada, you know it's going to be fast and competitive," Butts said. "We just have to keep working on that, and keep working on our game strategy all the way through."
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* Full Event Schedule/Ticket Information
Other Thursday Scores
ENGLAND 18, RIKKYO (JAPAN) 1
Twelve players scored in Team England's win, led by attacker Olivia Higson (3g). Attacker Namiko Omura scored for Rikkyo.
AUSTRALIA 20, RIKKYO 0
The Australians' first game of the day was a showcase for the younger players on its roster. Coach Max Madonia held star veterans such as Sarah Mollison, Hannah Nielsen and Marlee Paton out of the game. Attacker Danelle Mollison (cousin of Sarah) led all scorers with four goals and two assists
ENGLAND 16, RIKKYO 2
English midfielder Laura Merrifield led all scorers with four goals in the opening game of the Stars & Stripes weekend. Midfielder Keely Watts added two goals and one assist for Team England. Rikkyo midfielder Izumi Asano scored both of her team's goals, and goalie Chiaki Ando made eight saves in the loss.
ENGLAND 12, STANFORD 8
The host Cardinal gained an early 4-0 lead but Team England stormed back for its second win of the event, led by Merrifield's three goals and one assist. Midfielder Ruby Smith and attackers Sophie Brett and Charlie Finnigan each added two goals to the total for the English team. Junior attacker Rachel Ozer led Stanford with three goals.
STANFORD 20, RIKKYO 2
A pair of freshmen led the scoring for the Cardinal, with hat tricks for both midfielder Meg Lentz and attacker Paige Southmayd. In total, 12 different players scored for Stanford. Attacker Kanako Abe and midfielder Yumi Kimura each scored once for Rikkyo.
Check back to LaxMagazine.com for more coverage from US Lacrosse's Stars & Stripes event.