Rabil's Breakout Game Paces Team USA to Win
Paul Rabil got untracked for three goals in the first quarter and would add two assists in Team USA's 17-5 victory over host England in the FIL World Championships.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
-- Lacrosse fans here in Manchester have waited with bated
breath for what they saw Monday from Paul Rabil.
Arguably the most popular player in the world, Rabil’s splits and swims drew “oohs” and “aahs” during the U.S. national team’s first three games. Too often, though, they were followed by “ohs” when Rabil missed just high or wide or hit a pipe.
There were no such disappointments Monday.
Rabil’s breakout game included three first-quarter goals and two assists that helped Team USA overcome an uneasy start to blitz host England, 17-5, in its penultimate pool play encounter. The Americans, who have scored 39 goals in two games since their offensively challenged 10-9 loss to Canada, close preliminaries Tuesday against Japan.
“My role is to generate offense for the team. Each game I felt like that’s the task at,” Rabil said. “These past two games I’ve ended up with chances on goal where I’ve converted, but it’s so important that we have a collective effort, that it doesn’t matter who gets goals or assists. I was on the lucky end in the first quarter, but as long as we’re scoring it’s good.”
The U.S. shot just 9-for-37 against Canada. Since then, coaches have tweaked the lineup to include Ryan Powell at attack and Mike Leveille on the first midfield line.
A hot Rabil doesn’t hurt, either.
“He just got his shot going right out of the gate. He’s a great guy to coach, because he comes ready to play every single day,” said offensive coordinator Joe Alberici. “You saw today the radar was on. Hopefully we can get that continuing through the rest of the tournament.”
Rabil scored all three of his goals in the first quarter, as the U.S. turned an early 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 lead with a deluge of goals in the quarter’s final minutes.
Team USA led 8-2 by halftime. Kyle Sweeney made it 9-2 less than two minutes into the third quarter on a transition play – the fourth goal in five games for the U.S. long pole.
England’s Adrian Bennett answered on the ensuing possession to close back within six, but consecutive fast break goals off Alex Smith faceoff wins – one finished by Ryan Boyle and the other by Brendan Mundorf – in a 45-second span put Team USA out of reach.
Rabil added two assists to his three goals to finish with a game-high five points. Mundorf and Leveille each finished with three goals and an assist. Powell had two goals and two assists.
Smith and Stephen Peyser combined to go 16-of-24 on faceoffs.
“We did a little mixing and matching,” Rabil said. “It’s been consistent that everyone gets opportunities. It’s all about opportunities.”
Against Canada, Rabil was silenced by long pole Brodie Merrill after scoring one and stuck a short-stick defender on Boyle or Westervelt.
Alberici said Team USA got too match-up happy.
“We felt like we walked away with too many empty possessions. We felt like our shooting could have been better… What we’ve been saying is, hey, let’s just do what we do well, and we’re going to be effective,” he said.
That includes, Alberici said, taking long sticks like Merrill to task.
“We know who we like to go to. In a lot respects it doesn’t really matter if there’s a pole or a short on him,” he said. “Those guys can still produce.”
For Rabil, it means producing more “oohs” and “aahs,” followed by twine-tickling cheers.
News & Notes
Defenseman Eric Martin sat out for the second straight game with turf toe… Defensive midfielder Chris Schiller, who has brandished a long pole at times in Martin’s stead, left the game in the fourth quarter after getting slashed in the leg. Team doctors said afterward that there was no serious injury… Team USA’s opponent Tuesday, Japan, is coming off the biggest win in its international history – an 11-9 upset of Australia. Barring another upset of the Aussies by Germany or England taking down Canada, the Japanese will be in the medal round.
FIL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – BLUE DIVISION PRELIMINARIES
Team USA 17, England
USA – 5 – 3 – 5 – 4… 17
ENG – 1 – 1 – 1 – 2… 5
Goals: USA - Rabil 3, Leveille 3, Mundorf 3, Powell 2, Crotty 2, Sweeney, Seibald, Westervelt, Boyle; ENG – Watson 2, Baxter, Bennett, L. Ratcliff.
Assists: USA – Rabil 2, Powell 2, Boyle 2, Cinosky, Seibald, Leveille, Striebel, Mundorf; ENG – Roberts
Saves: USA – Dougherty 6, Fullerton 2; ENG – McAllister 13, Anderton 4.
Faceoffs: USA 16, ENG 8
MORE MONDAY RESULTS
Blue Division: Canada 23, Germany 4; Japan 11,
Play-In Matches, Top Division: Ireland 12, Sweden 7; Scotland 17, Czech Republic 14,; Netherlands 16, Spain 1; Wales 9, Finland 7.
Play-In Matches, Middle Division: Poland 14, Bermuda 10; New Zealand 11, Switzerland; Latvia 12, Hong Kong 10; Slovakia 14, Norway 4.
Play-In Matches, Lower Division: Italy 13 Argentina 9; Austria 15, France 4; Korea 10, Mexico 9.
Korea 10, Mexico 9 – Lee Hunyoung (4g) got the game-winner on a Park Wonjae (2g, 2a) assist in the final minute to boost Korea to its first win of the tournament.
Scotland 17, Netherlands 14 – Scotland’s Jordan McBride scored a sock trick (6g) in this attack-packed affair. McBride leads the team with 17g and 5a overall.
Austria 15, France 4 – After a closely
contested first quarter, Austria went on a nine-goal run that put
the game out of reach. Attacker Valentin Bombosch led the way with
New Zealand 11, Switzerland 3 — It was another proud day for Mrs. Clayton, as her three sons – attackers Andrew and Richard and midfielder Mike – combined for seven of the Kiwis’ 11 goals.
Latvia 12, Hong Kong 10 – This closely contested match had two ties and two lead changes in the first half, but after the break Latvia slowly pulled away from a determined Hong Kong team. The win sets the Latvians up for a rematch with New Zealand, which defeated Latvia 11-5 earlier in the tournament.
Wales 9, Finland 7 – Finland’s John Snellman scored three straight goals in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to topple Wales, which built a 4-0 lead early on.
Netherlands 16, Spain 1 – Scott Janssen put up 2g and 2a in the rout of Spain. Janssen is currently the tournament-wide points leader, with 11g and 12a total.
Slovakia 14, Norway 4 – Slovakia dominated face offs, 15-5, to race to an easy victory over Norway.
Italy 13, Argentina 9 – The Italians recorded their second straight win in FIL competition thanks to 6g from attacker Steve Whitford. Former Virginia Cavalier Tim Fuchs chipped in 3g and 3a in the victory.
Poland 14, Bermuda 10 – Justin Rychlicki led Polska with 5g. The Polish-American midfielder played his college ball at Canisius (N.Y.) College in the States, where his coach was current Team Canada assistant Randy Mearns. Canadian defender Matt Vinc and goalie Angus Dineley are also Canisius alums.
Ireland 12, Sweden 7 – Irish American
attacker Matt Walsh led the way for Eire with 6g. Matt played for
Siena College as an undergraduate and is currently working towards
a master’s degree in international relations at the
University of Cape Town, South Africa.
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