Team USA Caps Dominant World Cup Run with Gold
Related: Six U.S. Women Make All-World Team
OSHAWA, Ontario – If there was ever any doubt that the U.S. women's national team was on a mission for gold at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Cup, it was quickly erased Saturday afternoon. The defending champions put on a clinic of offensive firepower and riding excellence, quieting a boisterous home crowd to down host Canada 19-5 and earn a seventh world title.
"It was pretty emotional after the game – a lot of us were breaking down and finally letting it get the best of us, but it was special," captain Lindsey Munday said. "It was so fun to be a part of [Team USA] and to finally come out on top was the culmination of four years of hard work."
A dominant force throughout the tournament, Team USA racked up impressive victories and set numerous all-time records en route to a 7-0 record in which only one team – Australia in an 18-9 pool play win for the Americans – finished within 10 goals.
In the gold medal game, the dynamic duo of Katrina Dowd and Katie Rowan took center stage, with Rowan posting a team championship game-record eight goals with a pair of assists and Dowd scoring three times to go with three assists.
Dowd's hat trick gave her a U.S.-record 26 goals in a tournament, while Rowan's 10 points leaves her tied with Kelly Amonte Hiller for the career points lead at 67.
"We were just clicking," Dowd said. "[Rowan and I] play well together, but it's a team game. We probably have the fastest middies in the world, and we just feed off the environment. It doesn't matter who's putting the ball in the back of the net as long as USA is putting points on the board."
In total, nine players had a goal or an assist for the Americans, with Danielle Etrasco adding a hat trick and Munday netting a goal and two assists.
The defense did its job as well, especially on the ride, as Canada had scoreless stretches of 15 minutes in the first half and a whopping 22 minutes in the second half after a pair of goals out of the break narrowed the gap to 14-4. Canada went just 6-for-14 on clears and turned the ball over 19 times.
"Riding is the signature piece of what we do," Team USA coach Ricky Fried said. "It's the one thing we do with all 12 people, and it just wears people down."
In addition to Rowan and Dowd's record-setting performances, the team as a whole set several marks in its dominant run throughout the field in Oshawa. The 14-point margin of victory in the championship game doubled the previous record set by Australia in 2005. Over the tournament, the Americans averaged a 13.2-goal margin of victory, also a record, while setting records for most goals in the tournament (127) and goals per game (18.1).
"I think having 18 players who are so deep and so talented, we just wear teams down," Munday said. "They see another middie line come in and they're thinking, 'Now we have fresh people we're going against?' We try to top ourselves every game. We set the bar pretty well against England, and I think we got better every game."
Team USA set a high bar for all women's lacrosse teams going forward, both in the record books and sheer "not in the box score" dominance that can only be understood when seeing it in person. The rest of the world has plenty of work to do if it wants to catch up by the next FIL Women's World Cup in London in 2017.
It's a fair bet the Americans will be ready for all challengers. As for today, they'll be content to celebrate.