It has been some time since the controversial gold medal game in Israel.
The 2023 World Games open with a rematch of USA vs. Canada.
Over a week ago, we previewed the Canada offense and wondered what portion of the American roster will be under the most pressure?
The goalies and defense to try to slow them down?
The offense feeling like they must keep pace?
Three more big questions were pondering before tonight’s 10PM faceoff.
Will there be enough chances for the USA face off group to make an impact?
On paper, the duo of Trevor Baptiste and TD Ierlan is the best the US has ever had. However, we just saw a PLL game in which Baptiste went 31 of 36, picked up 26 ground balls, scored a goal and his team still lost. Blame a classic Atlas meltdown and the existence of a 2 point line for that outcome.
There isn’t a 2 point line in international lacrosse. And while, stall ball may be more limited during this year’s event, it is unlikely Baptiste will get a chance to take 26 face offs in a game much less scoop up 26 ground balls.
If the game slows down, Baptiste won’t take as many faceoffs, which means the one absolute advantage the US has over Canada won’t be making a big contribution.
Baptiste’s NLL career has made him more prolific with the ball in his stick. Wouldn’t it be ironic if he scores tonight against Canada?
How will Sowers and O’Neill handle playing in the midfield?
O’Neill rarely was rarely below GLE for Duke this past spring. Last year, the Waterdogs did have Sowers dodge downhill with an up pick at the corner of the box. This isn’t new for them, however, if Sowers isn’t at X especially with his PLL teammate Kieran McArdle, the USA attack unit will not be confused with blistering speed.
If the US runs a midfield of Sowers, Schreiber, and O’Neill are they daring Canada to bump a pole up to free up an attackman to dodge a short stick?
While the Canadian offensive players are comfortable playing positionless lacrosse, we’d expect to have an advantage with Rob Pannell or Matt Rambo dodging a Maple Leaf SSDM below GLE.
Does Canada play possum?
Will the Canadians keep their cards close to their vest? It feels like the second game always tilts in their favor. Maybe this due to the fact that they have recently won two of three titles in convincing fashion and arguably should have won three out of four. How they get their players to buy in and execute every time is remarkable.
What’s going through an NLL player’s head just weeks after playing with a tiny shot clock for almost a year?
Perhaps, given the assumed gap between game one and the finals, the Canadians will be more likely to be vanilla tonight. Perhaps the injury to Owen Grant will force them to test out and reveal their defensive strategy sooner.