Howdy, folks. We’re here in downtown Syracuse for the Bowhunter Cup, pitting the Iroqouis Nationals and Team USA in an exhibition matchup at the Oncenter War Memorial in preparation for the third World Indoor Lacrosse Championships next may in the Czech Republic.
Neither of these two squads will likely look the same when those games roll around next may. Iroquois Nationals genral manager Ansley Jemison said he was still putting together a team for the event leading up to it at the end of the week. This version of the Nationals includes Jeremy, Jerome, Miles and Lyle Thompson, even though Jeremy, Miles and Lyle may not be participating in the actual competition next spring. Regardless, the Nationals are already focused on putting together a stronger team than 2007’s crew, which fell 15-14 to Candada in that year’s gold-medal game.
Team USA — headlined by reigning NLL MVP Casey Powell and Paul Rabil — is hoping to improve upon its bronze-medal finish in the 2007 championship, and head coach Tom Ryan will be taking a hard look at each guy (and the one girl) on tonight’s roster to see what who might represent Team USA next time around.
11:03 – Nationals 1, Team USA 0 - It took a few minutes, but the Nationals finally struck first first. And what a coincidence that Cody Jamieson — well known around these parts — puts the ball in the back of the net first, taking a touch pass from Jerome “Haina ” Thompon and sticking the lower left corner, just past Ginny Capicchioni. For those of you that might have missed, it Capicchioni is a woman, and she has held her own in tryouts thus far, according to Team USA coach Tom Ryan.
8:56 Nationals 2, Team USA 0 - Lyle Thompson, likely one of the youngest guys on the Nationals roster, just scored from way out to give the Nationals an early cushion over USA. You have to wonder if guys like Lyle ever thought he’d be competing on the same floor as Casey Powell.
7:41 – Nationals 3, Team USA 0 – Nationals really rolling early now as Shayne Francis just rolled off his man right in front of Capicchioni and buried a pas from Andrew Lazore to extend the Nationals lead.
6:55 – Nationals 4, Team USA 0 -Duey Porter scores unassisted, and the crowd — pro-Iroquois — is really into it now.
3:46 – Nationals 4, Team USA 1 - Team USA stops the bleeding for the moment as Dan Deckelbaum scores after taking a feed from Chris Schiller in transition and buried a shot right on the doorstep.
0:07 – Nationals 4, Team USA 2 – With 6.9 ticks on the clock, Casey Powell pops it to Paul Rabil, who redirects it back to Kevin Buchanan, who took the pass while streaking through the defense and bounced it past netminder Jake Henhawk, who was seemingly impenetrable until just a few minutes ago.
8:39 – Nationals 4, Team USA 3 – Powell finds Buchanan again, and the former Ohio State star and current Minnesota Swarm member buries his second goal of the night.
8:19 – Nationals 5, Team USA 3 – Porter scores another one, unassisted, momentarily slowing the Americans momentum.
7:36 – Nationals 5, Team USA 4 – Powell finds a cutting Greg Rogowski, who puts it in the upper right hand corner with ease.
6:40 – Nationals 5, Team USA 5 - Rabil gets some room, decides to shoot from way out, and Henhawk gets a piece, but it trickles in after hitting a pad.
4:56 – Nationals 6, Team USA 5 – On the extra-man, young Six Nations Arrows star Randy Staats pops it up to his cousin and recent NLL #1-draft pick Cody Jamieson who unleashes a blast from up top.
2:40 – Nationals 6, Team USA 6 - Buchanan walks into the Nationals defense untouched after taking a pass from Rabil and scores uncontested.
1:30 – On a breakaway, Lyle Thompson is stoned by Capicchioni, who makes a dazzling save after the youngest Thompson threw an assortment of fakes while moving at full speed.
0:00 – Capicchioni comes up big again, this time stuffing Jeremy Thompson just before time expires.
Mickey Hover comes into to replace Capicchioni, while Ross Bucktooth is now in net for the Nationals.
13:00 – Joe Walters and Randy Staats having words. Team USA’s Joe Smith and Jamieson now jawing, even shoving.
12:28 – Nationals 7, Team USA 6 - On the resulting man-up for the Nationals, Jerome “Haina” Thompson takes a pass from brother Jeremy, hesitates and then stings the inside of the left pipe.
9:57 – Nationals 7, Team USA 7 – Powell takes the ball behind the cage and dives around it, tucking the ball in between Ross Bucktooth’s legs to tie it up on an outstanding individual effort. The crowd, although they seem mostly in favor of the Iroquois, appreciated Powell’s effort.
5:50 - The Nationals almost score as Lyle and Miles Thompson had most of the arena fooled as Lyle cradled in and shot, but then the ball came ripping out of Miles stick, just wide of the cage.
2:40 – Team USA 8, Nationals 7 – Bill McGlone scores on a fast break to give the Americans their first lead of the contest.
1:16 – Team USA 9, Nationals 7 – McGlone scores again, on what looked like an identical goal compared to the last one.
0:03 – Team USA 10, Nationals 7 – Huge momentum swing here, as Team USA scores its fourth straight. (Trying to double-check that last goal scorer.)
13:25 – Team USA 10, Nationals 8 – Brett Bucktooth dips his stick around a defender and then scoots a shot through the defense, sticking the top right corner.
12:57 – Team USA 11, Nationals 8 - Rabil sneaks inside his man, gets inside his man, gets in front of the crease and pops it into the top left corner.
12:12 – Team USA 11, Nationals 9 – On another powerplay — the result of some of the sloppy play that has found its way onto the floor with lots of guys shoving and jawing — Jamieson sets up Miles Thompson who eyes the bottom right corner and puts it past Hover to reduce the Americans lead.
9:20 – Team USA 12, Nationals 9 - McGlone, the Nationals’ poison tonight, drives and jumps to put the ball in the top left corner while getting mauled right on the crease.
8:01 – Team USA 12, Nationals 10 – Brett Bucktooth weaves into the American defense and casually rips an underhand, backhand blast that goes by Hover’s feet. The crowd loves that one.
3:44 – Team USA 13, Nationals 10 – After some pretty solid goal play on both ends, Team USA gets a goal off a rebound (checking the number), deflating the Nationals and their fans as time is winding off the clock now.
2:18 – Team USA 13, Nationals 11 – Miles Thompson hits Duey Porter who rips an underhand blast with an extra attacker on the floor. Not a lot of time to work with for the Nationals.
0:40 – After Deckelbaum was called for an illegal substitution, the Nationals were pressuring hard at the end, with shot after shot, but Schiller came up with a big loose ball to get it out of the American zone.
FINAL: Team USA 13, Iroquois Nationals 11
After the game, former NLL and MLL player (and coach) Kevin Finneran presented the Bowhunter Cup to the captain’s of its first victors, Team USA, with Casey Powell, Regy Thorpe and Chris Schiller accepting the big trophy.
Powell said the victory was a nice way to start off with Team USA, emerging victorious over an extremely talented and rugged group of indoor players in the Iroquois Nationals.
“It’s a great step in the right direction for USA lacrosse,” Powell said. “It’s a great honor to wear this jersey, it’s awesome to be back in Syracuse, and it’s always good to win.”
Team USA coach Tom Ryan saw his team battle back after falling behind 4-0 to the Nationals. The team persevered, and eventually ended up scoring four-straight goals to close out the third and take a three-goal lead going into the final frame. (The event was played as four 15-minute quarters with a shortened intermission between the first and second and third and fourth quarters, with a longer halftime break.)
Ryan said it would be too soon to mention any names, but indicated that some of the members of Saturday night’s roster seemed to be good fits.
“It’s still a little early to call names out, but what we did see some players really stepped up and deserved to be a part of it.”
Ryan said that his team fell behind early perhaps by making some uncharacteristic mistakes on defense.
“I think we were giving them some shots early on, and these guys are so talented, if you give them room to take a shot, they are going to can it,” he said. “But we were able to tighten it up and made some adjustments. We have a real athletic group on defense, and that’s our game, we have to put pressure on guys and not let them get a clean look at the goal.”
Part of that defense Saturday, Ryan said, was the leadership of Thorpe, who was playing across from several players he’s coached in the past at Six Nations, including Cody Jamieson and Randy Staats.
“We’ve added some leadership on defense,” Ryan said. “(Thorpe) has been a cornerstone of (the NLL) for a longtime now, and to have him is great. And we’ve also got guys like Scott Ditzell and Chris Schiller.”
Powell, who did a great deal of the offensive initiation for Team USA, finished with 1G and 3A by my count (no official stats available in the rafters of the War Memorial). Rabil (2G, 2A – again, unofficial here) also carried a great deal and looked more comfortable as the game went on.
But Ryan was most impressed to see offense from other guys too.
“We saw a lot of good things on offense,” he said. “Kevin Buchanan had three goals, which was a real bright spot. Bill McGlone had three goals. To see offensive firepower on the US side is real encouraging.”
Ansley Jemison, general manager of the Iroquois Nationals, said he was still asking players about their availability on the night prior to the event, but was able to get players to come down on short notice.
“Kids drove down four hours just to come out and play,” Jemison said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids that ran tonight who showed a lot of talent and heart. It was impressive to see what those guys could do.”
Miles Thompson, now a freshman at SUNY Albany, registered a goal and an assist (unofficially) and Lyle, a senior in high school at Salmon River in Upstate New York, also scored once.
After the game, Powell had kind words for the two brothers.
“They are fantastic players and they represent the game really well. I’ve been following those guys for a long time now. They probably have as much experience as I do in this game. They play all the time. They have a great future ahead of them.”
Jemison said it was most impressed with the fact that the young players were so excited to play for the nationals.
“The nice thing about this group is that these younger guys really took pride in what they were doing. It was an honor for some of these guys to get the call for us to say do you want to come out and represent. That’s all good stuff. We want kids who want to wear the colors. These kids really represented it really well.”
Brett Bucktooth, who scored two goals in the contest, one of them a crowd-pleasing, nonchalant underhand laser, also was pleased with the performance of the rising players on the roster.
“We got a lot of young guys, lot coming out of juniors, who play very well for us,” Bucktooth said. “Overall, we played with a lot of pride,”
“But one thing we’ve got to work on is playing a full 60 minutes and not taking any shifts off. And that’s something to build off, by having the veteran guys lead the younger guys and show them what the international games are all about. On the floor, all bets are off and the Iroquois Nationals have got to play the way they know how to play.”
Jamieson – 2G, 1A – said the team’s inexperience was overpowered by excitement to start the game, leading to a nice scoring run.
“We had a lot of youth, and I think that was on our side right from the beginning,” he said. “Some of these guys have never really played against the professionals before. And (Team USA) was all professionals, and that was the key at the start. Everyone had that adrenaline going. Once that wore off, and once everyone started to get a little tired, they started slowing it down and started scoring some goals, and maybe we started tightening the grip on our sticks too much, and started dropping some passes.”
Jemison said the Nationals coaching staff identified looseballs and the slightest bit of indecision as being part of the team’s downfall Saturday.
“We just came up a little bit short,” Jemison said. “And Team USA put on a heck of a floor show. That was a good team they had out there, with a lot of guys who’ve got experience, internationally and at the pro-level of the indoor game.”
Jamieson said it was enjoyable to see his former coach Regy Thorpe suited up on the floor for Team USA.
“It’s a good sight. He’s forty-something years old. He’s out there, still loving the game, keeping it going.”
Jemison said the carpet, which was simply borrowed from the Knighthawks, was of concern to him and his coaching staff.
“The turf was a little bit rough, a little bit bumpy. You got kids out here, young kids. You don’t want injuries to happen. Even with some of the pro guys, they’re heading into training camp in the next couple weeks and there is money invested there. That was a little bit of a concern of mine. But we got out of there healthy.”
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