Prague – In National Lacrosse League circles Rhys Duch is known as “The Clutch” for his dramatic goals for the Washington Stealth. Unfortunately for the United States that nickname followed Duch to Prague as his four goals powered Canada to a 15-10 win over Team USA. (Check out the live blog here.)
“First and foremost that’s what you’re here to do,” said Duch when asked about playing big in big games. “I am here to score goals and that’s what they asked me to do. I was lucky to put the ball in the net.”
The Americans are now 1-4 against Canada, which includes a 0-3 mark in championship play. The lone U.S. win was in the 2002 Heritage Cup.
The Canada offense also got help from three of the best NLL players in the business: John Grant Jr. (3+2), Colin Doyle (2+2) and Dan Dawson (4+1). Back-to-back NLL Goalie of the Year, Matt Vinc, was stellar in goal, making 31 saves.
The United States was powered by 2010 NLL MVP Casey Powell (4+2), Kevin Buchanan (2+1) and Brendan Mundorf (2+0). The Americans used Erik Miller twice in the game as Jake Henhawk came into the game in the second to allow the Americans to rally from a 5-2 deficit. Miller (26 saves) returned after two quick Canadian goals in the third and gave way to Henhawk (nine saves) in the fourth.
The big guns for Team Canada came out firing to kick off the first two quarters. Grant Jr. struck twice in the first quarter, including a behind-the-back goal from long range, to give Canada a 3-2 lead after one. Powell and Buchanan netted goals for the US to even the game. Twice Canada led only to have the Americans tie the game. Duch netted a goal with 39 seconds left in the first for a 3-2 Canada advantage. He beat Miller five-hole after shaking off a defender.
Dan Dawson opened the second with two straight goals, including a shorthanded marker, in less than a minute. Both goals were quick strikes from in tight. The Americans ended the 3-0 Canada run with an outside laser from Powell at 6:09. That goal sparked a 3-0 US run as Mundorf sneaked a shot past Vinc at 11:15 and then Buchanan added his second 59 seconds later to tie the game at five.
“We were feeling good at halftime. It was important to come back down three goals. That was one of the best teams I have ever seen on paper. Canada is the best team in the world and we knew we had to play pretty close to flawless to win it,” said Powell. “We came out flat in the second half and they took control.”
Canada broke open the game in the third quarter, as Duch had a quarter to remember. The forward scored three times to pull his country ahead 10-6. The Canadians opened the third with goals from Duch and Grant Jr just 41 seconds part to break the 5-5 tie. Those two goals chased goalie Jake Henhawk for starter Miller. Matt Alrich got the Americans within one with a turnaround shot assisted by Powell. Duch, however, joined Grant Jr with his third of the night from outside at 6:40 for a 9-6 advantage. Duch then hit for his fourth at 13:42 on a nice cross-crease feed from Jordan Hall (three assists).
As the third quarter belonged to Duch, the fourth was sparked by Dawson and his early consecutive goals. Team USA hit 24 seconds into the fourth to narrow the gap to three on an outside bounce shot by Mundorf. Canada would not be deterred as Doyle, fresh off an NLL title, scored his second of the game at 4:12 on the power play. Canada then converted the next power-play chance to move in front 12-7. Dawson netted his third on an inside catch and shoot at 5:29. Dawson made it two straight and four for the contest as he beat Miller from just outside the crease at 8:36 for a 13-7 lead. Powell added his third at 10:29 to end the 3-0 run by Canada. Henhawk came back into the game after the goal. Powell then scored his fourth moments later from the left-wing side to cut the gap to 13-9. In the final five minutes, Jeff Zywicki and Jeff Moleski scored for Canada, while Paul Rabil scored for the Americans.
Canada (4-0) advances to the finals to attempt a three-peat at the 2011 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. The contest is a 1:00 p.m. EST start Friday. The Americans (3-2) will again play for bronze for the third straight championships. They will take on the loser of the Iroquois-Czech Republic game at 10:00 a.m. EST.
“This isn’t over. We came here to win, but losing today takes that away from us,” said US Head Coach Tom Ryan. “I think we showed some good things in this tournament. We have one more game left and it’s important that we finish strong.”
Fans can listen to the official Team USA radio show tonight at 6:00 p.m. EST on WHTK 1280-AM and 107.3 FM in Rochester, NY. The 45-minute show is also available online at www.whtk.com . The program features interviews with players, staff and lacrosse experts.Rybczynski currently works as the play-by-play broadcaster and Vice President of Communications for the National Lacrosse League’s Rochester Knighthawks. His role also includes managing the communications for the Rochester Americans hockey club and the Hamilton Nationals (MLL) media relations, as well as serving as Team USA's WILC media relations manager.
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