Native Americans invented the game of lacrosse, so it’s fitting the Iroquois will have as good a shot as any to become the first nation not named United States or Canada to win the World Lacrosse Championships.
Following a 2010 FIL World Lacrosse Championship that wasn’t to be, the Iroquois will be itching to compete for a world championship. In 2010, British officials would not accept the Iroquois’ tribal documents. Since the Iroquois passports are partly handwritten and lack the holograms and other technological features that guard against forgeries, the team was unable to travel to England and had to forfeit its games.
Ever since 2010, the growth and notoriety of Iroquois lacrosse has grown, due mostly to the Thompsons from the University of Albany. Fans who enjoyed watching Miles, Lyle and Ty Thompson this year will get to see them in action against the best from the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and Australia in the Blue Division of this year’s championships. In total, five Thompsons (all related) will suit up for the Iroquois.
It’s encouraging to see a record 38 countries competing this year, but very few have a realistic chance to win the tournament. For the Iroquois, they arguably have as much talent as anyone, United States and Canada included.
The obvious strength is at attack, led by the 2014 Tewaaraton Award winners Lyle and Miles Thompson who both broke the NCAA previous single-season points record in 2014, finishing with 128 and 119 points, respectively. Cousin Ty also posted 53 points via 41 goals and 12 assists. They became the talk of lacrosse with not only their tremendous play, but also their flair and highlight-reel goals.
The Iroquois will be about much more than the Thompsons, though. The roster is full of talent, especially on the offensive end. Former Syracuse star and current NLL star Cody Jamieson helps solidify the midfield, as does Denver Pioneers rising sophomore Zach Miller who had 57 points (38 goals, 19 assists) in his rookie season and was named Inside Lacrosse’s Freshman of the Year.
Veterans out of Syracuse Brett Bucktooth and Sid Smith will help anchor the midfield and defense, respectively. Current Syracuse standout Randy Staats will add more depth at attack. He finished second on the Orange in scoring in 2014 with 56 points behind 33 goals and 23 assists.
The talent is evident, but will this group jell together? There’s good reason to think the players should jell without issue. Right away, the Thompsons have significant chemistry together. Plus, all the Syracuse players have something in common and some have played with each other. The Iroquois have a lot of pride in their sport, so the intangibles should be there.
The biggest questions will be on the defensive end. The Iroquois should be able to score their fair share of goals, and may have more depth at midfield and attack than any nation, but will they stop anyone? If they can play good (doesn’t even have to be great) defense, winning these World Championships is realistically possible.
Teams should expect the very best out of the Iroquois in these championships and to beat them, will need to earn a victory. Nothing will come easy. It will be power against power, especially whenever the United States, Canada and Iroquois play. It should be a wild ride.