This writer swore up and down that the Haudenosaunee would take the gold medal at this year’s World Men’s Lacrosse Championships. They were stacked. They had the energy. They had the crowd on their side. And they had Austin Staats.
Well, that didn’t happen, but the Haudenosaunee did win their last game of the tournament, taking the bronze medal over Australia 11-6 at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium.
“We knew we had to come to play,” said Lyle Thompson after the game on ESPN. “We continue to grow every time we come through these world games and Australia continues to get better. We know every opponent we face does the same thing.”
Austin Staats led the team, once again, scoring three goals to finish the tournament as the top scorer with 30 goals and 38 points overall. He was named to the tournament All-Star team, though the MVP went to the USA’s Brennan O’Neill who scored five goals in the gold medal game against Canada.
Thomas Graham got Australia on the board first, and that 1-0 lead help for most of the quarter until Lyle Thompson’s first of the game evened the score. Thompson dodged two defenders to beat Australia goalie Sean Aaron. Matt Wood and Brendan Bomberry traded goals in the last minute to end the quarter tied 2-2.
Australia’s Connor McDonough put the Ozzie’s up 3-2, but the Haudenosaunee took over from there. Lyle kicked off the run to tie it. Staats gave the Haudenosaunee the lead with a high shot off a pass from Kyle Jackson, who then scored his own goal for the two-goal lead. Staats scored his second after spending awhile looking for a pass before taking it himself to the net.
Staats got his hat trick on the man up early in the third. Brayden Panting got one back for Australia on the man up, and then Wood scored another 1:10 later. It was 7-5 Haudenosaunee heading into the fourth.
Thompson completed his hat trick to kick off the fourth quarter. Randy Staats then got in on the action, finding Thomas Hoggarth in front of the net with a behind-the-back pass to make it 9-5. Lachlan Walker found the back of the net for Australia, but the Haudenosaunee tacked on two more to end the game. Ron John found Hoggarth again after a big save from Warren Hill in the defensive end, and Zach Miller capped the game with a goal into the empty net on a two-man advantage.
It wasn’t the colour of medal they were looking for, but the Haudenosaunee still won the tournament as the keepers and teachers of the game. Lacrosse is about more than medals and awards for them.
“Whenever you put this jersey on, you’re representing, so we can’t just go home empty handed,” Thompson said. “It’s fun every time. I’ve been part of this team since I was 15 years old… it’s been quite the journey and we know that what we’re doing this for, is playing this game for entertainment for the creator, but also for our people back home.”