World Lax: Finland will challenge for fifth

Jakub Vymola and Martin Hodan of the Czech Republic look to slow up Finland’s Brett Kujala at the 2019 WILC. (Photo courtesy of Vancouver Sports Pictures)

In just their second ever appearance at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship, Finland has turned more heads than maybe any team at the tournament. From their dominating 4-0 record in pool play to the offensive firepower they possess, Finland has been one of the most impressive teams at the 2019 WILC.

Finland made more headway on Thursday as they defeated Czech Republic to advance to the fifth place game where they will face Israel and have a chance to fight for not only fifth place, but a spot in the Blue group (the top group!) at the 2023 WILC. And, Finland has done it with plenty of homegrown talent under the tutelage of head coach Tracey Kelusky, an NLL and Canadian lacrosse legend.

In their game on Thursday, Finland was able to rip off some very large runs that really helped them get ahead and secure the 17-9 victory over Czech Republic. Even though Finland was outshot 47-42, it was the quality and not the quantity for this Finland offense that was able to garner much momentum all game long.

While Robert Raittila started the scoring early on for Finland, Czech Republic was able to answer fairly quickly with Pavel Dosly and Tomas Prochazka each finding the back of the net to put the Czechs up 2-1 midway through the first.

Unfortunately for the Czech Republic, that 2-1 lead is the only lead they were able to grab in this contest. Finland was able to get their offense rolling, ending the first quarter on a three-goal run to take a 4-2 lead heading into the second, and continued their run through late in the second quarter. The Czechs were able to score three goals late in the second, including two with an extra attacker on.

With Finland holding a 9-5 lead heading into the third, it was a much more even and defensive heavy quarter on both ends of the floor. Finland started the scoring early on and Czech Republic was able to answer with two of their own, cutting the Finland lead to 10-7. Both offenses pretty much disappeared for the rest of the quarter until Finland was able to convert twice on the power play in the final minutes of the quarter to give them a 12-7 lead and a ton of energy heading into the fourth.

Finland put that newfound energy to use in the fourth as they caught fire, scoring four consecutive goals to push their lead out to 16-7 and effectively put this one to rest. Each team was able to score at least once more in the final minutes of the fourth to cap of the 17-9 victory.

Roope Jokela led Finland with 10 points (2G/8A) while Brett Kujala also tallied nine points (3G/6A). Robert Raittila also put up eight points (7G/1A) in the win. In net, Riku Jokela saw the majority of minutes and made 36 saves off of 44 shots on net for a .818 save percentage.

Czech Republic was led by Pavel Dosly with six points (4G/2A) while Jiri Kostal also put up five points (1G/4A). In net, Peter Dubenski made 23 saves off of 37 shots on net for a .622 save percentage.