World Lax: USA wins controversial gold

Canada’s Curtis Dickson is slammed to the ground by Team USA’s defense during the gold medal game of the 2018 FIL World Championships. (Photo credit: Oded Karni)

Team USA took home gold versus Team Canada at the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championships on Saturday, but the victory will always have an asterisk beside it.

Tom Schreiber, aka Captain America, scored the game-winning goal despite a moving pick and shot-clock issues in the dying seconds of the game. In the final minute, the U.S. had three consecutive shots go high of the cage. After the last one, Rob Pannell quickly fed the ball from the end line to a cutting Schreiber and he finished it inside for his third goal of the game. Officially, the goal was scored at 79:59 but game officials could not seem to figure out how much actual time should have been on the clock after a couple of late whistles. Time appeared to be added at least twice. Fans began talking and writing about the issue on social media before the game was over. Even the American broadcasters from ESPN were incredulous at the unfair turn of events, which started with a phantom offside call on the Canadians with three minutes left; on the ensuing American possession, Ryan Brown tied the game at eight.

“We didn’t feel like we were offside,” said Canadian head coach Randy Mearns. “That happened with about three minutes left. We were up a goal and we have the ball… and we are pretty good at holding the ball.”

Both teams seemed to be pretty evenly matched as usual. The fact that the game could even come down to the officials during world play is mind boggling. Overtime would have been entertaining and more fair than the start-stop play of the last few seconds.

“The fact that this game had to literally go to the last second speaks to the competition between the two teams,” Schreiber said. “I have a ton of respect for those guys on the other side… I know how competitive they are. In some ways it’s a shame the game had to end that way… but we’ll certainly take it.”

The USA built an early 2-0 lead but the Canadians stormed back with three goals in just under three minutes to take a 3-2 lead. They scored one more before the first quarter ran out.

Each team scored twice in the second frame; Canada led 6-4 at the half.

Team USA took over in the third, outscoring Canada 2-0 to tie the game at six. Canada took 7-6 and 8-7 leads in the fourth quarter before the offside call tied the game.

From fans to players, armchair GMs to professional referees, people have replayed the clips, done freeze frames, analyzed the players and made their final calls. The overall consensus appears to side with Team Canada, which is already looking ahead to the 2022 tournament in Coquitlam, BC.

“It is what is is,” Mearns said. “It felt to us like there was nine seconds on the clock, and the play started and the clock didn’t move for four seconds, and it went on and on. The U.S. took a shot and there was four seconds left and we were like, ‘How is it not at zero.’ It was chaotic down there.”

Regardless of which team won, it was obvious that Team Canada and Team USA are evenly matched. This game will be one that is talked about, studied, and replayed for some time. If nothing else it did provide a dramatic ending to the tournament in Israel.

Brown and Schreiber led the USA with three goals each. Josh Galloway made four saves. His Canadian counterpart Dillon Ward made nine. Curtis Dickson led the Canadians with three goals.

The Iroquois Nationals defeated Team Australia 14-12 for the bronze medal. Nigel Morton had four goals for Australia. Austin Staats matched that and added an assist to lead the Iroquois.

— with files from Anna Taylor