On the heels of it's first ever loss internationally (to Team Canada), Team USA/U-19 National Team suffered another loss at the hands of the Iroquois Nation team on July 17, 2012.
There's no doubt that Team USA's U-19 first two losses ever in international competition stings. Many of us still believe that the U.S. lacrosse player is the best athlete in the world. But, the one thing that stands out in these two unprecedented losses is the unavoidable conclusion that both the Canadian and Iroquois National teams, who each train extensively in the box game while they're building their competency and skill level in the field version of the sport, have reached the pinnacle of international field and box lacrosse superiority. This notion, and its possibilities and implications, has been quite controversial over the years, and has triggered many a debate among lacrosse experts, coaches, and aficiondos about what constitutes the best lacrosse player.
Yet to those handful of experts who have been advocating both versions of the sport, experimenting with training programs and methodologies that integrate box and field, it is clear that the time has come to recognize and acknowledge the indisputable evidence that the arguments of "either/or" are no longer valid.
It is no longer relevant to train a lacrosse player in only one version of the sport. The sport has now crossed the artifical boundaries between the two versions and has moved into the realm of "both/and" where top elite college, high school, and youth programs will rapidly adopt those methodologies which integrate skills, knowledge and training approaches.
Programs like the Fire Lacrosse Club, operating in both Florida and Upstate New York, have become the finest examples of how integration of both versions acclerates and maximizes player development. Training its coaches in the DoubleCrosse methodology has yielded some very impressive results for the Fire Lacrosse Club, and in two short years, its players have accelerated their development cycle and, as importantly, are gaining recognition as some of the top lacrosse players in their respective regions.
The following is extracted from an article by Jason Donville:
The number of registered lacrosse players in the USA stands at close to 265,000, which is roughly four times the size of the entire population of the Iroquois nation. Although by far the smallest nation at the U19 World Lacrosse Championships, it is by far the most popular.
This is not simply because they come from a small country, or that it took the players 37 hours to get to Finland or because they have the most amazing stick skills of any team in the tournament. No, it’s because when they are “on,” no team or nation can showcase the sport of lacrosse like the Iroquois can. And Tuesday they were on, as Team Iroquois stunned Team USA with a 15-13 victory on Day 5 at the World U19 Lacrosse Championships in Finland.
Iroquois’ victory and Canada’s win against the USA earlier this week has illustrated the changing face of international lacrosse, in which USA’s dominance was up until recently a forgone conclusion. While Canada and much of Iroquois have long been adept at box lacrosse, it was only in the 1980s that each nation began developing its field programs.
The Canadians in particular were quick to adapt their offensive game to meet the standards of world lacrosse but they lagged behind in the development of defensive midfielders, defensemen and goalies. Over time, players like Virginia’s Chris Sanderson, Georgetown’s Brodie Merrill and Denver face-off specialist Geoff Snider emerged as top-level players in positions other than attack. Fortunately for Canadian lacrosse, they became teachers and/or coaches of the field game.
However, Canada and Iroquois have also benefited from having both a rich box lacrosse history and a close proximity to the U.S, Northeast. The next tier of countries in world lacrosse, namely England and Australia are not so lucky. Both countries are attempting to build up youth lacrosse programs in sporting cultures that are already jammed packed and without the support that comes from easy access to the US prep school and NCAA cultures. England and Australia are holding their own but have been bypassed by Canada and the Iroquois. Indeed, a decade ago, the elite tier of international lacrosse consisted of five countries, where today its stands at three.