One mantra Iroquois Nationals head coach Rich Kilgour has preached, is playing a team concept. And that was on full display Friday night in the opening game of the 2015 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championships.
With Lyle Thompson and Jeff Shattler leading the way, scoring three goals each, the Iroquois Nationals kicked off their quest with a 13-9 win over the United States in front of a sold out crowd at the Syracuse War Memorial Arena.
“I’m happy with how we played,” Kilgour said. “There were some lapses, but that’s going to happen. It was our first game together. I really liked how we moved the ball. I liked how we brought that team concept. When we do that, I think we’ll be tough to beat.”
And the Iroquois Nationals showed that right off the start, with Johnny Powless scoring the first two goals before the game was seven minutes old.
Shattler and Miles Thompson also scored in the first quarter, while Joe Resetarits replied for the Americans.
Adam Bomberry and Miles Thompson replied to another Resetarits goal to open the second quarter, before Joe Walters and Blaze Riordan inched the United States closer.
But it was Shattler’s shot from outside and another marker from Lyle Thompson to gave the Iroquois Nationals more breathing room.
The Americans, again attempted to come back in the fourth quarter, led by Walter’s two goals, while Jeff Ratcliffe, Resetarits, and Joel White added singles. But again, the Iroquois Nationals had a response.
Lyle Thompson added two more goals, with, Shattler, Randy Staats, and Brandon Goodwin pitching in with one goal each.
While the offence was solid, moving the ball well, the defence was anchored by goalie angus Goodleaf, who turned in a great performance, making 39 saves.
“Coach always says, it’s always about we, not me,” Lyle Thompson said. “I really like the chemistry we have. We’re all here to play a game we love. And it’s a game we all grew up playing.”
Shattler said the chemistry he and the Thompson brothers showed early in the tournament is because of their love for the game.
“They’re all great players, so it’s easy to play with them,” Shattler said. “I really liked what we were able to do tonight. Hopefully we can build on that.”
While the team was happy with the performance, it certainly wasn’t perfect.
“There are things we liked, but there were certainly things we can correct,” Kilgour said. “It’s early in the tournament. Right now we’re building and trying to get better.”
As for the sold out crowd, the team couldn’t help but get chills when they ran out onto the floor.
“Playing here is amazing,” Lyle Thompson said. “The crowd was loud. It’s something I think we can use it to our advantage.”
With a day off Saturday, the Iroquois Nationals are back in action against the defending champions, from Canada at the War Memorial at 5 p.m.
Media Relations, Iroquois Nationals