Oh, Canada: The Ode to the North at the Space Needle Shootout
This year’s Space Needle Shootout was another resounding success. Despite adding more teams, and 40 additional games, the 6th year of the Space Needle’s competitive shootout left almost all smiling. Perhaps the most interesting facet of the tournament, was the success of the Canadian field teams. It is no surprise to anyone of popularity and experience of Canadian players in the indoor box game. There are a growing number of Canadian field teams with their players coming from the box game.
What makes these teams successful? In 2006, the Canadian men’s national team defeated the U.S. in the Gold Medal game, dethroning the undefeated champions. The U.S. had never lost the Gold Medal game in tournament’s existence until then. Earlier this year, the Toronto Nationals won the MLL Championship. The Nationals utilized numerous tactics from the box game. The common theme now is the implementation of the hybrid box game into competitive college and high school. On most of the top 20 division 1 schools, you will find several athletes from British Columbia, Toronto or other climbs in Canada, on their rosters.
Some characteristics to look at is first: a different mentality to the game. In American field lacrosse, players are taught in separate defensive and offensive schools. However, the Canadian box game has a different idea. It is characterized by the “offensive-defenseman”. These players are usually long stick midfielders that are adept at ball carrying and controlling the middle third of the field. They are threats to scoring and keep the transition element extremely dangerous. Defensemen are taught to attack the goal as well, creating more threats and opportunities to score.
Many of the goals scored by Canadian teams on the U.S. teams are in transition. Transition and offensive-minded defensemen are also key traits of the Canadian teams. In the box game, the smaller goals and large padded goalies make scoring difficult, transition is often the easiest way to score goals. While these are only a few facets of the Canadian game, these were the most prevalent by observation at the Shootout that allowed for Canadian teams to succeed.
In conclusion, tournament coordinator Fred Wilmot was pleased to see the attendance, “this was another opportunity to bring the lacrosse community together, not only in Washington, but from across the country and the border”. He also noted that there was no U.S. team in any of the tournament championships this year. That begs the question, what will it take for the U.S. to be able to beat the Canadian field teams?
Thanks to all the parents, volunteers, coaches and players who made the tournament possible. See you all next year.