Once again, Birmingham showed up to support lacrosse. Once again, Canada spoiled the party by securing the gold medal.
This time, the Canadian women’s lacrosse team saved its best for last with a decisive fourth quarter in a 14-12 victory over the U.S. before a noisy crowd of 2,000 at PNC Field on the UAB campus.
Canada came to Birmingham fresh off a gold medal game loss to the U.S. in the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship in Maryland. That loss helped motivate Canada down the stretch on Saturday.
“We just knew we had eight minutes left, and we were pushing through,” said Canada’s Erica Evans, who scored four goals in that championship game loss. “We had so much we were fighting for, especially with that loss in the World Championship. We came out here on the field. It was our last game, and we just put it out there.”
The United States entered the fourth quarter with an 11-10 lead. It didn’t take long for Canada captain Dana Dobbie to put the ball in the back of the net to tie the score. Aurora Cordingley and Evans sandwiched goals around a U.S. goal by Belle Smith to give Canada a 13-12 lead.
Lauren Spence, Canada’s 18-year-old goalie, was sensational the rest of the way. She made big stop after big stop, some of them coming against shots just outside the crease.
“My gosh, she was awesome,” Evans said of Spence, who had 13 saves. “For a kid - she’s 18 years old - she was playing phenomenal. It’s great to have her back there; she’s such a great part to our defense.”
Canada built the two-goal cushion with a goal by Nicole Perroni with just over four minutes remaining. From there, it was up to Spence and the Canada defense to seal the victory.
The United States controlled the first eight minutes of the game and had control much of the first half. The U.S. led, 3-1, after one quarter and 6-2 late in the half. Canada scored the final three goals of the second half, and neither team led by more than two goals afterward.
Smith scored five goals for the United States. However, the Americans had to settle for a silver medal.
“It’s been an amazing experience, even though it didn’t end up the way we wanted it to," said U.S. goalie Madison Doucette, who made several key stops on Saturday. “When you wear the red, white and blue, you want one thing, and that’s gold. We came up short tonight, which is a really tough pill to swallow. I tip my hat to the Canadians.”
That doesn’t take away from what was a special night for women’s lacrosse and another great audition for the Sixes style of lacrosse to be in the Olympic Games.
“We saw the turnout at the boys game, on a Tuesday night, I think,” Doucette said. “Ours was similar tonight. I think it’s a beautiful thing. It shows the [International Olympics Committee], shows world lacrosse that we can do this thing - we deserve to be on the main stage. We want to be part of it. Shoutout to Birmingham for showing out because that helps our cause.”
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