Read below to find out how the Australian team finished out the 2023 World Lacrosse Men's Championship during playoffs!
AUSTRALIA V NETHERLANDS
After wrapping up pool play as the number four seed, Australia took on Netherlands, the 13th seed.
Both teams came out strong and traded goals in the first two quarters, leaving the score to 7-4 at halftime. To start the second half, Netherlands scored - lessening the Australian lead and keeping themselves in the game. However, with three assists and a goal Australia’s Connor McDonough was a catalyst for a six-goal run. Australia ended the third quarter with a 13-5 lead over the Netherlands. While Netherlands fought to remain in the game, Australia held onto their lead by scoring an additional five goals in the fourth quarter.
Throughout the game, the Australian team had 13 different goal scorers and won 24 of 28 face-offs.
Victoria was well represented by first-class performances from Cal Gibson (Williamstown), Mitchell Baker (Malvern), and Sean Aaron (Camberwell). Gibson had four ground balls and a goal and Baker had two goals, three assists, and a ground ball. Goalkeeper Sean Aaron commanded the defense in the first half and was able to hold the Netherlands to only six shots. In addition, Campbell Mackinnon (Altona) and Jeff Melsopp (Footscray) put points on the board for Australia with one goal each. Chris Moffat (Eltham), Lachlan Russell (Williamstown), Lucas Parsons-Quintiao (Footscray), and Tim Graham (Malvern) also had stellar performances on the field against the Netherlands.
Australia’s 18-7 win over Netherlands secured their spot in the quarterfinals against the number five seed, England.
AUSTRALIA V. ENGLAND
After dominating the second half against Netherlands, Australia was set to play England, the number five seed, in a Pool A rematch from day two. In round one of playoffs, England won by one in overtime against Puerto Rico and entered the quarterfinals averaging the fourth most shots per game. After their big win in round one of playoffs, Australia was fifth in caused turnovers, sixth in most saves, and fifth in assists.
An early goal from Victorian Lucas Parsons-Quintiao put Australia in a 1-0 lead for the majority of the first quarter. England scored late in the first quarter to end the period 1-1. In the second quarter, Matt Heuston scored the only goal of the quarter for Australia.
After halftime, Australia came out strong and went on a 6-0 run in the third quarter. Australia’s Brayden Panting completed his hat trick while Matt Heuston, Lachlan Walker, and Victoria’s Mitchell Baker adding one goal each. At the end of the third quarter, the score was 8-1 but England was determined to stay in the game. In the fourth quarter, England scored four goals while their defense was able to hold Australia to two goals. Australia became the first team to advance to the semifinals and Brayden Panting was named the day eight Top Performer.
AUSTRALIA V UNITED STATES
After another big win against England, Australia was set to play the United States in the semifinals. Heading into this year’s quarterfinal game, the United States were 10-time champions in the competition and have made an appearance in the gold medal game in the last 13 consecutive World Lacrosse Men’s Championships. The team had the third best scoring offense, second best scoring defense, and the best face-off percentage at 82% in this year’s competition. Australia’s counting stats were heavily influenced by the talent of their competitors in Pool A, but the team still managed to hold its own and record two high quality wins against England and an all-star performance against the Netherlands.
Victoria’s own Mitchell Baker scored an unassisted goal early in the first quarter to get Australia on the board. The United States answered with two of their own goals, taking the lead 2-1 at the end of the first quarter. The United States scored three goals to start off the second quarter, creating a four-goal lead. The Australian team fought hard to answer and was able to put another goal on the board, but they were quickly answered with an unassisted goal from the United States’ Kieran McArdle.
The United States was able to hold Australia to a scoreless second half while scoring three goals in the third and two in the fourth. The final score of 11-2 put the United States in the Gold medal game for the 14th consecutive competition and put Australia in the bronze medal game against Haudenosaunee.
Victoria’s Sean Aaron had an incredible performance against the United States with nine saves.
AUSTRALIA V HAUDENOSAUNEE
After a tough loss to the United States, Australia faced Haudenosaunee, the number three seed in the competition.
Australia came out strong with an unassisted goal from Thomas Graham in the first five minutes of the first quarter. The Australian defense, led by Victoria’s own Sean Aaron, was able to stop Haudenosaunee from scoring until there was two minutes left in the quarter. However, with 44 seconds left, Australia’s Matt Wood scored to put Australia back in the lead. Haudenosaunee’s Brendan Bomberry and Lyle Thompson made the most of the 44 seconds left in the first quarter with a buzzer beater goal to tie the game at 2-2. To start the second quarter, Sean Aaron made a big save against Austin Staats, who was the Men’s Championship statistical leader in points and goals. Connor McDonough was able to score one more goal for Australia before Haudenosaunee went on a four-goal run, ending the first half 6-3.
Australia came into the second half determined to stay in the game. Although Haudenosaunee scored early in the third quarter off an extra-man opportunity, the Australian defense was able to hold them to a single goal. On the offensive end, Australia’s Matt wood and Brayden Panting were able to cut the goal deficit to two by the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Haudenosaunee was fired up and came alive. Their defense held Australia to a single goal while their offense, led by Austin Staats and Lyle Thompson, scored four goals. With their 11-6 win, Haudenosaunee claimed the bronze medal for the third consecutive Men’s Championship, each time defeating Australia.
The Australian Sharks finished the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship in fourth place. Mitchell Baker, Sean Aaron, Tim Graham, Jeff Melsopp, Chris Moffat, Lachlan Russell, Lucas Parsons-Quintiao, Cal Gibson, and Campbell Mackinnon represented Victoria and Australia with skillful all-star performances on the field. Congratulations to Victoria’s own Sean Aaron on being one of the top ten statistical leaders in save percentage for the men’s championship.