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Women's U20

England’s unity powers a hungry group ahead of women’s U20 championship 

England has consistently finished toward the top of World Lacrosse championship standings with an especially strong women’s program that claimed bronze medals twice in 2022.  

The senior women’s team finished in third at the women’s championship and a week later, did so again in sixes competition at The World Games. The strong results are the culmination of a storied history in lacrosse and a robust national program at England Lacrosse that identifies and develops talent from across the country.  

This year’s women’s U20 championship in Hong Kong is another test for the program as the rest of the countries competing are hungrier than ever to push into the top tier. The England Women’s U20 National Team is a cornerstone of the whole organization that supports the senior team’s talent pool while also providing opportunity for the best young players in the country to shine on an international stage. And in the future, some of these players could be part of the team for Great Britain at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. 

Of course, England wants to earn a medal – it’s looking for its fourth in the eighth edition of the event – but the focus is on the process for an organization trying to improve the unity with every edition of its teams. 

“We want to focus on the controllables,” said head coach Vic Alexander. “It can be a cliché phrase, but our sport has grown so much and there’s going to be so many different challenges from more teams this edition and unknown styles of play. We’re trying to build on our process and perform based on our values.” 

That concept has driven the entire team’s existence, which has been building for this championship for years. The pool was first formed in early 2023 with almost 100 players that had played against each other frequently in England’s youth system. 

That group trained for the European Women’s U20 Championship in July in the Czech Republic, and England took home the gold medal. The pool was then slowly cut to 30 players by January 2024 and the team went on a tour of the United States to play against collegiate teams in Florida.  

England then featured its U20 squad in the Home Internationals competition in the spring against Scotland, Wales and Germany, and when the team suits up for the first game in Hong Kong, it will be one of the most seasoned in the field. 

“They have very much come together as a squad with the bigger picture in mind,” said Alexander. “They have a good sense of what’s important now, but also that the future is important, if not more important. They’re always so unselfish and trying to make each other look good.” 

“Their intensity is so good as a group, they’re athletic and strong, and I love their tenacity and willingness to put themselves out of their comfort zone.” 

Ana Green, one of the standout players on the squad who was named to the All-Tournament team at the championship in Prague noted, like her coach, that the group’s strength is in its togetherness and focus. 

“As much as it’s intense, everybody wants to see each other succeed, and our attitude is definitely about working for each other and being accountable,” said Green. “The more we’ve gotten to know each other, the more we’ve built as a team and had each other’s back. There’s been so much bonding on the pitch and unity off the pitch.” 

via England Lacrosse

Both Green and Alexander singled out the tours as immense learning opportunities that have been beneficial for growth and development. 

“We have so much strength in numbers, and it’s been great to push ourselves to the limit against tough competition and in the heat,” said Green.  

“I was so impressed with our team’s growth playing against teams in Florida,” said Alexander. “Instead of getting knocked down, their mentality was always to get up again and they were so driven because they had such respect for their opponents. The response was to be better and envision what the team could look like.” 

Alexander and her staff are very intentional about growth in all facets of player development, especially mentally and in team spirit. This has been key on a team with an age range from 15 to almost 20 that hails from many different regions of England and has players who often compete against each other in club competitions. 

Green, like all of her teammates, is evidence of England’s abilities to unite aspiring national talent with well-established pathways. She started playing at 9 at her local lacrosse club and developed her game to play at the university level. Along the way, she tried out for her regional academy and then then made the national academy on her second try. From there, she was in the player pool for U20 squad that competed at the European junior championship, and along the way she became familiar with many coaches, staff and teammates. 

“It’s great how sequential the pathway is and how you can work yourself up,” said Green. “And coaches are always integrated at every level. Our current staff is brilliant and is open to different conversations while also instilling our core principles in us and pushing us to be our best.” 

Teams always come together during world championships, but this England team, which has been honing its chemistry over years, will have another level of experience to rely on. Alexander, who coached the Italy senior women’s team for five years and has previous experience with Wales Lacrosse and the England development squad, believes this team is uniquely suited to grow and blossom during its time in Hong Kong. 

“This team’s strengths is in its camaraderie, its humor, and most of all, its ability to switch focus on and understand the reasons why we’re all competing,” said Alexander. “You can be successful at a world championship, but we’re trying to have them see that success is how they represent the badge of England when they are there.” 

Green and her teammates are naturally excited about that special opportunity to represent their country on the international stage. 

“It will be cool step onto the pitch against players you’ve seen,” said Green. “You can try to see players on social media but until you’re there and ready to go, it’s different. The level and quality of lacrosse that will be on show will be phenomenal.” 

Green’s attitude reflects the rumbling global growth of lacrosse that has seen its quality at junior-level world championships skyrocket as more players have more access to the game. 

“Having watched videos on YouTube of the last junior championship in Peterborough, knowing that we’ll be in their position soon – that will be a special moment and something I’ll treasure in my lacrosse career.” said Green. “It doesn’t feel real, but the excitement of being able to rise to the challenge of the best teams in the world is a highlight.” 

The grounded nature of the squad shouldn’t cloud that the team still has lofty goals for a podium finish and eventually for as many players as possible to contribute to the senior team. The process-oriented current behind England Lacrosse and its U20 women’s team is its calling card and sets the stage for another rugged campaign in Hong Kong. 

via England Lacrosse

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