Jamaica recorded the first seeded upset of the playoffs on day seven of the World Lacrosse Men’s Championship over Italy, 7-6.
Both teams were undefeated pool winners, but Jamaica was seeded 10th, while Italy was seventh with the second-ranked offense in the field entering the contest.
“First off, Italy is a great team,” said goalkeeper Nate McPeak. “They have a great bunch of players, great goalie, great defense. It was a really hard-fought victory. It means a lot that we were able to get a good win. We really eked it out there, but it was a great team performance.
“Just believing in each other helps us out, continued McPeak. “There’s a lot of Jamaican heritage out there – we’re one people and we try to exemplify that and do our best.”
Jamaica its first appearance in the quarterfinals in the Men’s Championship after finishing 13th in 2018.
“It’s an unreal moment,” said Khairi Sears, who led the attack with three goals. “It’s a blessing and privilege to make history for the kids back home. For every player that looks like us, like me, you get emotional thinking about it. We’re not done yet but it feels amazing.”
“Our passion and our pride are big,” said Stone Evans, Jamaica attacker. “Knowing the kids on the island are watching, something like this hasn’t happened in Jamaican history. Just knowing that we can do something great really drives us.”
Jamaica opened fast with a two goal lead, and held Italy off from there.
Italy cut the lead to 4-3 halfway through the third quarter, but Jamaica responded with a timely three goal run to take a 7-3 lead with two goals from Marcus Minichello.
Italy stormed back with three goals to cut the lead to one with under four minutes to play, but Jamaica’s made enough plays to hold on for the win.
“We’re playing for something bigger than ourselves, the name on the front of the jersey,” said Sears. “We just refused to give up. It wasn’t going our way and that didn’t stop us. It’s an indescribable feeling.”
Sears had three goals for Jamaica and McPeak made six saves on 12 shots.
Jamaica will face the No. 2 seed Canada in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at USD Torero Stadium, set for 4 p.m.
“We’re feeling absolutely amazing,” said Evans. “The guys on this team know what the goal is and we didn’t come so far just to get here.”