(PRAGUE, CZ) The U.S. defeated Australia, 8-7, in the gold medal game of the 2009 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Women’s World Cup.
Tied 3-3 at halftime, Team USA came out swinging in the second half with five unanswered goals before staving off a furious Australian rally late.
U.S. goalie Devon Wills (Denver, Colo./Dartmouth ’06) made seven saves and had three ground balls to earn Player of the Match honors.
“It’s amazing. I’ve never felt like this. The adrenaline is just pumping. I could play another game right now.”
—Devon Wills, Player of the Match
Caroline Cryer (Centennial, Colo./Duke ’09) led the way with three goals, as Team USA claimed its sixth World Cup title and fourth over Australia. The international rivals have met in the championship games six times since the World Cup’s 1982 inception.
“The best part of this team is that they know for a fact — not believe, know for a fact — that they are the best team in the world,” said U.S. head coach Sue Heether.
Australia struck first when Melissa Williams (2g) caught a feed from Jen Adams (1g, 2a) at the 25:49 mark. The first half went back and forth between the two teams, with three ties and two lead changes, ending with a 3-3 tie at the break.
The U.S. struggled to adjust to a new ride scheme, which Heether and her staff scrapped at halftime.
“We were tight today,” Heether said. “This team is very young and nerves are the one thing that could hurt us at the end.”
Team USA stormed in front with a 5-0 run to open the second half, including two tallies by Cryer. Australia gained momentum, however, with 4:53 remaining, when Wills received a yellow card for a push on Australian attacker Marlee Paton.
“It was dumb of me, especially since I hardly ever come out to play the attacker,” said Wills. “I kind of couldn’t watch for a little until they told me I could go back in.”
Williams scored on an open net on a free position to narrow the gap to 8-5.
U.S. backup goalie Meghan Huether (Lutherville, Md./Duke ’06) entered the game for Wills, as she served her three-minute penalty. Australia rallied with two more goals, with Heather Williams’ second goal of the game bringing the Australians within one with 1:59 remaining.
Wills returned to make a crucial save, and the U.S maintained possession over the last minute to preserve the win.
“We had them against the ropes, and we came up short. But that’s sport,” said Australian head coach Sue Sofarnos. “Australians pride themselves on never giving up. We’re proud of our spirit.”
“It’s a certain belief that Australians have in themselves that we’re not down until the end. Maybe the U.S. is the same way,” said Australian team captain Stacey Morlang.
After a grueling two weeks of World Cup play, U.S. won the gold, Australia the silver and Canada the bronze.
“It’s amazing. I’ve never felt like this,” Wills said. “The adrenaline is just pumping. I could play another game right now.”
FIL 2009 World Cup Final
[table id=23 /]
The FIL World Cup takes place every four years. In 2005, when the championships were held in Annapolis, Md., Australia took home the gold, leaving the U.S. with the silver. Team USA is now a six-time World Cup champion, with gold medal victories in 1982, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2009.