Team England start their 2012 FIL U19 World Championship campaign with a testing opener against The Iroquois Nationals. The Iroquois roster saw a number of players including Lyle Thompson and Randy Staats returning from their 2008 bronze medal winning team and took full advantage of that experience in the opening quarter, which saw them storm to a 11-0 lead. England did moments when they looked dangerous on offence with Danny Condron and Dane Carney both hitting pipes in the opening quater.
The Iroquois displayed some excellent play at the Face-X and some exceptionally slick passing and finishing in offence. England’s first goal came from Danny Condron with a righty low-to-low bounce shot past Warren Hill early on in the second quarter however the Iroquois finished the half leading 16-1.
England came out of the half-time break looking ready to prove their worth. Goalie Mike Connor made an instant impact on the game with an impressive 6 saves (8 from 17 in the game) to limit Iroquois to only three goals in the third period. England as a whole looked to have built on this and the first half nerves seeming to subside with the lads looking far more relaxed on both ends of the field. This resulted in England controlling some some good possession and testing the Iroquois goalie on a number of occasions, but they could not find a way past Warren Hill.
The fourth quarter and again England looked as if they were improving all the time, taking some decent shots on the Iroquois goal and showing allot of fight when contesting for loose balls. The hard work payed off, and England were rewarded with a goal late in the fourth thanks to an outside rip from Tom Bracegirdle. Iroquois however proved more than a match for the young England side who ran out eventual winners 24-2.
Iroquois on the whole look like genuine gold medal game contenders. Possessing their trademark slick passing, finishing and awareness but also having allot of depth in other areas especially in defence and winning ball from the middle. With a day off tomorrow they will be coming out with fresh legs when they play Canada on Sunday, which may turn out to one of the more interesting match-ups of the tournament.
England will be looking to put the defeat behind them and come out strong against Australia tomorrow at 11.00GMT.