Force Split In Openers Of International Freindships Games
Jun. 23, 2012
Handa, Japan - West Coast Force teams opened up with a twin bill at Handa Athletic Stadium in the International Friendship Games hosted by the Japan Lacrosse Association. The day started with an early departure, at 6am, from home-stay accommodations in and around Nagoya for the bus ride out to the city of Handa. It ended with a fantastic dinner and party the JLA threw for the players from the four teams involved in the two games. Between the early wak-up call and the late night party were the choreographed opening ceremonies, the Force women's game and the Force men's game. It was a 16 hour day for everyone but it was great fun.
After the 10:00am opening ceremonies and many group photo opportunities the Force women used a short warm-up to get ready for the 11:00 game versus the Tokai Under-22 team. Tokai is the general region around Nagoya. The Force struck first to go up 1-0 and eventually led 5-3 with a few minutes to go until the end of the first half but the Tokai team scored three straight to lead 6-5 at halftime. In the second half Tokai steadily outscored the tiring Force at a 2 for Tokai and 1 for the Force ratio for the first 15 minutes of the second half to lead 12-8. Then Tokai put it away with 5-2 burst over the final 10 minutes to finish with a 17-10 win. Within the team of 12 American women and 5 guest Japanese players nobody had previously played together, not even in pairs, so it was a good learning experience to help with game playing the rest of the tour.
The second game featured the West Coast Force men's team playing their Tokai Under-22 opponent. The Force are combined with USA Starz players for these games with 12 Force players and 7 Starz players wearing USA Starz uniforms. With groups of 4 to 5 players from the same teams in the states on this team the Force men clicked together more consistently and quite well in the fourth quarter. Two goals were taken away for apparent crease violations in the first half but despite that the Force were up 5-2 at intermission. Strong goalie play made a big difference early. The third period was a little tight at 2 goals apiece but the fourth quarter was was all Force as they shut the lid on any Tokai chance by outscoring them 8-2 in the final 20 minute period. International rules are being used in the Games so the contest was four 20 minute long quarters.
Next up for the Force are some mini games on Sunday that allow more Japanese teams a chance to play the Americans. The Force men will take on Tokai Under-20, Gifu University and Chubu University at Tsurumai Field in Nagoya. The Force women will play Tokai Under-20 and Nagoya University at Shonai Field in Nagoya.
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