Uganda Earns First Win in Dramatic Fashion
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The celebration is probably still ongoing.
It sure was an hour after the game, as the Ugandan lacrosse team, the first-ever Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship club from the African continent, walked about the vendor village at Dick's Sporting Goods Park as celebrities in the wake of a 10-9 win over the Republic of Korea on Monday afternoon.
|Team captain Patrick Oriana scored his third and final goal with 36 seconds left to give Uganda a 10-9 win over the Republic of Korea. (Scott McCall)|
John Grant Jr. asked to take a picture with them. They thanked a crowd gathered around them and America in general for the hospitality. They signed autographs and posed for camera photos. "Amazing," was the word thrown around by the support staff that helped get the players here from their war-torn native country.
Not only did they win, but they did it in storybook style. Uganda scored the final six goals after trailing 9-4 with 6:17 left, and scored twice in the final 44 seconds.
Faisal Nsubuga tied the game at nine and Patrick Oriana, the team captain, won the ensuing faceoff and tossed in the winning goal with 36 seconds to go. It was his third goal of the game, all of which came in the fourth quarter.
"I just remember the net shaking," Oriana said. "Before today, the scoreboard has been so ugly, but you know you had to win a game or two. It feels so great."
It was a comeback effort – twice. Earlier, Uganda trailed 5-0 midway through the second quarter. They pulled to within 5-4 early in the second half.
World Cup-esque celebrations ensued after each goal, racheting up in intensity down the stretch, head coach Andrew Boston said. He tried to calm the sideline down.
"I've been with these guys for about a year and a half in Uganda, and I've been telling them we're not just going to play, we're going to win," Boston said. "It wasn't that I didn't think we were going to win in this tournament. We had tough opening games. I wasn't sure it was going to come today. I have no words right now."
Uganda is one of seven first-time world championship participants to earn thier first ever wins, joining Turkey, Israel, Russia, Thailand, China and Belgium in Denver.
"When they scored the first and tied it up you just kind of had that feeling that it was to come," Boston said. "We had been winning the faceoffs. It was just beautiful. When [Patrick] pulled back I knew it was going in. It's a thing of fate. I'm not the most religious man but sometimes you have to believe. It was meant to be for these guys. They deserve it. I know where these guys come from. I've been with them for a while. If anybody in this tournament deserves it, it's these guys."
Indeed, a fan nearby the celebration scene remarked that he felt he just witnessed a world championship win. It would be hard to argue otherwise.
"I can only imagine the smiles on those guys' faces right now," said Team USA attackman Rob Pannell, who spent time in Uganda in 2012 working with the Fields of Growth organization that powered Uganda's participation in the world championships. " Them being over here in the first place is amazing, but for them to be down five goals and get a win is unbelievable for them. When I was there they were in the field every day and all they wanted to do is play lacrosse. It's great for the sport and certainly great for them in their first trip here."
Uganda beat the Republic of Korea 10-9 to earn its first win in FIL World Championship play. Check out the video highlights.
(James Verderamo/Lacrosse Television)
comments powered by Disqus