Rivals Scotland, England Advance; Clinch Blue Division Spots
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Cue up the "Braveheart" DVDs.
Scotland and England will meet Saturday in the fifth-place game of the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship after pulling out overtime wins in consolation tilts Thursday afternoon on the outer fields Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
The Scots beat Japan and England outlasted Israel by identical 10-9 scores that went final about 30 minutes apart. To the winners, by guaranteeing a top-six finish here, also went a berth in the 2018 FIL World Championship Blue Division, the tournament's top group. It's a first time feat for Scotland. England's game was also an especially tense one, considering they will host the 2018 games in Manchester on home soil.
Japan and Israel will play for seventh-place at 2:30 p.m. Friday.
"We wanted to stay in the Blue Division. We needed to be there," England goalie Ben McAllister said. "We never doubted. Everyone pulled together. It was unbelievable."
Nick Watson scored the winner in the first four-minute overtime period for England, and Jimmy McBride notched the winner for the Scots with 51.2 left in the second four-minute OT of that game. Resham Panesar, a practicing doctor in Manchester who was born in Scotland, came up with a key ground ball off the ensuing faceoff.
Say the word "England" to one of the Scottish players and you'll be asked to give them a dollar for your mistake, as faceoff man Stefan Wyroslawski said. "Auld Enemy," is the preferred term in reference to the deep-rooted history of the countries in the British Isles. Asked before the England-Israel result about a potential matchup, he said, "I'd be bitterly disappointed for our dear neighbors," if they lost. "I'm going to buy them a whiskey."
Alas, they won.
Scotland has never finished better than seventh in four world championship appearances so they have already clinched their best finish. England has finished fifth the last two tournaments in 2006 and 2010.
For Scotland, it's been an emotional run inspired by the memory of Bobby Hetherington, who died in April 2013 while serving with the Royal Regiment of Scotland of the British Army in Afghanistan. He was team captain in 2010 and was generally regarded as the team's best player, as a defenseman.
"For those of us who knew Bobby, he was more than just a teammate, he was a brother," said Panesar, who works in geriatric and acute medicine and missed the 2010 world championships while pursuing that career. "I've known him since 2007. Even the guys who don't know him, his legacy is so strong amongst everyone coming through the team. We play for him as much as we play for each other. He was an unbelievable teammate and brother. That's why I played for Scotland. He's my inspiration every day."
Before downing Japan, the Scottish had the Iroquois on the ropes in the quarterfinals of the championship bracket Wednesday, falling to the Lyle Thompson-less Nationals 10-8.
There's not much more needed to get up for their last matchup of this tournament, is there?
"They have the heart of a true Scotsman," coach John Kenney said. "These guys have been dedicated to his memory and sacrifice and leadership and heroism. They did that on the field today."
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