South Korea next stop for Hong Kong’s women on road to Lacrosse World Cup

Travis Taylor’s side continue their preparations for next month’s tournament in England at the regional event in South Korea, with Scott Browning’s men also in action on the island of Jeju, starting on Sunday

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 June, 2017, 11:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 12:29pm

Hong Kong will focus on individual development over team strategy at the Asia-Pacific Lacrosse Championship in South Korea, as Travis Taylor’s side continue their preparations for next month’s Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.

Taylor’s charges face leading sides Japan and Australia as well as hosts South Korea, New Zealand and a combined Asia-Pacific United side in the group stage over five days on the island of Jeju, starting with Sunday’s opener against the Kiwis.

Hong Kong will more than likely then play in Friday’s minor placing play-offs, which take place a day before Saturday’s final.

Aside from the Asia-Pacific United side, made up of players from both Japan and South Korea, world number 18 Hong Kong are the lowest-ranked side in the six-team tournament.

The threat of world number three and ninth-ranked Japan is lessened as they send under-23 sides to the tournament, although they are still set to be the main title contenders ahead of 11th-ranked New Zealand and world number 15 South Korea.

“The game plan for this is much more of an individual level over a team strategy as there is less than a month to the World Cup. We will look to find our strengths and weaknesses instead of giving away too much of our team strategy, and I am sure they will be doing the same thing,” said Canadian Taylor, who has been in the position for two-and-a-half years.

“We will look to play our own game and test strengths and weaknesses of the other teams, and also see where our strengths and weaknesses are, and then have a two week period to improve of any of those weaknesses before the World Cup.”

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Hong Kong begin their campaign against New Zealand on Sunday ahead of a key game against the hosts on Monday, having been draw in the same pool as South Korea for July’s World Cup in England.

Having finished 18th out of 19 teams at the 2013 World Cup, Hong Kong have also been draw in a group containing indigenous Canadian nation Haudenosaunee, Italy and Switzerland.

“It is a little bit strange that we have a tournament right before our World Cup that means so much and against some of our main rivals such as Korea, so I think all the teams will be a little bit cautious to show everything they are going to be doing at the World Cup in this tournament,” added Taylor, who has named around two-thirds of his World Cup squad for the tournament, with the remainder made up of youngsters being handed the chance to compete at international level for the first time.

“But at the same time that is countered by the fact we all want to do well in Asia and to use the tournament to gain ground on the other countries.”

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Hong Kong’s men are also in action in South Korea, with Scott Browning’s team also facing Japan and Australia as well as South Korea, Taiwan and China.

Both Hong Kong sides won April’s Hong Kong Lacrosse Open on home soil with 100 per cent records, although the Asia-Pacific Lacrosse Championship represents a signifiant step up in standard.

Browning’s team have to wait until 2018 for their next World Lacrosse Championship, which will be held in Israel, having finished 21st out of the 38 teams in Denver in 2014.

“This is the next test after the Hong Kong Open to see how we are progressing. We started a two-year programme to prepare for the Worlds and this is the big milestone event in year one and the regional championship are always important,” said Canadian Browning, who has a full-strength side at his disposal ahead of Sunday’s opener against China. “It is part of a long-term plan, but also for regional pride.

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“Japan and Australia are the strongest teams, and the rest of us are fighting at the next level in terms of where we fit, while also looking to compete with Japan and Australia.

“We have been progressing well and playing well amongst ourselves in local scrimmages and we are looking forward to competing against the other teams in the region.”