World Lacrosse Championship: Hong Kong end campaign on winning note as US and Canada tussle for title
Hong Kong bounce back from disappointing Germany defeat by beating Hungary to head home on a high
Hong Kong capped a successful 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championship with a 15-5 humbling of Hungary in Netanya, Israel on Saturday, but will fly home dwelling over missed opportunities to break into the world’s top 20.
“Unfortunately the ball didn’t bounce our way [at times] and while we felt we left a few Ws on the table, we couldn’t be happier with our pool win and the improvement we’ve shown,” said attacker Stephen O’Brien, who scored three goals in Hong Kong’s final ranked play match of the tournament.
“While we didn’t land in the top 20 like we wanted, the effort and passion we exhibited was world class … my proudest moment was the way we came back from behind against New Zealand despite the loss.”
Hong Kong had swept Luxembourg, Poland and Uganda in the Olive Pool group before falling to ninth-ranked Germany in the championship bracket.
Narrow losses to New Zealand 11-9 and Czech Republic 9-8 in the proceeding ranked play were much lamented by coach Scott Browning, who hopes the experience of playing in tight games will help their confidence against future high-level oppositions.
“We’re really happy with how we competed but are we happy with the outcome? No,” said Browning, adding that his team has made huge strides in fitness, strength and lacrosse IQ since their last worlds campaign four years ago.
“We’re disappointed we lost a couple of close matches in the middle of the week and that pushed us down the ladder quite a bit. We didn’t quite get the results I thought we deserved.
“The biggest thing we need to do is play higher-level competitive games on a more frequent basis, and in the games we lost by one to two goals, that comes down to handling pressure and understanding the flow of a tight game,” he added.
The latest ranked play win against Hungary – along with a 16-5 whitewash against familiar foes Poland – put Hong Kong right on the fringe of that prized top-20 target. Unfortunately it was not to be, but Browning is certain his team will grow, just like the world lacrosse scene.
“To make the next step further into the division you need experience. We’re not quite at that 12 to 20 range yet – that’s where we would have loved to be but we need more experience playing at that level,” he said.
“The overall calibre of the tournament is getting better and better – we saw a lot of new nations join – and this is all positive growth for the sport internationally.”
The world’s number one lacrosse team will be determined in the final between the US and Canada at Netanya Stadium on Saturday.