The team representing the Haudenosaunee Nation at the world girls' under-19 field lacrosse tournament is expected to face some rather stiff opposition. The club is one of 12 that will participate at the world tournament, which runs Aug. 3-13 in Hannover, Germany.
This marks just the second time the Haudenosaunee Nation will compete at this world tournament. It finished sixth at the 2007 championships, which were held in Peterborough, Ontario.
"We have a really young team going," said Kathy Smith, the chairperson of the Haudenosaunee Nation women's lacrosse board.
Because of its placing at the '07 tournament, the Haudensosaunee Nation side will be placed in this year's elite division along with the other Top 5 finishers from the previous world event. It will square off against the United States, Canada, Australia, England and Japan.
"All the top teams are going to be hard to beat," Smith said. "It may very well happen we don't win a game in our pool."
Smith added those in the program are primarily treating this year's event as a learning experience.
"There's definitely lots to learn, not only for the players but for us in the program as well," she said. "We know it's a developmental process."
While male Aboriginal lacrosse teams have their share of success at world tournaments, Smith said girls' field lacrosse was only introduced to various First Nations in recent years. Since Native officials from the Haudenosaunee Nation program are still on a huge learning curve themselves, Smith said the team hired a non-Native to coach the squad at the world tournament. Handling the coaching duties is Elizabeth Ford, who is the also the coach for Ohio's College of Wooster.
The Haudenosaunee Nation's 18-player roster includes athletes from both the United States and Canada. Ten of the team's players are from the state of New York. There's also six players from Ontario and two from British Columbia, Canada's most western province.
"We've had our share of growing pains with this team," Smith added. "It's always an obstacle not just for our team but for all teams when you're trying to get them together. For us it's even more complicated trying to get everybody together as we have players from two countries."
The Haudenosaunee Nation's first match at the world tournament is scheduled for Aug. 4 versus Canada.