Though they played like champions, the Iroquois Nationals narrowly lost to Team Canada at the Onondaga War Memorial in Syracuse on Sunday with a final score of 11 to 9. For most of the game, the Nationals held a several goal lead but lost their advantage in the fourth quarter after losing a goal to a penalty. Two more unanswered goals were then scored by Team Canada.
"Obviously we are a bit disappointed," said Iroquois Nationals head coach Rick Kilgour to ICTMN after the game. "We were up 8-4 at one point and they beat us 11-9. They outscored us down the stretch. We had a flat five minutes and Canada will make you pay for that every time."
"The good thing is that we made our own mistakes and it wasn't like we played our best game in the world and they still beat us," said Kilgour. "We made some mental errors and they made us pay. The great thing is that all of the errors we made are fixable and that is what we are going to work on for the next couple of days," he said.
Overall, the game was hard fought by both the Iroquois Nationals and Team Canada. For the first three quarters the Iroquois Nationals led the charge with a high point lead of four goals at 8-4. Unfortunately for the Iroquois Nationals and their fans, they did not hold onto the lead. When the Iroquois Nationals scored a potential 10th goal in the fourth quarter, the referees called a penalty and the goal was retracted.
Kilgour said that even though the majority of fans did not agree with the goal retraction penalty, the referees made the right call.
"[It affected us] a little bit," said Kilgour. "But we had six guys on the field, so they made the right call. Yes, he called it pretty late and you're not allowed to do that really, but if we would had won it on that goal, it would have been a tainted victory anyhow. He made the right call in the end, so I can't complain. Did I like it? No."
During an after game conference call, the Canadian team commended the Iroquois Nationals on a hard fought game and said they did not take the team's talent for granted.
After Canada shared their thoughts about their win, the Iroquois Nationals then spoke at the press conference. Miles Thompson told a room of reporters, "We weren't sticking to our game plan. We weren't taking smart shots and we came up two shots short."
Brett Bucktooth remarked on what it was like to be playing in an arena filled with Native people, many of which are part of the Iroquois Confederacy.
The Iroquois Nationals certainly don't have a shortage of fans Photos: Vincent Schilling
"We both grew up on the Onondaga Nation and we know the support we have is from around the world, but this is a special opportunity when you get to play in your own backyard. You have the elders walking up to you and wishing you good luck, friends have your back and even the kids are coming to your practices, coming up to our shooter rounds and just supporting us. It's good to have this extra motivation."
After the press conference, Bucktooth told ICTMN, "I can't wait to get out there and play the next game."
Ansley Jemison (Seneca), Executive Director of the Iroquois Nationals, told ICTMN, that the team still is on a strong trajectory toward a WILC 2015 Gold medal. "This game against Team Canada just gets a loss out of the way and it just makes us hungry. We've got the match up interms of athleticism, as we do with Team USA. I don't want to say we hustled any less, but maybe we lifted our foot up off the gas a little bit. This Canada win is elusive, but like I said it just keeps us hungry. We have a big week and the key at this point is to keep everyone healthy and we really want to rotate in some of our young guys to get them some great experience."
After tonight's game the Iroquois Nationals have a day off for practice and are scheduled to compete against Team England on Tuesday. The fight for the bronze, silver and gold medals will take place next Sunday.
For a full list of game schedules and events, visit www.WILC2015.com