Iroquois Nationals Win Bronze, Three Players Named to 2012 World Lacrosse Team
TURKU, Finland – The Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team entered the arena singing a traditional Haudenosaunee stomp dance song for their second match against England on July 21, confident that their superior sticks skills would win them the bronze medal.
Playing in a constant drizzle to a packed house, the Iroquois quickly established a solid lead, and never let up the pressure, holding England to only one goal for the entire game. The final score was 18-1.
Coming back from a disappointing 12-7 loss to Team USA two days before, the Iroquois team was hungry for victory and the chance to dominate with their unique style of lacrosse.
Powerhouse goalie Warren Hill, widely considered to be one of the best in the world for his age group, deflected nearly all England’s attempts to score.
Hill was named Outstanding Goal Tender for the 2012 World Games for consistent defense throughout the tournament and
Also selected for the World Team were Lyle Thompson, Outstanding Midfielder, and Seth Oakes, Outstanding Attack.
At the awards ceremony, fans cheered on the Iroquois Nationals as they accepted the bronze medal. Team USA beat Canada for the gold in the final match.
Throughout the tournament, the Iroquois had a large following, including other team members, for their singular presence and legacy as originators of the game.
At every game, Finnish and European fans painted their faces purple, gold and white, waved Haudenosaunee flags, and bought out all the merchandise available at the team’s booth.
Iroquois Assistant Coach Jason Johnson said he was especially proud that three players were selected to the 2012 World Team, an honor for the elite group of 25 players chosen from a field of only 86 eligible Native lacrosse players nationwide.
“They stand well above their peers and did everything that was asked of them. I’ve coached some of these guys since they were 10 years old and it’s great to see them develop into world-class players,” he said. “We’re very proud of these players and this team.”
The team had members from each of the nations that comprise the Iroquois Confederacy: Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, Tuscarora and Cayuga, and also had a Cherokee member.
Assistant Coach Marty Ward, the only Native American head lacrosse coach at a major university, Florida Southern, said the team played well, relaxing in the second period to enjoy a fast, tight game.
“They were full of confidence and demonstrated their stick skills today, playing the game with heart and pride.”
Head Coach Freeman “Boss”Bucktooth, said he was pleased by how the team played in the final match.
“Once they got into the game, they cut loose, picked up all the ground balls and started scoring,” he said. “We have a lot of talent in these boys, and I think we’re going to see many of them play on the Iroquois Nationals men’s team at the 2014 games in Denver.”
As the team boarded a bus bound for the Helsinki airport at 2:30 am on the last night of the tournament, they were greeted at the hotel entrance by fans and other team members with cheers, hugs and final farwells.
Samuli Harala, a Finnish lacrosse player and organizer of the 2012 World Games, said it was critical to the sport and competition that the Iroquois Nationals were there to play and win.
“I’ve played on several championship teams and I can tell you that no one plays lacrosse like the Iroquois Nationals. Their defeat of the USA was the best game of the tournament, hands down, and we’re all so honored they were here.”
The Nationals traveled on Haudenosaunee passports and were issued visas by Finland with no problem.
For more about the team or to order team merchandise, go to: www.iroquoisnationals.org