USA rallies past Iroquois, head to gold matchup
Redemption was on the mind for Team USA.
Just two days removed from dropping its first-ever international game to the Iroquois Nationals in the pool play finale, the USA U-19 lacrosse team was hoping that history wouldn't repeat itself.
Steven Pontrello (St. Augustine Prep '12 - NJ) erupted for five goals on the night as the Americans overcame an early 3-0 deficit to defeat the Iroquois Nationals, 12-7 in the semifinals of the FIL World Lacrosse Championships in Turku, Finland.
Chaminade alum (Class of '11) Matt Kavanagh added to his team-leading point total with two goals and two assists, while Joey Leonard (Hicksville '11) scored a goal and an assist.
With Connetquot product Zach Oliveri getting the nod in net, things didn't look good for Team USA from the onset as the Iroquois Nationals jumped out to a 3-0 lead early. It would take 13:21 into the first quarter for USA to get on the board as Leonard found the back of the net off an assist from Kavanagh.
The former Flyer pulled USA within one goal just two minutes later, followed by the equalizer by Ryan Tucker (Gilman '11 - Maryland) to put the score at 3-3 before the end of the first quarter.
Pontrello gave USA its first lead of the game just 1:13 into the second quarter to give USA a 4-3 lead. However both teams continued to trade goals into the halftime break leaving things even at 5-5.
It would be the last time USA would not have the lead.
Pontrello erupted out of the gates, scoring three goals in 4:03 - the last one coming off an assist from Chaminade alum Sean Mahon to give USA an 8-5 lead and putting things well out of reach from the get-go.
With USA holding a 10-7 lead to start the fourth quarter, Kavanagh would pot his second of the game off a pass form Leonard. Pontrello quickly followed up with his fifth of the contest on an EMO to finish off the scoring for Team USA.
Kyle Turri (West Islip '11) earned the win after replacing Oliveri at the half, and only gave up two goals in the final 40 minutes.
Team USA heads to the gold medal matchup on Saturday where it will meet Team Canada, which is undefeated throughout the tournament and hold an 11-9 overtime victory over the Americans in pool play. Faceoff time is scheduled for 9:00 am EST.