Lacrosse bat­tlers all fired up

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

A squad of fear­less lacrosse play­ers is hop­ing to prove it is no longer play­ing catch-up with the rest of the world at this year’s FIL Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in Canada.

The NZBlax are cur­rently ranked 12th in the world and af­ter years of in­tense train­ing the team is look­ing to take out eighth place at this year’s com­pe­ti­tion which gets un­der way on July 10.

Team cap­tain Sian Hal­li­well says they are well placed to win a top eight spot thanks to a world-class pro­gramme and a big­ger squad lead­ing into the fi­nal tri­als.

In a tough pool the national women’s side face the top fiver­anked Ir­ish squad and eighthranked side Scot­land.

Lacrosse has been dubbed as the fastest game on two feet and th­ese New Zealand ath­letes have been putting in the hard yards to show they can keep up.

The team has com­pleted two tours across the ditch in the last year for the Down Un­der Cup and South­ern Cross tour­na­ments and played their first three-day se­ries against world No 2 Aus­tralia.

Royal Oak res­i­dent Hal­li­well says while the game’s pow­er­house na­tions, Aus­tralia, the United States and Eng­land are in a league of their own, this squad has what it takes to make an im­pact.

‘‘We’re kind of knock­ing on the door of those coun­tries.

‘‘Our re­ally high goal is fifth but re­al­is­ti­cally eighth place is where we’re aim­ing and I re­ally do think that’s achiev­able. We’ve def­i­nitely got the squad to get there.’’

With its pop­u­lar­ity grow­ing through­out New Zealand sec­ondary schools the side has a healthy num­ber of younger play­ers com­ing through from the un­der-19 squad.

Goal­keeper Erin Jag­ger says the team has a good bal­ance of fresh tal­ent and ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers.

‘‘It means we don’t have to start back at square one if this is the last world cup for some play­ers.’’

Hal­li­well cred­its the team’s coach Kari Jones, a fel­low for­mer Bri­tish in­ter­na­tional player, for the team’s growth over the past two years.

Jones and the rest of the squad will be putting bud­ding lacrosse play­ers through their paces at the team’s Lacrosse Acad­emy at Mt Roskill’s Me­mo­rial Park on May 12.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Catch­ing up: NZ Women’s Lacrosse Team play­ers Mary-Carol ‘‘MC’’ Hold­away, Erin Jag­ger and Sian Hal­li­well say the squad is hot on the heels of the top teams go­ing into the FIL Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.

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