Lacrosse battlers all fired up
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.
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.