Canada's Box Background has Bred Creativity, Success Heading into World Cup


Canadian attacker Danita Stroup brought her team's creative spirit to the forefront when her behind-the-back goal feed helped beat Team USA in 2015. She'll try to do the same in the 2017 FIL World Cup.

Two years ago, the Canadian under-19 women’s lacrosse team pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the sport’s history when it defeated the United States to win its first women’s world championship at any level.

An enduring image from that game — Danita Stroup’s behind-the-back feed setting up the go-ahead goal — demonstrated a certain flair that the Canadian senior team also has embraced as it rides the momentum of that win into the upcoming FIL Women’s World Cup in Guildford, England.

“If you look at our U19 team, they played with a lot of creativity,” said Scott Teeter, who made the transition from U19 coach to senior team coach for the World Cup. “That is a style that’s been called a Canadian style, and it’s what we want to bring to the table.”

The style comes from a background in box lacrosse. Stroup, who will be a senior at Northwestern, played box lacrosse for the Port Coquitlam Saints in Vancouver from age 4 to 20 — the first three years with boys.

“It has really impacted our stick skills transferring this over to field lacrosse,” Stroup said. “Field lacrosse wasn’t a big thing where I’m from.”

Stroup never played field lacrosse until she was a high school sophomore, but it came easy with her box background. Her teammates have similar box experience, especially those from western Canada.

“Our players can adapt and can handle the body-up play, they have the stick skills to handle it, and in box lacrosse you can cross check so you get that level of toughness,” Teeter said. “It’s more or less having the creativity with the stick when the players are being overly aggressive. They just have a different skill set that they can make a play. The creativity to make the play is different.”

Teeter encourages that creativity as long as the time is right and the play is warranted. The field game slows down for players with box experience, and they find opportunities to use their stick skills.

“Playing box lacrosse, playing in such a tight space with so few players has really helped my game and my vision going into field lacrosse,” Stroup said. “Seeing how open everything is and handling the ball in box lacrosse in such a tight space and then being able to handle it in such an open space has really helped and increased my stick skills even more.”

Canada has a mix of players, from veterans of decades like Dana Dobbie, Crysti Foote and Katie Guy down to 15-year-old selection Bianca Chevarie. Erica Evans, Avery Hogarth, Megan Kinna and Lydia Sutton were members of the gold medal-winning 2015 Canadian U19 team. Canada won its first senior World Cup silver in 2013 for its best showing since 1982, and bronze in 2009.

In a May 27 exhibition at Yale, Team USA defeated Canada 20-7.

“The Americans are the team to beat,” Teeter said. “They’re very deep, very talented, very skilled. What we have to do is chip away and play our systems. We have to believe in our systems, and when we have the opportunity in the gold medal game, we have to throw everything at them. That was the approach we took with the U19s. We played them multiple times beforehand, and every game it seemed to get better for us, adjusting our systems and just playing our style.”

It’s a style with a flair that generates highlights and recently a U19 world title, and it helps key Canada’s World Cup championship hopes.

“I definitely think it has helped us and it will continue to help us going forward,” Stroup said. “I’m not going to say just our stick skills are going to get us to win, but it’s definitely going to be a factor in it.”

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