Team USA captain Sarah Bullard will be aiming for her fourth gold medal Saturday after winning her first with the 2007 under-19 team and then two with the 2009 and 2013 senior teams.

Gold Medal Game Preview: United States vs. Canada

Defend the crown or steal the crown. Remain dominant or continue the upsets.

As the seven-time world champion, the undefeated United States has outscored its seven opponents 125-32 in pool play and playoffs, including its quarterfinal against Israel and semifinal against England. It could be third time’s the charm as Team USA aims for its third straight gold medal.

Aiming to flip the world order after its under-19 women’s team earned the program its first women’s world championship at any level in 2015, Canada enters the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women’s World Cup final with a 6-1 record, with its lone loss coming at the hands of the Americans and its wins nearly doubling its rivals’ offensive output when combined.

The 2017 gold medal game will be a rematch from the championship just four years ago – an impressive 19-5 win for Team USA over the Canadians.

U.S. coach Ricky Fried and Canada coach Scott Teeter caught up with US Lacrosse Magazine to discuss their expectations and hopes for an exciting end to the their time in Guildford, England. 

"With the depth that they have in the midfield, plus having four of the best attackers in the world that can finish, it’s a matchup nightmare." - Canada coach Scott Teeter on Team USA


Coach: Ricky Fried
2013 Finish: Gold
All-Time Medal Count: 7 Gold, 2 Silver
Captains: Sarah Bullard (M), Devon Wills (G)
Point Leader: Kayla Treanor (43)
Most Goals: Kayla Treanor (24)
Most Assists: Kayla Treanor (19)
Most Draw Controls: Taylor Cummings (28)
Most Caused Turnovers: Michelle Tumolo (9)


1. How Team USA responds is critical.

The U.S. team has to control its emotions, Fried continues to say from game to game. His team sometimes “gets a little too amped” and might have slow starts, but it’s their ability to settle in that allows them to pull away for each substantial victory that they’ve had. Being the reigning world champion adds pressure and Canada is known to throw different looks their way. “That plays a part into the emotion. I think it’s real. I think once we get going, eight-10 minutes in, we do a much better job. But our players are pretty self-critical. Having them focus on making a mistake and moving on is one of the challenges especially in bigger games, which each game becomes a bigger game.”

2. Winning draws is key.

When Team USA played Canada in pool play, its rival to the North won the draw battle 13-9 with the U.S. losing it in the first half 7-3. The Americans have two talented specialists in Ally Carey and Taylor Cummings, who lead the team with 20 and 28 draw controls, respectively. All-around attacker Michelle Tumolo also has snagged 12 draws. But the Canadians have two strong draw specialists of their own in Dana Dobbie and Kay Morissette, who have 25 and 28 draw controls to their name, respectively. “One of the biggest differences from last World Cup to this World Cup is having the ability to win the draw with people that just win the draw,” Fried said. “They have two really good draw control players in Morissette and Dobbie, so we need to make sure that’s not a huge win for them.”

3. The Americans can wear Canada down.

Athleticism should prevail against Canada. Team USA has seven strong midfielders that they can run any six at a time interchangeably to add fresh legs and increase the pace of the game. Their high-pressure ride, with continuous double teams, is also known to wear down their rivals and cause turnovers. “I don’t know if there’s a team out there that can sustain that level of activity for 60 minutes,” Fried said following the Israel quarterfinal. Added Teeter: “The U.S.’s game plan is to wear you down and they wore us down every time that we’ve played them. … They’re probably the only country right now here that can actually run six middies at a high rate and not really have any drop off. With the depth that they have in the midfield, plus having four of the best attackers in the world that can finish, it’s a matchup nightmare for other teams. They take teams out of their comfort zones.”


Michelle Tumolo, Attack

Television announcers can’t deny the former Syracuse Tewaaraton finalist is all over the field. She’s bought into the U.S. system and is the top all-around player for the Americans. Even though she’s an attacker, she leads in caused turnovers, which most would typically think would come from a defender. Tumolo’s stat sheet includes 17 assists, 12 draw controls, 11 goals and nine caused turnovers. When she gets three awards in one day – the game ball from her coaches, the honor of being the flag bearer from her teammates and the Player of the Match from the tournament – means her play is off the charts. “Tumolo is probably the biggest impact newcomer just in everything that she’s doing – ground balls, draw controls, caused turnovers, but then still leading the offense,” Fried said.


Sarah Bullard, Midfield 

Leading alongside fellow veteran Devon Wills, who is the “steady rock,” Sarah Bullard is the team’s speaking captain and takes her leadership to the next level with her enthusiasm and support of every single teammate. Bullard brings fun to the team with cheers and high fives, while also providing insightful commentary when needed to put her team on the same page. As a true leader, the three-time gold medalist (2007: U19 women; 2009, 2013: senior women) – and the first player in Team USA history to be named captain with the U19 and senior teams – doesn’t think about being a leading scorer, but rather fulfilling her leadership role successfully. “Bullard is a constant energy and constant support for the team. The team thrives of that energy level,” Fried said.”


Coach: Scott Teeter
2013 Finish: Silver
All-Time Medal Count: 1 Silver, 2 Bronze
Captains: Dana Dobbie (A), Katie Guy (D)
Point Leader: Alie Jimerson (23)
Most Goals: Erica Evans (17)
Most Assists: Alie Jimerson (9)
Most Draw Controls: Kay Morissette (28)
Most Caused Turnovers: Katie Guy (6)


1. The U19 win in 2015 set the standard.

Coach Scott Teeter expect to see Team USA’s best because they’re “considered the best team in the world for a reason.” But the Canada program has been on the rise in recent years trying to compete. Since the Canadian Lacrosse Association united the men’s and women’s teams under one umbrella, the growth began. In 2014, the Canada men’s team took down the U.S. 8-5 for gold, and then in 2015, the U19 women’s team made history with a 9-8 upset of the Americans. Since then, the senior women were charged with doing the same. “We’ve set the table,” Teeter said. “The Americans are very talented and we know that, but we’ve just got one shot and we want to make the most of it.”

2. Goalie Katie Donohoe is a force in net.

Despite defeating Australia 8-6 in the semifinal to advance to the gold medal game, Canada was in for a scare. The Aussies flipped the script in the second half and held Canada scoreless until the final three minutes of the game, which forced overtime. But it was Player of the Match, goalie Katie Donohoe, who kept the Canadians in the game. She recorded seven saves in the second half to finish with a save percentage at 67 percent. In Canada's seven games, she's tallied 42 saves total. Fried has noticed her ability: “Their zone is patiently aggressive. Their goaltender is a huge part of that.” Added Teeter: “Right now, Katie Donohoe is the star of the game, for sure in the semifinal game, and she’s just getting better.”

3. Canada’s skill set will shine.

With a background in box lacrosse, Team Canada’s players’ utmost creativity with the ball will be on display Saturday. Again, thinking back to the U19 win when Danita Stroup had a behind-the-back feed for the go-ahead goal, Teeter embraces that creativity. It’s been known as the “Canadian style.” Playing in a box arena means sharper stick skills due to limited space, and that only improves when playing on a larger field. “Offensively, they’ll do a lot of switches, picks, flips and fake flips,” Fried said. “Their biggest strength is definitely their skill set. They have great hands. They handle the ball exceptionally well – very creative and dynamic.”


Alie Jimerson, Attack

After switching from her native Haudenosaunee team due to a passport impasses that left several of her former U19 teammates unsure of their chances to play in the 2017 World Cup, attacker Alie Jimerson said playing with Team Canada has been “worth it” – and her stat line proves it. With six points on five goals and one assist, she was named the Player of the Match in Canada’s dominant 16-1 win over New Zealand. She now leads the team in points (14) and assists (9). With the uncertainty that existed prior to this summer, there doesn’t seem to be any for her now. “Seeing Alie Jimerson step up has been phenomenal for us,” Teeter said.


Dana Dobbie, Attack

The veteran, who could be playing in her last World Cup, has been described as the heart and soul of the Canada squad. Teeter even said she was “Mrs. Canada for lacrosse.” But it’s her on-field play that backs up that statement. She embodies the “Canadian style” of lacrosse with her one-handed passes and behind-the-back shots. She’s the team leader that puts the game on her shoulders when needed, like she did against Australia in the semifinal scoring the game-tying goal to force overtime. “Dobbie took the game when we needed it most against Australia onto her back,” Teeter said. “She’s bought in this World Cup and she knows her days are getting numbered that maybe this will be her last. She wants to go out as a winner, as a gold medalist, just like some of her teammates did with U19.”


The draw will be an area of focus for both Canada and the United States, with top draw specialists Dana Dobbie and Kay Morrisette for Canada and Ally Carey and Taylor Cummings for Team USA.


Team USA has to play as one unit.

Attackers Kayla Treanor and Michelle Tumolo have learned this lesson firsthand. Assistant Liz Robertshaw noted their growth within the U.S. team has been evident in their commitment to not worrying about their scoring, but instead doing whatever the team may need, which includes riding the ball and causing turnovers. When everyone works seamlessly within a structured system, from offense to defense, it allows for creativity to shine without individuals feeling a burden of needing to carry the team to victory. “Players, individually, need to do what they’re comfortable doing, while still playing within what we want to do as a group,” Fried said. 

Canada needs to value the ball.

The Australia game was too close for comfort. Canada nearly lost its shot to play for the gold medal, making uncharacteristic turnovers and not sinking shots. Teeter said Canada needs to play “mistake-free lacrosse” in order to challenge the Americans because they are so talented across the board. “We have to value the ball and make plays,” said Teeter. “You can’t have the little mishaps that we turn the ball over on ourselves. The U.S. will make plays on us, but we just can’t be our Achilles heel. We have to make sure we’re making enough plays to offset their plays.”


Gold Medal Game: United States vs. Canada
Time: 3 p.m. local (10 a.m. ET)
Location: Surrey Sports Park, Rathbones Championship Pitch
Live Stream: ($) or BBC Sports (U.K.)
Live Coverage: Follow US Lacrosse Magazine Deputy Editor Megan Schneider for live in-game updates on Twitter @mschneider713