U.S. Edges Canada 12-10 to Win World Lacrosse Men's U21 Championship

PHOTO BY ADY KERRY

The U.S. captured its ninth consecutive gold medal at the junior level.


LIMERICK, Ireland — CJ Kirst had his hands full. Holding his All-World team trophy in one hand and his Best Midfielder of the Tournament award in the other, he bent down and placed both on the grass. He turned to his left and hugged his older brother and teammate, Cole Kirst. It was a long and loving embrace and a few seconds before CJ Kirst jogged over to receive his Tournament MVP award.

After scoring five goals with one assist in a 12-10 win over Canada to win the 2022 World Lacrosse Men’s U21 Championship, he added a gold medal to the collection, too. It was the ninth consecutive men’s world championship for the U.S. at the junior level, and it might not have been possible without Kirst, who was added to the roster last month.

“First stepping foot in the locker room and meeting all the guys, kinda knowing I had a shot to get on the team, everyone just accepted me with open arms,” Kirst said. “It's just crazy how we've come full circle.” 

Unlike the most recent junior world championship, in 2016, when the U.S. trailed Canada by six at the half and by three in the fourth quarter before rallying for a 13-12 victory, the U.S. never trailed in this championship — but it was far from easy.

Canada cut the U.S. lead to a single goal twice in the second half, the last coming with 2:16 to play on a Graydon Hogg goal. Jake Naso won the ensuing faceoff for the U.S. after Jack Monfort scooped up a ground ball, and then Patrick Kavanagh split a double-team and scored a goal with no goalie in the crease with 1:44 left to give the U.S. the final margin.

The championship was flipped from the pool play game between these two countries, a 7-5 USA win fueled by faceoff dominance and 11 saves from Liam Entenmann to backbone the defense. On Saturday, Canada won 15 of 26 faceoffs and Entenmann made just five saves, but he came up clutch with two in the fourth quarter.







The offense carried a bigger load for the U.S. in the second game between the two teams, and Kirst did most of the early work, scoring all five of his goals in the first half. He also added an assist in the third quarter after Canada began keying on him more.

Brennan O’Neill was also a big force for the U.S. offense, finishing with two goals and an assist, and Kavanagh had two goals and two assists. Hogg led Canada with three goals and Owen Hiltz and Ross Scott each scored twice. Canada had assists on just two of its 10 goals as compared to 7 of 12 for the U.S.

With navy blue hats with gold “World Champs” block letters on their heads and remnants of the netting hanging from their bodies, the U.S. huddled around head coach Nick Myers one last time.

“This is a brotherhood,” Myers said.

He then had one final request of his 23 players. After walking to team dinners, meetings and practices in two orderly lines each day for the past two weeks, enjoying their time together and continuing to build chemistry, he asked them to walk off the field the same way one last time. Ryan Schriber led the way, holding the U.S. flag over his right shoulder as the team walked through the night back to their cottages.

Fittingly, “We Are the Champions” played loudly as they marched.

“We knew Canada was going to test us in a lot of ways, and they certainly did,” Myers said, “but we dug in and found a way to get the job done.”

NOTE: From 1988 through 2016 this championship used the U19 age grouping. World Lacrosse has since reclassified it to a U20 championship moving forward. The 2022 event was given a one-time age exemption to U21 due to postponements from the global pandemic.

Game stats available at: https://www.worldlax2022.com/results

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