Australia . . . . .7
PARTISAN Americans wishing to witness a World Cup triumph should have ignored the recent extravaganza in their homeland and concentrated on the alternative showpiece in Greater Manchester. They may be an emerging nation in football, but the United States are unquestionably the kings of lacrosse.
Their emphatic demolition of Australia here earned them their sixth world championship in their seventh final appearance in as many tournaments. The format of the event may have changed since its conception in 1967, but one factor remains constant: the United States are in a league of their own.
Australia, who had jettisoned experienced players in favour of a younger squad, were simply overwhelmed. As Mick Moore, the England coach, had put it after the the United States' 25-3 semi-final mauling of the host nation: 'Playing against the Americans in this mood is like facing an army of ants with a fly-swatter.'
The Australians, who have now been runners-up to the United States in four finals, must welcome a match against the world champions about as much as an England cricket victory in the Ashes. Trailing 7-3 after the first quarter (about as close as they ever came to an upset), their hopes of bettering the closely fought 14-12 qualifying group defeat against the holders soon disappeared with a quite breathtaking display. Even die-hard Shakers' fans used to the serving of lower division football at their homely stadium would have been hard- pressed to deny it was a level of sporting excellence rarely achieved at Gigg Lane.
From the relatively close scoreline of 7-3 after the opening 25 minutes, the United States simply upped the pace to lead 11-5 at half-time, 16-6 at three-quarter time, before finishing with a flourish as Australia wilted.
Mark Millon, a chunky attacker as vital to the US's World Cup challenge as Romario was to Brazil's return to the pinnacle of football, was quite devastating and added a further five goals to the 22 he had already notched in the tournament to become the World Cup's highest scorer. 'We shot the ball well,' said the United States head coach, Tony Seamen, in what must be the understatement of the event.
So why does the American stranglehold continue? Strange as it may seem after their comfortable final win, other countries are edging closer to their standards. In the inaugural championships in Toronto in 1967, they lifted the trophy - decided on a league basis - without even picking a national squad, electing instead to enter their champions, Mount Washington.
At the next event, in Melbourne in 1974, the US averaged more than 20 goals a match, before recording the only blemish on their near-perfect record by losing to Canada in Stockport four years later. US domination became the norm thereafter with victories in Baltimore, Toronto and Perth four years ago.
'We have a lot of people to choose from,' added Seamen, almost apologetically. So much so their colossus of a captain, Dave Pietramala, announced his retirement at the tender age of 26 after claiming his second world championship winners' medal.
'He wants to stop at the top. He's retiring at the peak of his powers,' Seamen confirmed. Who is to bet if he reverses his decision he still won't finish up on the summit in Baltimore in 1998?
Australia: 7 (G Purdie 2, J Buchanan 2, D Gibson, C Toomy, J Brewer), United States 21 (M Millon 4, M Miller 4, L Dixon 4, B Marino 2, R Shek 2, D Pietramaia 2, C Lockwood, J Detommaso, R Cook). Quarter scores: 3-7, 5-11, 6-16, 7-21.
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