Field lacrosse takes centre stage

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:04 AM ET

The country's top field lacrosse players converge on London today for Canada's final-50 training camp and for the Canadian seniors championship.

Canada, under head coach Frank Nielsen of British Columbia, will be sorting through 50 players remaining from previous evaluation camps in B.C., Calgary and Ontario in preparation for the 2006 world championships to be held July 13-22 in London.

"About 45 (of the 50) will be pro box lacrosse players, names people know," said Tim Hobbs, chairperson of the world championships host committee that will not only pit the six top nations in the world against each other but also have lower division championships as well.

The national team candidates will play two exhibition games -- Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. at the North London Fields at Adelaide Street and Kipps Lane against Canisius College, Buffalo. The "final 50" will then be trimmed to 23.

Next year's elite championship will feature Canada, the U.S., Australia, Iroquois Nations, Japan and England, using TD Waterhouse Stadium at the University of Western Ontario as its venue. All other games will be at the North London Fields.

Canada has been host to the world championships once before and has won gold once as well (1978 in Manchester, England).

"This is our best chance to win gold again," Hobbs said. "The best we did lately was second in Australia in 2002. We've won lots of silver and one bronze."

After arriving tonight, players on seven senior teams begin Canadian championship tournament play tomorrow at the North London Fields, ending with the championship game about 3:30 or 4 p.m. Sunday at TD Waterhouse. Seniors are 19 and up.

London will be represented by Molly Bloom's, a team of local field and box lacrosse players from various teams.

The games begin at 9 a.m. each day.


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