Young Dutch team keeps loss in perspective

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

The upstarts from the Low Countries lost a lacrosse game at the world field championships yesterday and were content with it.

"We're really pleased. We'd have liked to have won the game but realistically we competed to the end," said Cornelius Derks, head coach of the Netherlands, after keeping within six goals and losing 15-9 to a well-oiled German team on North London Athletic Fields.

After the six elite teams in the championships, which are playing all their games at TD Waterhouse Stadium, the Germans are considered the team to beat in three other divisions.

It's the first time the young Netherlands national team has ever competed at the world championships, which are held every four years. The Germans placed eighth overall in the 2002 championships.

Derks, born in the Netherlands but living in Whitby, coached both box and field lacrosse in Whitby and Oshawa for 38 years, including the Oshawa Blue Knights.

Now he's busy "repatriating" players of Dutch heritage who are in programs at U.S. universities.

"I took the project because I'm a developmental type of coach. We're trying to get the players back to Holland. I liked that philosophy. I love the game and if I can help another country get started I'm glad to do it," he said.

Friday the Netherlands beat South Korea 12-4 and it's believed to be the first time a first-time team won its first game in the international event.

The four-year-old Dutch program has spurred the start of new lacrosse programs at different levels, including a women's program, Derks said. The national team placed ninth in the European championship in 2003.

Derks said his team might end the round-robin portion of the tournament in good shape, believing they can beat New Zealand today and the Czech Republic tomorrow.

German head coach Jack Kaley, a college coach at the New York Institute of Technology on Long Island, called the Netherlands "one of the most improved teams in Europe."

Germany's Joey Kesterman, a top attacker, was a thorn in the side of the Netherlands yesterday scoring six goals and adding two assists.

The Germans definitely were in control of the game from the opening faceoff and held a 4-0 lead after the first quarter. But the Netherlands was game and Germany only held a 7-4 lead at halftime and 11-7 at three-quarter time. Germany then scored four straight to open the fourth quarter.

Derks' son, Jonas, who plays for Arizona in the National Lacrosse League, had four goals for the Netherlands.

"Six goals. That's good," said David Leich, an assistant Netherlands coach, of the goals differential.

The Netherlands asked for some coaching help, Leich said, and he was happy of join.

Leich, now living near Toronto, was a field lacrosse player for the University of Western Ontario Mustangs and later a coach when Western won the national title in 2001.

Leich began London's minor field lacrosse program with Brian Laporte and Matt Phelps in 1998, is a co-coach of the under-19 Ontario team and the Oshawa Blue Knights under-19 squad.

In addition, he coaches London's Molly Blooms team, which is playing the Festival portion of this week's championships.


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