Iroquois in next round after beating Australia

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

A jubilant Iroquois team worked themselves into the world lacrosse championships cross-over round at TD Waterhouse Stadium yesterday with a 12-10 victory over Australia.

"Definitely this is the best team ever," said defender Mark Burnam, who is in his sixth world championship at age 45 and is the oldest man on the team.

The Iroquois Nationals finished the preliminary round with a 3-2 record and now meet Germany, the first-place finisher in one of the other three divisions. The game is at 4 p.m. today at TD Waterhouse Stadium.

Australia plays Ireland at 12:30 p.m. at TD Waterhouse.

"I can't remember ever playing Germany," Burnam said.

Iroquois co-coach Mouser Henry said his successful game plan was predicated on the weather.

"With the heat and TV timeouts there were breaks about every five minutes so I broke the game into 16 segments. We would regroup and focus on the next five minutes and control the ball," he said.

Henry said he knows little about Germany although the two teams did scrimmage briefly before the tournament began.

"They played zone and we just scrimmaged," he said.

Both Henry and Burnam were well aware of Iroquois' overtime loss to Australia in the 2002 championship and were prepared to avenge it.

The current Iroquois team is much different from the one he joined in 1984, Burnam said.

"Back then there was myself and one other all-American. Now more than half the team is all-American."

Burnam played against Henry when he joined the newly formed Iroquois team in 1983 and Burnam was playing for Syracuse University. "Then I went over and played for Iroquois."

Burnam also remembers when he was the fastest man on the Iroquois squad and played midfield.

"For the last two championships I've played defender. Age, you know, you get slower," he said.

Burnam had an earlier sports career in track, specializing in the 100-yard dash.

"I'm not the fastest anymore but I'm not the slowest. We've got some real blazers now."

Speed is in Burnam's blood. He has an automotive business, which includes building racing motors, in Tuscarora in western New York.

"I like speed," he said.

Burnam, not picked up last year, spent eight years playing pro lacrosse with Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and New York.

Iroquois goalie Marty Ward was good on 20 saves in the game.

Two-goal scorers for the Iroquois crew were Roger Vyse, Delby Powless, Brett Bucktooth, Gewas Shindler and Kent Squire.

The United States gets a bye in today's action after beating Japan 22-2 in the early game at TD Waterhouse yesterday, finishing the preliminary round with a perfect 4-0 record. The U.S. heads directly to tomorrow's semifinals.

All other first- to fourth-place teams are in action.


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