PRAGUE – In a hard fought game that was tied 4-4, 5-5, and 6-6 for about five minutes early in the second half, Ireland pulled away from defending European Champion Wales, 12-7, today, and captured fifth place in its first ever appearance in the FIL Women’s World Cup.
The game, the fifth since Monday for the Irish squad, saw Ireland take a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes after goals by Kristin Blanchette, Jennifer Johnson, and Katie Hogan as a large crowd of fans chanted “Let’s Go Ireland, Let’s Go,” or “Wales, Wales, Wales!” Late in the half and after a goal by Ireland’s Kaitlin Leggio with 90 seconds left, the Welsh women scored again and
trailed 4-3, but Ireland repelled their relentless attack over the last 30 seconds by not allowing a clear shot at the goal.
Wales tied the score less than two minutes in to the second half, but three minutes later
Jennifer Johnson scored again and put the green side ahead, 5-4. Wales came back with two goals in 24 seconds after a free position shot in which an official had moved Ireland’s keeper out of the goal, and then a second goal for a brief 6-5 lead. At 9:15 in to the half, Katie Hogan evened the score after a crisp pass from Krista Pellizzi from behind the goal, and Kristin Blanchette put Ireland ahead to stay 37 seconds later with another assist from Pellizzi.
Ireland defender Merritt Cosgrove then scored what turned out to be the game winner when, surrounded by three Wales defenders at mid-field, she raced out of the crowd with the ball, ran a straight line to the goal, and beat the Welsh goalie with her shot.
Heavy rain began falling with about ten minutes left and Ireland leading 9-7, and after Ireland’s 10th goal and a Wales timeout with 7:51 left, a thunderstorm caused the officials to clear the field and delayed the end of the game for more than an hour.
After the game Ireland head coach Dan Leidl said “We are all very excited and pretty pumped up. The team played unbelievably well, and we hope to ride this wave and keep the
development of lacrosse in Ireland moving ahead for a long time.”
Pamela Smithwick was named player of the game against Wales, and Lauren Cohen was
named Ireland Team MVP for the Tournament. “It was a great effort by all 18 women” said Team Leader, Jim Carroll. “They were just magnificent, they left everything on the field and we’re all very, very happy.”
Ireland scoring against Wales – Blanchette, 3G, 1A; Cohen, 1G; Cosgrove, 1G; Hogan, 3G; Johnson, 2G, 1A; Leggio, 2G, 1A; Pellizzi, 3A.
Saves – Kahoe, 9