Fueled by strong outside shooting, the United States scored a tournament-high 21 goals to defeat Puerto Rico 21-3 in the quarterfinal round of the 2022 World Lacrosse Men’s U21 Championship in Limerick, Ireland. The U.S. advances to Thursday’s semifinal round when it will meet the Haudenosaunee in a nationally-televised game on ESPNU at 2 p.m. (Eastern).
Puerto Rico got a pair of goals in the first quarter from Brandon Aviles, normally a short stick defensive midfielder for his Syracuse team, to trail just 3-2 midway through the first quarter. Graham Bundy Jr. and Lance Tillman answered with a pair of outside shots to give the U.S. a 5-2 lead after the first quarter.
A second quarter hat trick from Alex Slusher helped the U.S. push the lead to 10-2 at the halftime break and then after Aviles scored his third goal of the game to open the second half scoring, Puerto Rico went scoreless for the final 28 minutes of the game.
Slusher had a team-high eight points on four goals and four assists for the U.S. and had plenty of help. Brennan O’Neill had a team-high five goals while adding an assist, C.J. Kirst had four goals and an assist, Brendan Grimes had two goals and two assists, Cole Kirst had four assists and Bundy had three goals.
Alec Stathakis continued his dominant faceoff play, winning 24 of 26 draws against Puerto Rico’s Colin Baez who entered the game with a 67.9 winning percentage in the tournament. Stathakis’ 24 wins set a new U.S. record, breaking the mark of 23 set by Matt Dolente in a pair of wins during the 2008 tournament. Stahakis leads this year’s world championship with an 81.6 winning percentage (71 of 87).
Liam Entenmann and Jared Paquette split goaltending duties with Entenmann making two first half saves and Paquette closing the game allowing just one goal in the second half.
Canada and Australia will meet in Thursday’s first semifinal. That game is available on ESPN+ at 11 a.m. (Eastern). The two semifinal winners will meet in the championship game on Saturday at 2 p.m. (Eastern) on ESPNU.
Game stats available at: https://www.worldlax2022.com/results