TURKU, Finland - UNC's Steve Pontrello tallied five goals as the U.S. under-19 men's national team avenged a pool play loss to the Iroquois Nationals by winning the rematch, 12-7, on Thursday in the semifinal round of the Federation of International Lacrosse U19 World Championships.
Pontrello, a midfielder from Marlton, N.J., scored five goals, including three straight to open the second half as the U.S. built a 9-5 lead just 5:46 into the third quarter after Connor Buczek tacked on another goal.
The U.S. won 16 of 22 faceoffs. Tyler Barbarich went 9-for-12 and Charlie Raffa went 7-for-10 and were helped often by wing play and ground ball efforts.
After allowing 15 goals to the Iroquois in the pool play loss on Tuesday, the U.S. allowed just two second-half goals and none in the fourth quarter, ending the game on an 8-3 run starting with 9:45 left in the first half on Ryan Tucker's second man-up goal. Tucker had two goals and an assist.
The Iroquois (3-2) led 3-0 with 8:20 left in the first quarter, but the U.S. scored three times in the final six minutes of the opening quarter to tie it. It was 5-5 at halftime.
Warren Hill made 15 saves for the Iroquois in the loss, and Randall Staats scored a team-high three goals with one assist.
The U.S. (4-2) advances to play unbeaten Canada (5-0), a 15-4 winner over England in Thursday's first semifinal, for the world title at 4 p.m. (9 a.m. EST) Saturday in Finland. Team USA has won all six gold medals contested since sanctioned U19 international play began in 1988. Canada beat the U.S., 11-9, in overtime last Saturday in pool play.
Four Tar Heels will compete in Saturday's championship match — Steve Pontrello, Michael Tagliafferi and Brent Armstrong for the USA and Chad Tutton for Canada.
Federation of International Lacrosse U19 World Championships
USA 3 2 5 2 - 12
IRQ 3 2 2 0 - 7
Goals: USA - Pontrello 5, Kavanagh 2, Tucker 2, Buczek 1, Keenan 1, Leonard 1; IRQ - Staats 3, B. Bomberry 1, Miller 1, Oakes 1, Thompson 1
Assists: USA - Kavanagh 2, Buczek 1, Leonard 1, Mahon 1, Tucker 1; IRQ - J. Powless 1, Staats 1, Tarbell 1, Thompson 1
Saves: USA - Oliveri 4, Turri 4; IRQ - Hill 15
Faceoffs: USA - 16 of 22, Barbarich 9 of 12, Raffa 7 of 10; IRQ - 6 of 22For complete information about the U.S. U19 team, including a roster, please visit http://www.laxmagazine.com/teamusa/u19men/index