Bedford’s Wallace plays in European Lax Championships
COLCHESTER, Vt. – Saint Michael’s College rising men’s lacrosse senior Taylor Wallace was the Ireland National Lacrosse Team’s second-leading scorer at the European Lacrosse Championships, which came to an end in early August in Gödöll?, Hungary. Wallace, who has dual citizenship, helped Ireland take 11th among 24 countries.
Wallace ended the tournament second on the 23-man team in both goals (14) and points (17) through eight games, trailing only Aaron Cahill, a past national champion at both Onondaga Community College (N.Y.) and Le Moyne College. During his 42-contest college career, Wallace has posted 16 goals and 21 points out of the midfield.
"With our small roster, everyone was expected to have an impact," said Wallace. "We had five coaches who helped us shape our roles, and within a few days we knew. I had an idea that I would be running two-way midfield and that ended up being close enough, but I was seen as more of an offensive guy when we needed to score. I played man up and took the wing on faceoffs."
Ireland went 5-3 overall, including 3-2 during pool play to finish third in its six-team grouping; the top two teams in each pool qualified for the medal rounds. Between July 28 and Aug. 5, Ireland played eight 80-minute games, taking only July 31 away from competition. Wallace netted a hat trick and added two assists in a 10-8 loss to Scotland in the opener before the Irish ran off three straight wins, 16-0 over Austria, 5-3 versus Wales and 17-5 against Denmark. Versus the Danes, Wallace again scored three times, including twice in a 9-0 run that blew open an 8-5 contest. However, a 10-8 overtime loss to Norway on Aug. 2 eliminated Ireland from medal consideration.
In the quarterfinals, Wallace scored twice in a 15-5 victory over Poland before adding his third hat trick in a 17-12 setback to Latvia during the semifinals. During the 11th-place game, Wallace netted a pair to help Ireland down Norway, 10-7, and gain a measure of revenge to a squad it lost to in pool play. England won the gold medal.
"We were an accumulation of guys from around the world but we are all Irish," said Wallace. "Representing a country is an amazing feeling. In the past it’s been rival towns competing or other schools in my conference, but now it was an entire nation. There is so much history behind a nation, and being able to connect that with a sport I love was incredible. Looking down to the front of the jersey and realizing how much more significant that word is than the name on the back is tough to describe. It really gives you a feeling of togetherness and unity."
Wallace, who studied in Galway, Ireland, last fall semester, is a dual citizen of the United States and Ireland. He landed a spot on the roster after attending an open tryout for the national team in Dublin. Ireland’s placement at the 10th European Championship came on the heels of taking second out of 20 countries in 2012. After only six teams competed at the first six European Championships, with the inaugural event occurring in 1995, at least a dozen countries were represented at the most recent four, with the tournament’s growth matching the development of the sport around Europe. Ireland sent its first entry to the championship in 2001. The Irish were 10th out of 38 teams at the 2014 World Lacrosse Championship in Denver, their third straight top-10 finish.
"We had a lot of rookies on the team this year, and we have high expectations going forward for the World Championships in Manchester, England, in 2018," said Wallace. "Coming back to the States to finish my degrees and play my final year on the Saint Michael’s men’s lacrosse team is benefited by having 27 players and coaches across North America and Europe that I can call upon for advice or just a friendly chat. The European Lacrosse Championships was an amazing experience, and I am super glad to have partaken in it as a member of the Ireland Lacrosse Program."