MELBOURNE, Australia – University of New Hampshire first-year women’s lacrosse coach head coach Michael Daly and five UNH women’s lax players were members of the USA Athletes International Team that won a gold medal at the Southern Cross Lacrosse Tournament that was held Jan. 2-4.

The U.S. team competed against four under-19 Australian teams as well as a squad from Japan. On the final day of round-robin competition, the coach Daly-led squad defeated Japan, 11-4, and later that day in the gold-medal game the U.S. team once again upended the Japanese team by a score of 14-2 to remain undefeated in the tourney.

Ilana Cohen (Andover, Mass.) and Kate Keagins (Bay Shore, N.Y.), both of whom are sophomore midfielders at UNH, and Jenny Simpson (New Canaan, Conn.), a freshman attack, were each selected once as a game MVP for one of the six games. Keagins received further distinction as the offensive MVP of the tournament.

UNH freshmen Amber Casiano (South Windsor, Conn.) and Casey Doyle (Ivyland, Pa.) also represented the U.S. team.

New Hampshire, ranked 20th in the Preseason Inside Lacrosse Div. I Media Poll, opens the 2010 season Feb. 24 at home against the College of the Holy Cross. Game time at Memorial Field is 4 p.m.

The following is an excerpt written by Cohen:

G-day mates! Over winter break, we were given the opportunity to travel to Australia to play lacrosse and explore the two cities we traveled to, Melbourne and Brisbane.

When we arrived in Melbourne, we unpacked at the hotel and got ready for our first lacrosse practice in the beautiful 90-degree weather. After only two practices, our team clicked and we were ready for the Southern Cross lacrosse tournament. Our team, Team USA, consisted of girls from Hofstra, Penn State, Old Dominion, Stonehill, Colby, Drew, and RIT. We had the chance to play four Australian teams and one Japanese team. After going 5-0, we played the Japan team again in the championship game and ended up winning the gold medal. All of the girls were extremely friendly and eager to socialize and take pictures together. We got to eat traditional Australian food and trade clothes with the Aussies and the Japanese. It was a great way to wrap up the tournament.

Also while in Melbourne, we traveled down the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay for our first surfing lesson! We put on our wet suits, grabbed our boards, and caught some great waves but also had some memorable wipeouts. We shopped at the Queen Victoria Market and used our best bargaining skills. There were boomerangs, Australian sweatshirts/t-shirts, and delicious fruits and vegetables. We got to bring in the New Year and win a gold medal in Melbourne and now it was off to Brisbane!

We flew an hour to Brisbane and arrived at our hotel only to find it was right on the beach and had the most beautiful view. Here, we had the chance to do some incredible things. First, we went to Thunderbird Park, a rope climbing/zip lining park that was definitely challenging. Coach Dales was the best at the ‘flying fox’ and no one will forget his zip lining skills. We also got to sing our hearts out at Karaoke and we got another surfing lesson on the Gold Coast. Needless to say, people were now mistaking us for Kelly Slater. During the next few days we went kayaking and saw dolphins, schools of fish, and sharks. To finish off the trip, we went to a Wildlife Sanctuary and got to hold koalas, pet kangaroos, and attend a bird show.

Being given the opportunity to not only go to Australia but also play lacrosse in another country and against other countries is something you cannot pass up. It was an unbelievable experience and something we will never forget, especially after winning a gold medal. Our successes will continue through our upcoming season and we can’t wait for February 24th, our first game against Holy Cross!

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