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Lacrosse: North alumni Chris Smith represents USA and wins gold medal at Lisbon Cup
Team USA

Last year, Chris Smith, a 2020 graduate of North Forsyth High School, and Jack Haley traveled to Lisbon, Portugal to represent the United States in the international lacrosse tournament. Their trip came to an end when they lost the championship against Italia. 

This year, Team USA came back with more experience by adding Ben Edwards, and Jacob Haas for vengeance, defeating Italia 14-6 in the championship game, stopping Italia from winning the team’s fourth consecutive championship. 

Smith got in his bag by scoring two goals and one assist to be crowned the Lisbon Lacrosse Cup MVP in front of a packed stadium. Jacob Haas was elected team MVP by his teammates and coaches.

“Last year being MVP and coming in second – yeah it was great, but something didn’t feel right to me and [for] the guys that were there,” Smith said. “This year we took the gold medal home and the redemption of playing Italia again and winning. We did so much better as a team. Coming back for a second time feels a lot better than coming home second place.”

“The difference between this year and last year was that we had [some] unprepared guys and a lot of younger kids on the team. This year we had a lot of older guys with a few years under their belt and guys that knew how to play under pressure,” Smith said.

Despite their opponents' best efforts, Team USA outscored 53-12.

“[The] defense connected fairly well. The competition wasn’t strong up until the semi-finals, but defense overall played very well,” Haas said. 

“Our defense was on their heads 24/7,” Smith said. “They were not letting guys get to the goal. Our goalie was phenomenal making saves left and right.” 

In the Bracket Play Game 3, Team USA defeated the Tax Dodgers 7-1, then in the quarter finals, they defeated Victorious Secret 7-1, next they faced Italia II and won 4-3 in overtime to advance. Italia had two teams and combined them for the championship game.

“The overtime game we all came out ready and everything. Italia started first with a goal and we knew we had to do something to pick up the pace,” Smith said. “Everyone had to keep pushing as hard as they could even though we were all tired from playing five games that day. After we scored [the game-winning goal], it was a big relief off our shoulders that we could pull this off.”

“We started off slow,” Haas said. “We went down 2-0 in the first half of the game then slowly but surely, we started to take commands and got settled down to our groove. Came back and tied the game with five seconds to go in regulation then went to overtime to take care of business.”

Smith had one goal, and Haas finished with one assist and won ⅗ of his faceoffs. 

“I wasn’t notified of [being elected MVP] until a couple of days after the tournament concluded but it feels pretty good. I’m proud of myself for achieving that,” Haas said.

“The stadium was pretty packed with other players from other teams; women and men's teams combined,” he said.

The venue’s main stadium has about 1,500 seats.

“It’s not like college where it's just parents, friends, and family, it's people you don’t even know up there,” Smith said. “More than half of the people that were there were cheering [for] the U.S., wanting us to beat Italia because they’ve won the past three years. Everyone was tired of them winning. Knowing everyone was on your side was very nice.”