ON THE BALL: Zach Currier chases down the ball in a 2017 game during his senior season with the Princeton University men’s lacrosse team. This week, star midfielder Currier is playing for Canada at the FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) World Championships in Netanya, Israel. Currier has contributed two goals and an assist to help Canada to go 3-1 to start group play as it looks to defend its title. The semis are slated for July 19 with the championship game scheduled for July 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
Zach Currier’s combination of versatility and grit helped make him one of the more uniquely productive players in the history of Princeton University men’s lacrosse history.
During his senior season in the spring of 2017, star midfielder Currier, a 6’0, 180-pound native of Peterborough, Ontario, produced 24 goals, 34 assists, 130 ground balls, a team-best 27 caused turnovers, and a 57 percent winning percentage on face-offs for the Tigers.
Moving up to Major League Lacrosse (MLL) that summer to join the Denver Outlaws, Currier continued to be a dynamic playmaker, earning All-Star honors and helping the Outlaws advance to the MLL championship game.
Over the winter, Currier emerged as one of the top rookies in the indoor National Lacrosse League with the Calgary Roughnecks.
This week, Currier is displaying his skill set and tenacity on an international stage, playing for team Canada in the FIL (Federation of International Lacrosse) World Championships in Netanya, Israel.
“It is something I have dreamed about, being able to represent Canada,” said Currier, who has contributed two goals and an assist so far in the tournament to help Canada to go 3-1 to start group play as it looks to defend its title.
“I have done it at U19 level but that is playing with boys. Now that I am able to do it on the men’s level, it is huge. I am really happy for it. It is definitely one of the biggest accomplishments in my lacrosse career, something that I hope can turn into a gold medal.”
Moving up to the MLL helped Currier raise the level of his game. “Making the transition was tough, especially with the shot clock and the skill level, of course,” said Currier, who is based in Michigan where he works full-time for Warrior Sports as a product development engineer focusing on improving lacrosse stick design.
“But with my box background, being able to play fast and being able to adapt to new positions, that helped me. There was an adjustment period for sure but the great coaching staff helped me along the way.”
Going indoors for the NLL was an easier transition for Currier. “I definitely had an edge on most of the younger crowd who got drafted just straight out of high school,” said Currier.
“You go from playing lacrosse at whatever level you are to playing to the best in the world. There are some guys in this league that are just out of this world in terms of skills. You have got to be at your best to try to stop them from scoring. They are going to get their goals and you try to limit them.”
Looking ahead to the world championships, Currier saw taking care of the ball as a key to success for Canada.
“I think possession is critical at the international level,” said Currier. “There is no shot clock, there is no time limit to clear the ball. That is going to be huge, just being able to play hard and make stops when we need to and score goals when we need to. A lot of it is timing.”
Currier’s scrappy, do-everything style should come in handy with the emphasis on ball possession.
“I am hoping to do all the dirty work for my teammates,” said Currier. “There are so many skilled guys on my team. I am not going to be able to score as well as they can but I can pick up a ground ball and I can get them the ball and make sure that our defense gets a rest and stuff like that. The biggest part of my game is that I will be able to contribute is picking up the ball, working hard on the defensive end and in transition, and making sure that our team gets as many possessions as we can.”
Although Canada topped the U.S. 8-5 in the 2014 Worlds final, Currier knows that the squad can’t take anything for granted as it goes for a repeat.
“No matter how many times we win this thing, we will always come in as underdogs because of how strong the U.S.A. team is,” said Currier, who tallied a goal as Canada fell 11-10 to the U.S. last Sunday in a group play matchup.
“I think that is an advantage for us because we have nothing to lose. If we go in there and play our best and the U.S.A. beats us, then our hats are off to them. But we are going to do out best to make sure that doesn’t happen.”