England lacrosse captain Laura Merrifield believes her luck is finally ready to change this summer.
After twice finishing fourth, Harpenden’s Merrifield is aiming high ahead of the FIL Rathbones Lacrosse World Cup on home soil in Guildford.
The 28-year old, who played college lacrosse for the University of Maryland, made the world all-star team four years ago in Canada - but she’d swap all her individual glory to finally crack the podium.
And she believes there’s never been a better England squad to break the stranglehold enjoyed by defending champions the United States and podium regulars Canada and Australia.
“It would mean everything if we could win it to me. We have worked so hard in the last four years and built and built a great team,” said Merrifield, who attended St George’s College in Harpenden.
“We have remained composed and listened to our coaches and I think we have a really good chance this year. You need to take every opportunity to go hard; you never know when it is going to be your last chance at this level.
“I think it is very exciting that we are a young team because we are fresh, it is new. Everyone is looking forward to learn new things, which I think has really helped and I have been through a few so it is great to help and support them.
“USA will be favourites and I was at university there for four years so I definitely have an insight. The pace of the game at college level is huge and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to play out there for that long. I learnt a lot, so hopefully I can help and show others over here.”
England head coach Phil Collier has already cut his training squad to 25 but needs to trim seven further players in the weeks ahead to reach his final 18-strong roster, with a friendly against Japan next week important in those decisions.
The hosts will open their campaign with games against Scotland and Wales but it’s a grudge match with Australia that could be decisive - and last year they beat their rivals 2-1 in a three Test series.
“We have had a completely new coaching staff come through and they have brought with them a fresh set of ideas, new tactical knowledge which has really lifted the game and taken us to another level,” added Merrifield.
“Hopefully, we will be competing up there – we have had the chance to play against Canada, Australia and USA – and they are our main contenders - and we can look forward to seeing them again."
The FIL Rathbones Women’s World Lacrosse Cup takes place at Surrey Sports Park, Guildford, 12-22 July 2017. Tickets on sale at www.2017worldlacrosse.com