August 19, 2010

Two Holy Cross Alums Excel At Lacrosse World Championship

By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com

Holy Cross graduates Connor Sweeney (Class of 2010) and Jim Carboneau (Class of 1974) both participated at the 2010 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Men's World Championship in Manchester, England on July 15-24. Sweeney, who was coming off an outstanding senior season in goal for the Crusaders, played for Ireland, while Carboneau, who was a captain and a former assistant coach at Holy Cross, served as a referee at the tournament.

Sweeney, who led the team to a 6-1 record and a ninth place finish out of 29 teams, soaked in the atmosphere of playing at the world stage against the high level of competition. "It was a great opportunity to play against teams from all over the world," said Sweeney. "It was interesting to hear different languages on the field and great to see the improvement of the Irish team throughout the week and a half."

The former Holy Cross goalie was outstanding in net during the tournament including big performances in victories over Sweden. In the 12-7 Irish win on July 19, he made eight saves for a .533 save percentage, while he stopped 12 shots for a .600 save percentage in the 15-8 victory on July 23 to give Ireland the ninth place finish. Another highlight was when Sweeney made five saves and allowed only one goal for a .833 save percentage in the first half of the 21-3 win over Korea on July 16 in Ireland's first game of the tournament. 

Carboneau officiated one of the tournament's most exciting contests, as he was the crew chief for the triple overtime Wales versus Netherlands game that Holland won by a score of 9-8. Carboneau, who is a member of the New England Lacrosse Hall of Fame, loved watching the players represent their countries. "The whole aspect of teams representing their countries and the obvious pride of the players was pretty cool," said Carboneau. "There was pride but no arrogance or negative aura between teams on or off the field. Everybody just seemed proud and happy to be there. My favorite moments were the national anthems before the games, team Scotland walking in behind a bagpiper, and how special it was to have the teams singing their anthems. While I was not technically representing USA, I was proud to be a part of the whole game experience."

Sweeney, who played all seven games, was pleased with the team's performance. "The team was very happy with how we did," said Sweeney. "We would have liked to finish a little higher, but everyone walked away from the tournament a little better and it was a great experience for all involved."

His favorite moment was the opening ceremony that featured all 29 teams walking in carrying their country's flag. "What really stands out to me was the opening ceremony," said Sweeney. "Walking in as a team in the big stadium with 28 other countries is something that I will never forget. My family and a few of my teammates from Holy Cross made the trip to make it that more memorable."  

Sweeney also enjoyed meeting players from all over the world. "It was great that all of the different countries stayed in the same location and the games were played close to the accommodations. I was able to meet a lot of lacrosse players from all over the world and hear some great stories." 

Sweeney had a good time checking out the sites of the host city, but was not a big fan of the weather. "It rained every day we were there so the weather was not one of my favorite things," said Sweeney. "I did enjoy the rich history of Manchester and I got a chance to see Old Trafford which is the stadium that Manchester United plays at. It was truly remarkable and unlike any stadium I had ever been to." 

Playing for the Crusaders was a major benefit for Sweeney at the tournament. "My experience at Holy Cross was extremely beneficial in Manchester because I got to play against some great competition as a Crusader. The Patriot League is extremely competitive and playing against such a tough schedule helped me with what I faced in the tournament."

Sweeney, who has dual citizenship, plans on staying involved with the development of lacrosse in Ireland and hopes to play as often as he can. He will always cherish his experience at the World Championship. "I'm going to take away a lot of memories and a lot of friends," said Sweeney. "I met a lot of great people who I hope to keep in touch with. It was an honor playing for Ireland and something I will never forget."

Carboneau, who has been officiating for 35 years, loved every moment of his experience at the tournament. "It was an honor to ref the games, and fairly emotional for me as it was my first and last world games," said Carboneau. "I had pretty much given up the dream of going. I met many friends who were there and made more friends while there. I feel honored, humble and lucky to have gone and been a part of the games."