Former Great Oak goalie has front row seat with Latvia

SAN DIEGO – The 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship, which was presented by Rady Children’s Hospital, concluded at Snapdragon Stadium Saturday, July 1, after eleven days of action. More than 82,000 fans attended the 107 games over 11 days of competition, which was broadcast in a record 190+ countries. This was the 14th edition of the international men’s field lacrosse tournament for national teams organized by World Lacrosse. Initially scheduled for 2022, it was postponed to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 14th edition of the men’s championship featured the top 30 teams from around the world.

The big story was that the United States defended its title on home soil with a 10-7 victory over archrival Canada in front of a crowd of 15,112. The more local story was that former Great Oak goalie (2020 graduate), Ryan Richters, was there to see the tournament first-hand, as a player for the Latvia team.

Tournament MVP, Brennan O’Neill from Team USA, had a hat trick in a 7-5 pool play win over Canada at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego. Valley News/David Canales photo

First things first, much like their pool play game, the gold medal game was another back-and-forth epic battle and marked the USA’s first back-to-back title since 2002 and third clinched on home soil.

World Lacrosse CEO Jim Scherr said: “Congratulations to the United States, and all of the participating teams on an incredibly competitive and compelling world championship. People around the globe consumed this event at record levels, showing us truly how far the sport has come. Thank you to the city of San Diego, San Diego State University, and the University of San Diego for being stellar hosts, and to Joe Tsai and the entire organizing committee for their tireless work on behalf of the sport.”

Brennan O’Neill, the lone collegiate player on the USA’s star-studded team, was the story of the championship game with five goals, including the go-ahead goal to make it 5-4 in the third quarter and a clutch goal with just over two minutes remaining to restore a late two-goal lead. He was named the MVP for the championship, finishing with 15 goals and five assists to tie for the most points on the U.S. team. Michael Sowers added two goals in the championship match, and goalkeeper Blaze Riorden slowed the potent Canada attack with eight saves.

Speaking of saves, that is where Richters, the former Wolfpack standout, comes in to play. While he still has ties to the Temecula Valley area, and currently a student and player at Concordia University in Irvine, the past graduate of Great Oak has deep ties to the country of Latvia as well. While the small Baltic country of Latvia has become internationally famous for its volleyball, hockey, and basketball talent, the sport of lacrosse is up and coming in Latvia with Richters saying that players will drive hours for a chance to play at the nearest field.

According to online reports, Richters hails from an athletic Latvian dynasty himself, with his family escaping during World War II, and eventually playing at the highest level all across the country.

Richters’ Latvia team finished 19th after pool play but lost to France in the first round of the placement bracket and eventually played for 21st place. As for the former Southwestern League goalie, Richters had the highest Save Percentage (minimum 200 minutes played) through the tournament at 65.

Team USA’s Blaze Riorden was named to the All-World team as a Goalkeeper. Valley News/David Canales photo

Also noted for their performances during the eleven days of play were USA’s Brennan O’Neill (Best Midfielder; All-World Team), Michael Sowers (Midfield; All-World Team), JT Giles-Harris (Defense; All-World Team), and Blaze Riorden (Goalkeeper; All-World Team).

Final Standings

  1. United States 2. Canada 3. Haudenosaunee 4. Australia 5. Japan 6. England 7. Israel 8. Jamaica 9. Italy 10. Puerto Rico 11. Germany 12. Ireland 13. Hong Kong, China 14. Netherlands 15. Philippines 16. Mexico 17. Scotland 18. France 19. Wales 20. Poland 21. Latvia 22. Peru 23. Czech Republic 24. Sweden 25. New Zealand 26. Korea 27. Switzerland 28. Austria 29. Denmark 30. Uganda

About World Lacrosse

World Lacrosse is the IOC-recognized international governing body for lacrosse, responsible for providing effective leadership and governance of the sport internationally while supporting its continued growth worldwide. WL currently has 86 member federations across all five continental regions. For more information, visit

JP Raineri can be reached by email at