Defence delivered the gold to Team B.C.’s female midget box lacrosse team last month in Coquitlam.
As hosts of the national championships, B.C. had the perks of familiarity, but what put them over the top, capped by a powerful 8-0 triumph over chief rival Ontario, was its diligence without the ball.
And for those who were part of the team last year, when Ontario took the hardware, nothing could have been sweeter.
“It was three years of silver, so to finally win gold was poetic justice,” remarked coach Matthew Black. “When they stepped out of the dressing room onto the floor they looked more eager and more prepared than (they did) the whole tournament. It was evident that we weren’t going to be denied.”
Netminders Ainslee Rushton and Leona Sinclair shared in the rare shutout, with Rushton, a Prince George native, playing the first two periods when the squad had groomed a 5-0 lead.
The defence made sure that the netminders’ workload was not too taxing.
“Our goal was to work cohesively and consistently on defence. Our players played a uniformed defence that really limited (Ontario’s) chances. We had some great goaltending throughout the week, and they definitely were a big part of the (final) win.”
Seven different players potted goals in the gold medal game.
B.C.’s roster included New West natives Teagan Ng, who scored once and drew an assist in the final, Layla Gould, Taylor Lee and captain Lauren Black, who chalked up a pair of assists. Also contributing were Burnaby’s Ava Regan, who added a goal and an assists, and Emily Kuhn.
They met Ontario in two round-robin contests, where B.C. came away victorious but by closer margins – 5-3 and 5-2.
Their route to the final involved some big wins, outscoring Nova Scotia 25-2 over two games.
In their opening 14-1 win over the Maritimers, Lauren Black scored three times and set up two others. In the team’s 11-1 decision over Nova Scotia, Ng recorded a hat trick. She also netted two goals in the 5-3 victory over Ontario.
Lauren Black finished the tournament with five goals and four assists, while Ng racked up six goals and six assists. Kuhn contributed two goals and two assists.
Ridge Meadows’ Alexa Ford, one of the team’s offensive leaders, was named to the all-star team.
Six members of the team, including Black, Kuhn and Regan, were part of B.C.’s team that competed at the under-19 field lacrosse national tournament earlier in August.
B.C. also proved unstoppable in the female bantam division, rallying to beat Ontario 3-2 for a second-straight gold medal.
A year ago, B.C. also bested Ontario in the final. Five players from that lineup helped lead this year’s squad.
Coquitlam’s Jordan Baxter scored twice in the third period, including the eventual winner with 2:33 left in the period, to lead the offence.
Playing a pivotal role in the team’s successful run at the tourney was New West’s Beth Anderson, who tallied four goals and four assists over eight games.
“(Anderson) was a major part of our win,” remarked head coach Brad Downey. “Even though she’s only played the game for three years, she is a natural athlete with a great release.”
She notched a pair in B.C.’s 8-0 win over Nova Scotia.
The team posted a 6-1 record en route to the final, with the lone setback coming in a 5-4 loss to Ontario.
Boys push Ontario
On the boys side, B.C. was a finalist in all three divisions before settling for silver each time.
The bantam squad fell to Ontario 8-3 in the final, falling behind 5-0 midway through the second period.
New West’s Reid Hinds-MacDonald netted two goals and an assist in the final, and finished the tourney with six goals and five assists.
Burnaby’s Ryden Evers counted a pair of goals and five assists over the seven games, while Jeremy Launt, also of Burnaby, netted a goal and three helpers.
B.C.’s midget boys marched all the way to the final before suffering a 12-7 loss to the visiting Ontario team.
Captained by Burnaby’s Jordan Gabriele and with netminder Marc Russell-Rippberger, the squad posted an unbeaten record all the way until the showdown with Ontario.
In pool play the two teams battled to a 6-6 draw, with Gabriele chipping in a goal and an assist. He would finish the tourney with six goals and three assists.
B.C. also fell 10-3 to Ontario in the peewee final.