The Lacoka Bantam Locos are this year’s Central Alberta Lacrosse League champions.
After a 7-4 victory over Sylvan Lake on Monday, the Locos secured the gold medal and a spot representing the league at the provincial playoffs in Edmonton next weekend.
Coach Cam Green commented on how the Locos had a successful season this year. They were largely dominant in the league and went into the playoffs heavily favoured to take the championship.
However, most sports enthusiast know that over confidence can be a dangerous thing going into the post-season. Green said that there were a few points that his time may have become a little too confident, but for the most part took on the challenge of playoffs one game at a time.
“For myself, I try to keep a level head,” said Green. “I think for the most part all of our kids did as well.”
While still dominant in playoffs as they had been in the league, the Locos journey to the championship game was not quite a cakewalk.
In their first match, which was against Stettler, Lacoka won easily with a large score margin in a 17-3 game. They received a bit more of a challenge in their next matchup, which was against Blackfalds, winning that game 10-5.
It was Sylvan Lake that truly tested Lacoka’s skills in a true battle spread over three games.
When the teams first met in playoffs, Lacoka narrowly lost a tight game 4-6. Because the league playoffs were done in a double-elimination format, Lacoka was offered a second chance in another match against Sylvan Lake.
When the two teams met again, Lacoka had made some changes to their strategy. A new game plan for the team focused more on defense, something contrary to what Lacoka had done during the regular season. The change in strategy took Sylvan Lake off guard and, along with some encouraging words from the coaching staff, allowed Lacoka to handily defeat Sylvan Lake 13–2.
As that game was Sylvan Lake’s first loss in the playoffs, the two teams would meet once more in a final contest to decide the championship.
Green said it was a hard-fought and close match, but the Locos managed to pull off the victory with a final score of 7-4.
Green commented on the battle between Lacoka and Sylvan Lake, saying he was impressed with how Lacoka’s opponents stepped up. He also commended all the other teams in the playoff tournament for their efforts in the postseason.
“It was the way playoffs should be,” said Green.
During the regular season, Green commented on how the bantam Locos were a strong overall team that is passionate about the sport. That remained true in playoffs and Green said it was probably the team’s biggest strength in the tournament.
“I think the biggest thing for our team is their heart, their desire to succeed,” said Green.
Green also complimented both of the team’s goalies. Goalie Andrew Barnes for his outstanding performance in the final game and goalie Chance Watts for taking a seat on the bench and allowing his older teammate to play in the final for his final year as a bantam.
“They decided that on their own and I thought that was pretty good of them,” said Green.
Now, the Lacoka Bantam Locos look forward to provincial playoffs, which will be held July 4-6th in Edmonton.
Prior to the provincial tournament, the Locos will participate in an international tournament in Calgary this weekend. Green said the team will be competing against team that have longstanding experience and are participating mostly to learn how they can grow as a team and a club.