There was one bump on the road for the Lacoka midget Locos lacrosse squad, but it was more like a pothole on the way to the team’s perfect season.
The Locos captured the Midget B Alberta Lacrosse Association provincial championship in Calgary July 15, without suffering a defeat all season. The Locos opened up the tournament with a 15-5 win over Brooks followed by victories over Wainwright (13-1) and Rockyview (15-4) before getting by Lethbridge 12-8 in the final
In fact, the Locos weren’t really tested all season until they faced Lethbridge and even that score was closer than what the game actually was.
“Going into provincials,we knew we would be strong, but you just never know. we looked at the stats of the other teams and when possible, went to their games to see how they played and to look for weaknesses,” explained head coach Gordon Kirbyson, whose club went 17-0 in the regular season and swept all five playoff games.
“Teams at provincials did give us more of a challenge, but most ended with a 10 goal spread.”
However, facing Lethbridge was an eye-opener for the team in the first period.
“It was a battle, not knowing what would happen,” Kirbyson stated.
“However, the boys kicked it into high gear in the second and pulled out a six goal lead.”
From there, the Locos went into virtual lock down mode defensively and were able to contain Lethbridge for the rest of the game.
“We controlled the floor and played some serious defence, keeping Lethbridge at bay and using the clock to our advantage.”
There was one other Lacoka squad that made the playoffs at provincials, though the club fell in the PeeWee C division semi-final.
In the round robin, the club managed a pair of 6-2 wins over Grande Prairie and the Calgary Axemen then lost 8-6 to the Calgary Hornets to hand them second in their pool. However, that pitted them against Vermillion, where they fell 12-3. Vermillion went on to win the championship over Innisfail.
For head coach Alex Wyse, the fact the kids made it that far was excellent considering the challenges the team had from the start.
“We had a significant challenge with this group because over half of our team had never even touched a lacrosse stick,” Wyse said, noting only three of the club’s second year players had even played the game before.
“Our season long goal was not to win, but rather to grow the game. I wanted the kids to develop a love for the sport and to see as many players come back next season as possible. I feel we were successful as throughout the season, our players and team improved every week and most importantly I truly believe that the kids had fun.”
Wyse was excited about the new provincial format, which saw clubs play against similarly ranked teams from around the province. The Locos were definite underdogs, he added, but played their best games of the season in Calgary.
“Quite honestly, I probably had more fun coaching the Lacoka Peewee lacrosse team this year than I have had coaching any other year,” Wyse said.
“I can’t express how proud I am of these players.”
Both bantam Locos clubs were also at the provincial tournament, though weren’t able to make the playoffs.
The bantam squad coached by Trevor Feragen, playing in the ‘B’ division, wound up losing all three round robin games. They opened things up with an 8-1 loss to Fort Saskatchewan then a pair of close loses to the Calgary Axemen (8-6) and to Spruce Grove (10-7).
The other club, coached by Wayne Wood, played in the ‘C’ division and managed a victory 6-3 over the Calgary Sabrecats. However, the club lost 8-7 to Innisfail and 7-5 to Bonnyville to knock them out of playoff contention.