Following a weekend performance that could only be described as dominant, five West Shore athletes and the rest of their Vancouver Island teammates returned from Abbotsford with B.C. Summer Games gold in field lacrosse.
Casey Wilson and Matthew Atkinson from Langford, Brodie Strugnell and Jacob Mellish from Metchosin, and Seve Cordero from View Royal were among the contingent that brought hardware back to the Island.
In their first contest, the Vancouver Island-Central Coast (Zone 6) squad roared out of the gates with a 21-1 win over Cariboo-North East that set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
Next, coach Brian Spaven’s group had their closest encounter of the entire tournament, squeaking past Fraser River by an 8-6 count.
“We didn’t show up to play and sort of struggled a bit out of the gate,” Spaven noted. “But the kids gathered their composure and we were able to win … they were a solid team.”
The boys hit their stride in time for the knockout round, as the games started to matter the most.
They took out Vancouver-Coastal by a 22-2 count before besting Fraser River again – this time by a much more comfortable 14-3 margin – to take the top spot on the podium.
In the gold medal game, the Island team came flying out of the gates before hitting a bit of a wall after the game’s midway point.
“We fell asleep a little bit,” 14-year-old Isaac Swan recalled, adding that they gave up a few goals with a crew of three boys looking on from the penalty box.
They quickly bounced back from that setback and cruised to victory from there.
“We started focusing again and just didn’t let them catch up,” Swan said.
The gold medal game was a culmination of the team’s collective efforts over the weekend and stood as the club’s most complete game of the tournament.
“Our transition was just amazing and our defence played excellent. They did everything that I asked for,” Spaven said.
In blowout matchups it can be difficult to keep a group of young 13 and 14-year-olds focused on the task at hand, but Spaven says his group stayed mentally strong even when up by significant totals.
“I just told them to stay within our plan … working on plays and working on game things so we can get up for the next game,” Spaven explained.
Spaven held a handful of practices with his team prior to the Games, but all of the boys were already familiar with one another, having played either with or against each other in the past.
Cordero, a forward, and Swan, a midfielder from Sooke, believe that the team’s success was partly the result of the chemistry and the established rapport they had with each other. Often, the players were able to anticipate exactly what their teammates were thinking, giving them a significant advantage over the competition across all facets of the game.
“We can kind of tell what the other guy’s going to do before he does it,” Cordero said.
“We know how each other plays and we can expect what each other’s going to do and know where they’re going to be,” Swan agreed.
As the final minutes ticked away and it became clear that they were taking home gold, the excitement set in for a young group that’s already mature enough to recognize that wins like this don’t come around every day.
“It was exciting, it doesn’t happen a lot so you’re kind of pumped when it does,” Swan said.
“It was pretty fun hanging with the team all week and just playing lacrosse,” Cordero reflected.