Monday’s provincial championship win was a sweet reward for Victoria Shamrocks intermediate ‘A’ lacrosse head coach Tim Dennett and his staff.
A 14-7 victory over New Westminster gave the Shamrocks the gold at the George Preston Recreation Centre in Langley, and culminated years of hard work and enduring a little frustration.
“Some of these kids, my brother (assistant coach Terry Dennett) and I have worked with them for five and six years,” he said.
After the Shamrocks lost the gold medal game last year, he said, “the kids wanted to start right away working out and getting ready for next season.”
The hard work at practice and the extra conditioning off the floor paid off, as the Shamrocks outlasted the Salmonbellies in the B.C. final.
They built a 4-0 early and extended that to 5-2 before New West regrouped and tied it up at six. Rather than fold their tents and let the mainland squad maintain their momentum, the Shamrocks dug deep, Dennett said.
“We’ve got a lot of second-year guys and we believe in ourselves,” he said. “We took a deep breath, got to 9-6 and then shut the door.”
After Victoria scored twice more in the third to open up a five-goal lead, New West pulled their goalie. The Shamrocks, led by Spencer Erwin, who was named the tournament’s top goaltender, were solid defensively and gave little in the way of opportunities.
“(Irwin) stood on his head. The kid was unbelievable, he was very calm, handled the ball well made the big saves when we needed them,” Dennett said.
Among other leaders for the team were tournament most valuable player Eddie Smith, whose brilliant backhand goal with 10 minutes left in the third broke the Salmonbellies’ backs and made it 12-6; captain Marshal King, who led all goal scorers in the playoffs and earned a first all-star team nod; and David Byrne, who was also named a tournament all-star.
The Shamrocks, New Westminster and Coquitlam each went 2-1 in round robin play, with Victoria’s wins coming over New West (9-4) and Langley (18-7). Coquitlam beat the ‘Rocks 9-7 in the opener last Friday.
The top two teams qualified for the final, with the Shamrocks finishing first based on goal differential.
The tight standings in the provincial tournament mirrored the regular season, when Coquitlam finished on top with a 15-3 record and Victoria, New West and Port Coquitlam tying for second with 14-4 marks.