They’re only nine and 10 years old, but James Morgan sees plenty of promise in his latest lacrosse team to enjoy success.
The head coach of the Juan de Fuca novice A1 all stars, who has spent 23 years behind the bench coaching at various levels in the sport, called the collection of players who came home from Burnaby with the coveted Jack Crosby Memorial trophy in their grasp “one of the best and most cohesive groups I have had.”
The team went 6-0 overall at the Crosby tournament, considered by many to be the B.C. championships for the novice division in the absence of a Lacrosse B.C. provincials. The clincher was a 13-5 victory over the Coquitlam Adanacs in Sunday’s gold medal final.
“It’s so rare to have a group that listens so well and responds to what you’re trying to teach them,” Morgan said, adding the team is a “very businesslike and very talented group.”
Not only did their win mark the first time a Juan de Fuca team had ever captured the A1 division in the tournament, Island teams took all three divisions, with Saanich winning the Tier 2 title and Victoria-Esquimalt taking the Tier 3 crown.
Juan de Fuca reeled off four straight wins in the round robin portion of the weekend and received a bye to the semifinals, where they knocked off Burnaby 10-4 in a rough game.
Scoring a lopsided win in the final over the vaunted Adanacs – “it’s always good to beat Coquitlam,” Morgan said – illustrated just how much the players learned over the course of the season, he said.
“We taught these kids the same things that the Shamrocks run,” he said, noting the team was fortunate to have former Shamrock Grant Hamilton helping coach, along with Duane Corbin and Marc Lavoie.
“They’re just a pretty exceptional group of kids that are so coachable and took in everything they were told and worked hard all the time.”
The players were drawn from the two Juan de Fuca A2 league teams. They included Dawson Wade, Dylan Anderson, Grady Sluggett, Jakob Fikowski, Jett Klassen, Josh Morgan, Karson Corbin, Keegan Lindsay, Luke Reinhart, Maxime Lavoie, Oliver Josephson, Owen Danyluk, Ronin London, Seth Fryer, Tyler York and goaltender Grayson Manning.