Victoria Shamrocks look to next season after weekend losses in WLA semifinal

Victoria Shamrocks players salute the crowd at The Q Centre in Colwood on Sunday after being eliminated from the Western Lacrosse Association semifinals with a 15-10 loss in game 6 to the Langley Thunder. (Victoria Shamrocks/Twitter)Victoria Shamrocks players salute the crowd at The Q Centre in Colwood on Sunday after being eliminated from the Western Lacrosse Association semifinals with a 15-10 loss in game 6 to the Langley Thunder. (Victoria Shamrocks/Twitter)

The Victoria Shamrocks’ hopes of repeating as Western Lacrosse Association champions were snuffed out Sunday (Aug. 14) in front of a home crowd at The Q Centre in Colwood.

Facing a must-win situation in game 6 of their semifinal against the Langley Thunder, the Shamrocks lost a hard-fought 15-10 decision and the series four games to two.

The loss ended the ‘Rocks chances of winning back-to-back titles – their previous championship win came in 2019, the last time a WLA season was played. The Thunder had taken a 3-2 series lead with a 10-8 win on home floor Saturday night.

While the Thunder trailed for only 2:13 of the game, after Jacob Ruest scored his first of three goals for the Shamrocks in the opening frame, Victoria kept it close throughout.

Shamrock veteran Jesse King’s fourth of the game made it 12-10 Langley with 5:32 left in the third, but the Thunder broke away with three straight goals to secure their spot in the WLA Finals. They’ll take on the Nanaimo Timbermen starting Friday in Langley.

The Shamrocks started strong, firing 26 shots at Thunder goalie and eventual first star Frank Scigliano in the first period. The visitors quickly responded to Ruest’s opener with goals from Noah Armitage and Keegan Bell 88 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead.

The first period set the tone for the rest of the game as the score was tied five different times. Dallas Wade and Brad McCulley also scored for the ‘Rocks as the teams went into the first intermission tied at 5-5.

Langley’s Connor Robertson beat Victoria netminder Colin Jeffery 42 seconds into the middle frame, but King responded less than two minutes later to make it 6-6. The offensive pace didn’t keep up though as both teams knuckled down on defence.

Down 8-6 after back-to-back goals from Langley’s Chase Scanlan late in the period, the Shamrocks pulled within one when King finished off a passing play from Marshall King and Chris Wardle with three seconds left and Jeffery pulled for a extra attacker.

The back-and-forth affair continued in the third, with the teams trading goals five times and the Thunder holding an 11-9 lead by the 6:43 mark. Dane Dobbie gave the visitors their largest lead to that point, 12-9, with a goal at the 10:01 mark and the Thunder tightened up on defence.

King’s last of the game, from Ruest and Marshall King, came with the goalie pulled and an extra attacker on the floor. As if to stamp out any comeback hopes, Dobbie scored unassisted five seconds later to restore the three-goal margin.

In a statement, the Shamrocks management said they would “forever be proud to have the best fans in the WLA.” The players raised their sticks to salute those among the 1,528 fans in attendance who remained after the game, who gave them a standing ovation in turn.

READ MORE: Lacrosse title on the line as Victoria Junior ‘A’ Shamrocks compete for Minto Cup

READ MORE: Victoria Shamrocks call on fans to fill Q Centre for game 6 of semifinals


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