Expecting a battle, the Wallaceburg Novice Griffins put on their face paint at the Ontario Lacrosse Association championships.
“The kids responded by playing like little warriors,” head coach Jamie Knight wrote to The Daily News.
The Novice Griffins beat Brampton 9-4 in the provincial 'D' final Sunday in Whitby.
Their gold medal was the third in a week for the Wallaceburg Minor Lacrosse Association.
The Peewee 'B' and Bantam 'D' Griffins won provincial titles the previous weekend.
The golds are the first for Wallaceburg since the bantam 'B' team won back-to-back banners in 2007 and '08.
“It's really hard to win,” WMLA president Chris Dawson said. “The stars aligned this year.”
Wallaceburg is the only association to win three Ontario banners this year. This is also the first time Wallaceburg won three provincial titles in the same year.
“For one of the smaller organizations, this is a fantastic accomplishment,” Dawson said. “For most players, they will never experience a provincial gold, and to bring home three this year was truly an outstanding effort by the local lacrosse players.”
He praised the joint effort by the three groups under the Wallaceburg Lacrosse umbrella. The Wallaceburg Minor Lacrosse Association handles box lacrosse, Wallaceburg Field Lacrosse offers teams in the fall and spring, and the junior 'B' Wallaceburg Red Devils help run an annual winter camp.
“We've had kids basically playing lacrosse 12 months a year rather than a couple months in the summer,” Dawson said.
NOVICES WIN GOLD
Goalie Morgan Gorry allowed only 12 goals in three playoff wins and made several big saves for the Novice Griffins, who were 5-1 overall at the tournament.
“It was a team effort,” Knight said. “Our goal was to get better every game and practice, and peak at the right time.
“The kids deserve all the credit, they worked extremely hard.”
Canton Verstraeten scored four goals in the gold-medal game. Ty Myers and Mason Myers-Whiteye each added two and Aiden Cole had one.
Myers led the Griffins with two goals in a 6-4 semifinal win over Sun County. Whiteye had a goal and four assists, and Verstraeten, Hunter Dalgety and Hunter Shepley also scored.
Whiteye potted six goals and Verstraeten added two in an 8-4 quarter-final win over Arthur.
The Griffins were 2-1 in the round-robin, starting with a 6-4 win over Burlington. Whiteye had four goals, Cole and Liam Johnston also scored, and Myers had three assists.
Myers, Shepley and Jackson Oliver each scored twice to beat Clarington 11-5. Verstraeten, Braxton Anderson, Kyle Bechard and Ian Corkum also tallied.
Myers, Whiteye and Johnston each had two goals and Kyle Bechard had one in an 8-7 loss to Brampton.