The Ohsweken Aces — a team of players from Six Nations — won its third straight Iroquois Nations Cup title Sunday evening with a 17-10 win over the Snake Island Muskies at the A`nowara`ko:wa Arena (aka the Turtle Dome) on Cornwall Island.
Bringing teams from each of the Iroquois reservations across the Northeast and beyond, the Nations Cup features players of all ages competing for their respective home tribe. This year’s event was hosted by the Mohawk Nation and held on Akwesasne, a territory that straddles the St. Lawrence River and between Ontario and northern New York.
Advertised as some of the fastest and most intense lacrosse played today, the Nations Cup final looked like a track meet from the start, with many scores coming off exciting transition plays and a handful of highlight-reel goals.
Some of those came in the first period, as Ohsweken worked its way to a 6-3 lead by intermission. The crowd responded passionately to Musky Lee Thomas’ goal while falling down at 9:24 to make it 2-2. Perhaps the most memorable goal, though, was the Aces’ Stu Hill rolling a pass inside to a cutting Chris Attwood, who scooped and scored in one quick motion.
In the second period, the Muskies came out hot, scoring three goals in the first 1:58 of play, including back-to-back tallies from Andrew Lazore, to tie the game at 6-6.
But the Aces stopped the bleeding with a serious run of their own, sparked by Marty Hill’s goal in transition at 15:51 and then Wayne Van Every’s lefty rip off a rebound and redirect less than 30 seconds later.
Those two goals were the first of five consecutive from Ohsweken. Attwood, the Aces’ game MVP with three goals and two assists, finished a gorgeous reaching right-handed dunk to make it 10-6 at 12:39, and then NLL star Cody Jamieson found Rochester Knighthawks teammates Craig Point inside for an easy finish at 12:11.
Snake Island got back on the board when Hank Delisle — who helped lead Onondaga Community College to a junior college title this year — slipped a pass down to Joe Hall, who slipped a shot into the top left corner, making the score 11-7. The teams exchanged goals before the end of the second period, with the Aces still in control 12-8 heading into the third.
The Aces made the Muskies pay for a penalty 3:42 into the third, with Jamieson finding Roger Vyse to make it 13-8.
Really having to pick their spots on Ohsweken’s Warren Hill, who starred recently at the FIL U-19 World Championships for the Iroquois Nationals, the Muskies’ shooters had a long day.
But Delisle placed a bounce shot just in front of Hill’s left foot, kicking up over his shoulder at 15:03 to close the gap to 13-9. A minute later, Hill made a terrific split save on Hall, but the ball kicked off his right foot, and right back into the stick of Hall, who put it in the net to make it a 13-10 game.
However, that would be as close as the Muskies would get. Ohsweken rattled off the next four goals, keeping Snake Island off the scoreboard in the process.
“It’s a good weekend for everybody to get their last bit of lacrosse in at the end of the season,” Aces head coach Stew Monture said of the Nations Cup. “However their summer season turned out, it’s a good way to finish it out.”
With fathers and sons having the opportunity to play with one another on the same team — including Cam Bomberry and his son Jake, members of the Aces — the event provides something that Monture says other leagues or venues cannot.
“In any league, that might be a rarity, but that’s pretty special for guys to play with older or younger fellas.”
As an annual event, Monture said the weekend event offers a chance for the players from different tribes to spend time together but also compete on the floor for pride.
“Six Nations, Akwesasne, all these places are lacrosse hotbeds, and there’s basically a never ending supply of lacrosse players there,” he said. “We’ve got friends in all the different reserves. It’s good to catch up and cross paths every year and we look forward to it.
The Aces were led by Attwood’s 3G/2A. Other contributors were Jamieson (2G/3A), Craig Point (1G/4A), Wayne Vanevery (2G/3A) and Roger Vyse (2G/3A). Kedoh Hill and Marty Hill each finished with 2G/1A.
For Snake Island, Lee Thomas (2G/2A), Hank Delisle (2G/1A), Andrew Lazore (2G/1A), Shane Francis (1G/2A) and Joe Hall (2G) led the scoring.
Finishing the play-in rounds at 2-0-1, the Aces tied the Kahnawake Mohawks 14-14 on Saturday. But the Aces won the semi-final matchup with their Six Nations counterpart, the Frog Pond Maulers, in a 14-13 battle to advance to the gold-medal contest. The Muskies defeated the St. Regis Indians 10-7 in the other semifinal to move on to the gold-medal game.
Kedoh Hill – Major Series Lacrosse’s 2012 Rookie of the Year — and Roger Vyse tied as the tourney’s leading scorers, with 11G/13A and 12G/12A, respectively.
You can see the full tournament results on the Nations Cup website, including box scores and stat leaders.
Be sure to check ILGear.com in the coming days for a sights and sounds post, with pictures of gear, apparel and general sights from the event.
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