All seven teams in the Western Lacrosse Association are still alive as we round the final quarter pole of this sprint to the finish. Langley and Victoria still stand atop the mountain, however the two teams are painting different landscapes as everyone battles for the right to host the 2013 Mann Cup. Langley has won three straight and is looking much like the team that has won the past two WLA titles. Conversely, the Shamrocks seem to be struggling with the newest additions and play a perfect Jekyll and Hyde. They will play smash mouth lacrosse Friday night in Victoria, which could be a WLA finals preview and will be a great measuring stick for both teams.
Third through seventh places are separated by just six points and those five teams will faceoff against each other as they look to leap frog for a chance for post season glory. Who will grab the ball and take control of things out west?
1 Langley Thunder (1) 8-3-2
Last Week: W13-12 Maple Ridge
This Week: @ Victoria, @ Nanaimo
A marquee matchup tonight on the island as the Thunder and Shamrocks battle it out for first place in the WLA. Langley is starting to hit its stride and with a wealth of talent throughout the roster, it is starting to flex its muscles out west. The best part about the Thunder is that everyone is buying into the system and is playing very strong lacrosse.
2 Burnaby (2) 7-6
Last Week: W10-8 Victoria, W10-7 New West
This Week: vs. Coquitlam
Can the Lakers continue their impressive play as of late? There’s no signs of them slowing down as they make a serious push for a top seed in the post-season. They may not catch Victoria or Langley, but in their final five games, they only pay one team with a better record then they do. The duo of Scott Jones and Dane Stevens is becoming a top 1-2 punch but they are full of depth and youth on both sides of that ball that’s making them a top contender. Oh, and they’ve already won the season series against both Victoria and Langley.
3 Victoria Shamrocks (3) 9-5
Last Week: W13-9 Coquitlam, L13-12 New West
This Week: vs. Langley
Inconsistency has once again cost the Shamrocks a chance to move out in front of the pack. They haven’t won back-to-back games in more than a month and it has to be a little worrying for HC Bob Heyes. A huge game Friday night against the Thunder and with a win at home, they would take the season series, which will be huge come playoff time.
4 Maple Ridge (4) 7-6
Last Week: W11-10 Nanaimo, L13-12 Langley
This Week: @ Coquitlam, vs. Nanaimo
Two one-goal games against a top and bottom team sort of clouds the air around the Burrards. They are one of the most dynamic teams in the WLA but as we’ve seen from so many this year, hot and cold performances could cost this team moving forward. Curtis Dickson scored the game-winner against Nanaimo as they earned a hard-fought two points. But giving up five goals in the third against Langley to lose the game has to sting.
5 New Westminster (7) 5-8-1
Last Week: W13-12 Victoria
This Week: vs. Burnaby
Go through the Bellies roster and pick a guy most likely to score the game-winner against the Shamrocks … does Kyle Ross’ name stand out? Not usually when it comes to goal scoring but Rosco did just that Thursday night. Neil Tyacke may garner some MVP votes as he’s been a huge positive for GM Dan Richardson as they’ve played 95% of year with out Tyler Richards.
6 Coquitlam (5) 4-7-1
Last Week: L13-9 Victoria
This Week: @ Burnaby, vs. Maple Ridge.
It’s not unthinkable to see the Adanacs make a return to the post-season but they’re definitely going to need to raise their game play in the final third of the season. Lucky for them, they don’t have to play Victoria or Langley any more and if they can put a string of wins together, could push for that 4th seed.
6 Nanaimo (6) 4-9
Last Week: L11-10 Maple Ridge
This Week: vs. Langley, @ Maple Ridge
The Tmen continue to push teams into deep waters and that has to be a positive moving forward for this young team looking to find its way. They’ll face a tired Thunder squad Saturday, then get a chance for some redemption against the Burrards on Sunday. They aren’t mathematically eliminated yet so a couple big wins could add some positive momentum.
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