The Whitby Warriors scored 10 goals in the second period of Thursday’s Game 5, and lost. They scored 11 goals in the third period of Friday’s Game 6, and won. Then they scored 8 goals in all of Game 7, and won. That doesn’t really prove anything other than the up-and-down world lacrosse players and their fans live in. And today, the Whitby Warriors are on the up side of that roller coaster, celebrating last night’s Game 7 win, 9-8, over the Six Nations Arrows that sends the Warriors to their third straight Minto Cup as Ontario’s rep. The Warriors trailed the series, 3-2, and played 2 games on the brink of elimination. They kept their composure and when Michael MacDonald scored the goals that tied last night’s game, then won it, the Warriors could finally breathe out.
Whitby packs its bags for the Minto Cup, which starts on Saturday, in New Westminster, B.C., thanks to a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the Warriors won 4 games in the best-of-7 series. They did it with an offense that’s not especially overpowering, but is efficient and timely. The defense, however, is a different story.
Anchored by goalie Alexis Buque, the Warriors reflect clearly the philosophy of coach Derek Keenan, whose emphasis on defense in the National Lacrosse League took the Edmonton Rush from doormat to title contender. For the Warriors, Buque has been steady all season and his microscopic numbers after sweeps in the first 2 playoff rounds served notice. But in the finals, the mighty offense of Six Nations promised a test.
And it was a test the Warriors got. They were tested, bent and twisted, but they did not break. And in giving up just 7.9 goals per game, the Warriors were at least 2 goals better than every other Ontario playoff team in that department. A stat like that might be open to interpretation, but this one isn’t: A Six Nations power play that led Ontario at 36% during the regular season was held to 10% (3-for-29) in the series against Whitby.
Coaches often say games come down to defense, or special teams. The Whitby Warriors have both, and both will no doubt be on display come this weekend, when the Minto Cup competition kicks off.
Victoria 10, Burnaby 7 (box score), Victoria wins series, 4-0
Ontario Junior A finals
Whitby 9, Six Nations 8 (box score), Whitby wins series, 4-3
Coquitlam 15 New Westminster 11 (box score), Coquitlam wins series, 3-2
Ontario Junior B finals
Six Nations 6, Green Gaels 4 (box score), Six Nations leads series, 2-0
QSLL Senior B playoffs
Kahnawake 9, Capital Region 7 (box score), Kahnawake leads series, 2-0
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