The field lacrosse First Nations Cup to determine the top provincial program for the Under-15 (U-15) age group in Canada was held in Oshawa, Ont. from August 30 to September 2.
The Team Saskatchewan U-15 team was assembled in late June at a tryout in Regina, said Joe LaPrairie, head coach. Four players from Canora and the surrounding area came through the tryouts and made the 23-player team: Shae Peterson of Sturgis, Tomas Hauber of Canora (goalie), Jacob Danyluk of Canora, and Toby Olynyk of Buchanan.
“The selection was an exciting time for these young athletes and the players quickly learned that the work was just getting started,” said LaPrairie. “Through July and August, the team met up on many hot and muggy weekends to participate in grueling two-a-day practices that involved skills development and a competitive atmosphere. The opportunity to travel to Winnipeg for a pair of exhibition games against Team Manitoba allowed the team to gel and understand their systems.”
Team Saskatchewan returned home after splitting it’s two games on the road. As the tournament approached, the team felt prepared to “make some noise” going into the Labor Day weekend.
At the First Nations Cup, the Team Saskatchewan U-15 program experienced a rollercoaster of a tournament.
“On opening day we dropped our first game by a score of 12 to 4 to Team Alberta, followed by a 21 to 0 loss to the eventual gold medalists, Team Ontario,” said LaPrairie.
It was day two that would decide Team Saskatchewan’s fate. The matchups on the schedule were: Team Manitoba, Team Prince Edward Island, and Team Quebec.
“The coaching staff and players understood they needed to finish the day undefeated to play in a medal game,” said LaPrairie. “The tall task began against a familiar foe in Team Manitoba. The first half was a back-and-forth affair. It was the second half where Team Manitoba pulled ahead by a score of 7 to 3. Cue the comeback as Saskatchewan rattled off four straight goals to tie the game before the end of regulation time.
“The overtimes that took place were similar to the beginning of the game, going back and forth. Through all the tension, it was a game winning goal in quadruple overtime that cemented Team Saskatchewan’s first win of the tournament.”
With little time to celebrate Team Saskatchewan was on the field in less than two hours for game number two of the day. This game had a much different look as Team Saskatchewan easily slid past Team P.E.I by a score of 9-2.
There was a lot on the line as Team Saskatchewan prepared for its third and final game of the day.
“The opportunity to play in the bronze medal game went through Team Quebec,” said LaPrairie. “Our boys appeared to be caught off guard when Quebec went up 4 to 0 to close the first half of play. Team Saskatchewan went to work and battled back with five goals of its own in the second half. Unfortunately for our prairie boys, it was La Belle Province that would score a pair of goals to finish the score at 6-5 for Quebec.”
The next day Saskatchewan’s final game was a spirited affair, but ended in a 15 to 2 loss to Team B.C.
“With that result, Team Saskatchewan placed fifth out of the seven-team field with a record of two wins and four losses,” said LaPrairie. “The result for Team Saskatchewan is a strong step forward for the program as field lacrosse continues to gain momentum in the Saskatchewan sport landscape.”