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Division I: Play-off Report

11/07/2012, 8:15pm EST
By Mark Schuetzkowski

It was wet and it was cold. It wasn’t exactly the weather we were hoping for on the 2012 OJMFLL Championship Day on Sunday, October 28 at the Civic Fields in Oshawa; but in true Canadian fashion, everyone toughed it out and we saw some of the most exciting lacrosse of the season.

The day started off with a couple of qualifying games to get to the Semi’s in Division 1. Oshawa (3rd seed) squared off against Halton Hills (6th seed) and jumped out to a 4-zip lead before the first quarter was over on route to a 12-3 win. Austin Shanks led the scorers with 4 goals and 3 assists for the hometown Blue Knights.
The second qualifier game in DI saw upstart London (4th seed) take on the Hamilton Bengals (5th seed). London came out working the ball around on offense and maintained control of the clock for a majority of the game. These two evenly matched squads traded goals and leads throughout the game, but it was Wati Feliciano’s game winning goal with 3:45 left in the 4th that was the difference in this nail-biter. Final score: 8-7 for London.
The semi-finals were set. Oshawa was up against 4-time defending champs Niagara Raiders, and London was set to face the top seeded Orangeville Generals.
The Niagara – Oshawa tilt started off a very spirited affair with an incredible amount of energy and bravado brought to the turf for this one. Oshawa jumped out to a quick start, much as they did in their first game of the day and held a 4-1 lead after the first quarter and looked well in control of this game with seemingly everything going their way. It certainly appeared that Niagara’s streak was about to end before their title defense really got started. The Raiders were just getting warmed up though and bounced back to a tie game by half time with a 5 all score. The gang in green and orange continued to ride this momentum into the second half and totally dominated the scoreboard to finish off with a trip to the finals on the strength of a 10-6 victory. Eric Fannell led all scorers in this one with 4 goals and 3 assists for the Niagara Raiders.
David and Goliath…..errr…..London and Orangeville provided the other semi-final game match-up. The Jr. Stangs were ready and poised to continue their Cinderella run against the undefeated Generals as they held leads of 6-4 at half and 8-6 early in the fourth. Everything was lining up for London on this day to cap off a very successful season for this squad. Every bounce seemed to be going their way, but the Gennies were not about to let their own storybook story get shoved aside on this day as they went on the attack to regain momentum of this game. They knew if they could get that momentum swinging their way, it would be very difficult for their opponents to get it back. So that’s exactly what they did - get the momentum back, and keep it. Jamie Henrick popped in his 2nd of the game with 11:38 left in the 4th to start the run and get the generals within one. Orangeville went on to score 3 more unanswered goals with Joel Coyle’s tying goal with 10:15 left in the fourth before Henrick bulged the twine a couple more times at 6:42 and 4:25 remaining to seal the win for Orangeville and leave London only dreaming of what could have been. Final score: 10-8 for Orangeville.
It was only fitting that the top two seeded teams of the regular season found their way to the DI Championship game, and what a stage they set under the Sunday Night Lights. Four-peat defending champs looking to continue their dynasty against the undefeated, top seeded ‘challengers’ to the throne. Niagara once again came out flat and quickly found themselves down 3-1 after the 1st, and 6-2 at half thanks to a pair of goals each by Generals Brandon Slade and Ryan Johnston. Singles in the first half for the Generals went to Jamie McMahon and Jamie Henrick, and to Charlie Sheehan and Eric Fannell for Niagara. With Orangeville’s potential for ball control and ability to score the timely goal, the game looked well in hand and a new champion would be crowned. With both teams feeling each other out in the start fo the second half, it was Brooker Muir of Niagara who started a 4-0 run for Niagara in the 3rd quarter with Marcus Butters popping in one and Fannell with two in the quarter to give us a new game with the score tied 6-6 to heading into the final quarter. Evan Scott made it a five goal run for the defending champs early in the 4th. With momentum clearly on their side, getting their thumbs sized for a 5th ring was surely being penciled into their agendas in the near future. It wasn’t until the 8:25 mark of the 4th that Orangeville finally found the back of the net and a little bit of life with Todd Greer hitting the score sheet. Result: tie game, 7-7, with 6:35 to go. The drama was building. The sticks were gripped a little tighter. The tension was mounting. Mistakes would surely come back to bite you in the butt at the worst possible moment. Then it happened – an untimely turnover with about 30 seconds to go gave the ball to Orangeville in their own zone. With the Raiders desperately trying to pin the Gennies in their own end, or better yet, get the ball back, Orangeville managed to get the ball over half and get a key time-out with 20 seconds left on the clock. After 90 seconds of each coaching staff putting together their best chess moves, the play was ready to be blown in. Orangeville working the ball around got it to Henrick at left attack and with a quick dodge towards the net tucked the ball and the game away for the Orangeville Generals with a mere 2 seconds left on the clock.  Outstanding goaltending at each end by winning goalie Nick Fournier and Doug Buchan for the Raiders displayed the true craftsmanship of their respective positions as well. Final score 8-7. Congratulations Orangeville Generals, you are the new OJMFLL Division I Champions.

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