Badgers fall short at lacrosse national championship

ANDREW MELOFF

Credit: Go Badgers

Credit: Go Badgers

The two-time reigning champions Guelph Gryphons defeated the top seeded Brock Badgers 13-12 in the Baggataway Cup semi-finals. Guelph upset Brock in the last game of the regular season, which ended the Badgers’ bid for an undefeated campaign. Without a doubt the 12-2 season is a disappointment for coach Kennedy’s squad as the six-year championship drought continues at Brock.

Scoring goals in bunches was a theme throughout the entirety of the game. Transition offense was mostly nonexistent as both teams tended to stress possession while in the attacking zone. Brock’s offense was extremely successful when all-Canadian Brandon Staal quarterbacked the Badgers’ offense from behind the net, opening up cutting lanes towards the goal. Guelph’s defense clamped down on opportunities from the slot shutting down normal contributor Greg Davidson as long pole Nicholas Wordtmann shadowed Davidson in the offensive zone.

Like a heavyweight tilt, the two teams exchanged body blows throughout the game, but Guelph delivered the knockout punch in the final minutes. Guelph coach Sam Kosakowski continued his game plan of attacking Mark Debrone in the defensive zone, resulting in the tying and winning goals by Brett Ulbikas from the left zone 10 yards from the net. Brock battled back with a possession of their own in the final minute of the game, again running the offense through Staal behind the net. Unfortunately, Guelph goaltender Michael Lalani made three clutch saves to seal the victory.

Brock was in control for the most part in six on six action, however penalties were a major issue. Mark Debrone struggled with penalty trouble and Guelph capitalized on their man up opportunities scoring their third, seventh, and eighth goals while on the power play. Dual penalties to Ryan Jones and Mark Debrone with the Badgers up 8-6 was a turning point in the game. Instead of building upon their lead, Brock gave up two quick goals. Notably freshman standout goaltender Ryan Jones was forced to leave the pipes for the duration of his minute-long penalty and back up Ryan Avbar came into the net to face the dangerous Guelph power play.  The momentum for the Badgers staled, allowing Guelph to stay in the game. Mike Burke was the Achilles heel for the Badgers defense scoring 5 of the Gryphons 13 goals.

Sideline reporter Pat Gregoire noted that the high winds during the match impacted the way the game was played.  Stretch passes and transition offense struggled due to the poor reliability of the weather. While the wind didn’t play too much of a role in the actual trajectory or accuracy of the ball, it played a role in decisions about stretch passes.

Guelph faced off with the undefeated McGill Redmen in the CUFLA championships the following day winning 15-12.  The Gryphons controlled the game from start to finish and added an exclamation point to their 2014 season.

For the Badgers, 2014 ended the same way 2013 did. Nine times out of ten Brock beats Guelph, however this one playoff game playoff proved costly for the Badgers.

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