It wasn’t pretty, but they’ll take it.
The Varsity Blues men’s lacrosse team played host to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday night at Varsity Stadium, pulling out a 17–11 victory.
Characterized by sloppy play and mental errors, the game proved to be a back-and-forth affair until the fourth quarter, when six unanswered Blues goals stifled any hopes of a Hawks upset. The final frame saw the Blues focus, execute, and force turnovers, which marked a significant shift from the first three periods of action in which they struggled to rebut Laurier’s uncharacteristically chippy play.
The first half saw the lead change hands seven times, and the Blues claimed a small 7–6 advantage heading into the break. Jackson Hickey’s goal in the second quarter proved impressive, as he took a feed from Jason Barnable and found the back of the net while being knocked flat to the ground by a Hawks defender, drawing a penalty on the play as well.
Laurier opened the third quarter on a mission as they managed to score two straight goals and take a 9–8 lead just five minutes into the period. However, the Blues responded with solid defense, as Davis Bottomley’s strip of a Laurier player at the 12-minute mark led to a Darren Elliott goal from Nick Pison a minute later.
Shortly thereafter, AJ Masson’s goal off an offensive rebound was waved off, but he would not be deterred, stripping the Hawks’ goalie and scoring in spectacular fashion to make it 10–7 Blues, with eight minutes left on the clock.
The home team dominated the final 20 minutes, captured elegantly by a beautiful give-and-go sequence between Elliott and Barnable that was created by an Elliott steal four minutes in. Elliot finished the game with three goals.
Barnable scored two goals and tallied six assists, while Pison found the back of the net five times and added an assist to lead the Blues’ offense with eight and six points, respectively. Masson and Bottomley enjoyed four- and three-point nights, respectively. Hickey, Zach Holmes, and Alex Emerson rounded out the scoresheet with a point each.
Varsity Blues head coach Joe Nizich was less than pleased with his team’s overall performance, but praised the group’s turnaround. “In the fourth quarter we started [controlling the pace of the game], winning the draws and stopping their fast break,” he said. Pison agreed, saying that in spite of mental mistakes, the team was “able to bounce back,” and that “faceoffs [and] getting turnovers ended up giving us the lead we needed.”
The two consecutive wins for the Blues mark a departure from a devastating start to the season, as the team dealt with the tragic death of 25-year-old assistant coach Alejandro Duque on September 9. Duque had played for the Blues from 2011–2015 and was set to start his Master’s degree the day after his passing.