Rhys MacDonald enjoyed a golden debut at the Canadian Lacrosse Association field lacrosse national championships in Saskatoon, Sask., Sept. 1 to 3.
MacDonald helped B.C. defeat Ontario 10-8 in overtime to win the under-15 First Nationals Alumni Cup. Tied after regulation, the teams battled in two four-minute quarters to decide a winner.
“It was amazing. It’s basically the only way you would want to win a championship,” said MacDonald. “You battle hard the whole game. Battle through bad calls, take a few hits, what more could you really want in a national championship game?”
Becoming a national field lacrosse champion was overwhelming.
“You don’t really even know it’s happened even after the last whistle. You are just so caught up in the emotion,” he said. “You can’t really compare it to anything else. It’s just that one thing that everybody wants.”
Put in a defensive role, MacDonald felt he played well in his first national championship. The great experience makes him want to return. In talking about his play, MacDonald said players can’t focus on individual performances, especially when the end goal is to win.
B.C. opened with an 8-7 win over Alberta, then routed Manitoba 20-0. Their third match was a closer, an 8-7 decision over Ontario, then they closed out pool play with an 11-2 win over Saskatchewan.
The national championship was a step up from what MacDonald has played in before, which includes representing the Thompson-Okanagan zone in the B.C Summer Games and the Vancouver Stealth junior academy. Within the Interior leagues he said two or three kids might play the whole game, but on this stage each of the players have a role to fulfill.
“You bring the team down if you don’t try your hardest,” he said.
Silver for Danby
For a second straight year, Aidan Danby and Team B.C. have come away with a silver medal from the national championship.
B.C.’s under-18 side won four of its six games with the final loss coming in the championship, 17-13 against Ontario.
A slow start hurt B.C., who dug themselves into an 8-0 hole in the first quarter. They chipped away making it 10-6 after two quarters.
“We just couldn’t get it. We couldn’t battle back, we just didn’t have enough time,” said Danby, who with B.C. lost to Ontario 13-9 in the last year after being tied in the fourth quarter. “They were really good. Everyone on their team was pretty strong. We couldn’t get that extra step on them after we got down.”
Danby was tasked with shutting down the opposition’s sharp shooters in a defensive role. He felt he played very well. He said he became a better player during the championship as he learned more about positioning and a few tricks. Having gold elude him again is motivation for next season.
“I wish I could have got gold. I always have next year and the year after that to try and get gold,” he said.