Aug 13, 2012- 3:35 PM
The Tykes fell just one step short of making it a pair of gold-medal winning teams last weekend at provincials, advancing to the Division E finals before they were beaten, for a second time, by the Shelburne Vets.
"It was a great weekend and a great effort from the whole tyke team, despite coming up a bit short in the championship game," head coach Dave Lachance said.
Joining the coaching ranks as his son was introduced to lacrosse, and mentored, this year, by long-time volunteers Tony Insinna and Wayne Bennett, Lachance had a game plan in mind as his team prepared for the all-Ontario tournament.
"Good defence, like a lot of sports, wins games," he said at practice about a week before provincials. "Offence puts people in the seats, good defence wins championships."
Truth be told, the Rockhound Tykes used a healthy combination of both en route to their success in Whitby. The Sudbury crew posted a record of 2-1 in round robin play, easily defeating both Caledon (10-1) and North Perth (11-0), but falling victim to Shelburne (10-5).
Battling elimination from that point on, the Rockhounds needed to overcome a bad habit of slow starts. Spotting Peterborough a 4-1 first-period lead, the locals tightened up defensively and began to pour it on at the other end of the floor, eventually doubling the Lakers 8-4.
Facing the Oshawa Blue Knights in semifinal action, the northern crew dug themselves a deep hole once again, trailing 4-1 heading into the second period. With netminder A.J. Rondina shutting the door for the Rockhounds, the team rallied, scoring four unanswered goals, including the game-winner in the third.
"In tyke house league, you switch as a goalie," Rondina said of his decision to stand in front of a rubber ball drilled frequently in his direction. "I liked it and wanted to play as a rep goalie.
"You just try and be big," he added. "You move with the ball, but it's hard to move all around with all of the equipment, so you try and stay near the middle."
On the attack, the Rockhounds had to overcome a major loss as perennial sniper Ben Harris suffered a fractured wrist in game two, his services lost for the remainder of the tournament.
The injury increased the pressure on the remaining key Sudbury shooters, including eight-year-old Mason Lachance.
"I have really good aiming and the goalies don't move around that much, so I just try and peak through the top corners," he said.
Now in his second year in rep lacrosse, Lachance said he understands already the importance of quality equipment, especially when it comes to developing a strong touch with ball-handling and shooting.
"I practice a lot and I'm really used to my stick," he said. "It's the same stick since I started in rep. The pocket is much bigger than the other ones I had."
Welcoming a number of players to the competitive lacrosse ranks for the very first time, coach Lachance was thrilled with the progress he saw over the course of just a few months.
"Our first tournament was an eye-opener," Lachance said. "Our first game we had our butts handed us, physically and on the scoreboard. But these guys changed literally overnight. We saw the kids really grow within a matter of two to three weeks."
In the end, it was enough to secure silver medals, starting the process of establishing a reputation province-wide.