By Charlie Pinkerton
For the second year in a row a Gloucester Griffins team achieved record-setting results.
A peewee team from the club eclipsed the best-ever result of its team last year by making it to the Ontario Lacrosse Tournament’s ‘A’ finals tournament, where the top six teams in Ontario competed for a provincial championship.
The team that set a new marker for the club this year was made up of 11 of the same members of the team that broke the ‘A’ barrier for the club for the first time in more than 20 years last season. Steve McLean, the head coach of the Griffins’ top peewee team, said that at the beginning of the season he and Gloucester Lacrosse Association president Ian Woolridge both believed the team would once again be able to set achieve a record-topping mark for the club.
“(We) totally believed we could get to the final six,” McLean said, who credited his team’s hard work and perseverance throughout the year.
“We got there and it was fantastic to have just the most incredible group of boys who are just so willing to practise so hard all year,” McLean continued.
The Griffins’ bantam team were assigned to the ‘A’ division thanks to strong regular season results that positioned them as one of the province’s top 16 teams in their age group. They posted a 5-2 record in the ‘A’ qualifiers, which was good enough for a top three spot in their eight-team division and a spot the provincial finals tournament. At the tournament of the final six, the Griffins produced a 1-4 record.
“Overall in this grind to get to the championship in ‘A’ we played 12 games and we just didn’t quite get there, (but) it was a great result for us anyways,” McLean said.
The coach, whose son Zachary McLean is a member of the bantam team, was especially impressed by the success of his Griffins squad because most of their opponents had routinely competed at the ‘A’ level since they were in tyke.
“Our boys, they had a lot of catching up to do, and there’s a huge difference between ‘A’ and ‘B’, and the offensive and defensive systems and the speed you have to play the game at, so they had to learn it all in one year,” McLean said.
Woolridge said last year that the bantam boys clearing the ‘A’ hurdle was a “major accomplishment” for the club, which shows it’s “going in the right direction” that it’s since continued.
Woolridge is also due recognition for the club’s heightened competitiveness, McLean said. The president, who is in the second half of a two-year-long term, has pressed for teams to compete at the highest level they’re capable of.
“Ian is just such a promoter of lacrosse; he wants to grow the organization, he wants the organization to be well regarded in the community and people wanting to play for us and he thinks the best way to do that is to achieve a high standard of play,” McLean expressed.
The Griffins’ better play is also representative of better lacrosse in Ottawa in general, according to McLean, who added that improvements made by the Nepean Knights and the Akwesasne Indians in recent years has pushed his club as well.
Four more Ottawa teams won medals at the 2019 Ontario Lacrosse Festival. The Gloucester Griffins’ tyke ‘C’ and bantam ‘B’ teams both won silver, as did the Nepean Knights’ girls’ intermediate and girls’ Peewee ‘A’ teams.
CORRECTION: The Griffins team that achieved record-setting success is of the peewee age group. They had been previously misidentified as playing in the bantam division. The Sportspage apologizes for this error.