A scheduling conflict marked the end of a promising uphill battle towards the provincial championships for a Bracebridge high school lacrosse team.
When they arrived in Brampton to take part in the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships on June 7 and 8, the Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School’s boys lacrosse team found themselves without their top starting players.
“Ten starters were not there because of prom,” said coach Gus Liadis. “The team that got us there was not the team that competed there.”
Without their top starters, the team floundered in the championships, losing all three games to rival teams from Brantford, Georgetown and Toronto.
Nonetheless, Liadis praised the team for their determination all season, and for their dedication to overcoming obstacles in reaching the championships in the first place.
In order to secure a place at the championships, the Bracebridge team had to beat Huntsville — which Liadis describes as a much stronger team — at the Muskoka-Parry Sound championships.
“In order to get to OFSAA, we won our league and beat Huntsville 5-4 in overtime,” he said.
Liadis said the feat was achieved in spite of the fact that Bracebridge does not offer the same level of lacrosse training as Huntsville. The Bracebridge team went on to enter the tournament as “underdogs,” ranked 14 out of 15 competing teams — the best in the province.
“We have absolutely no box lacrosse or field lacrosse program at all,” he said. “It means we lack a lot of experience compared to the other teams. You actually learn the sport when you come here in Grade 9; it’s not offered at a community level here.”
However, Liadis said entering the tournament as the underdog is nothing new for the high school.
“The MPS league has existed for three years and Bracebridge has represented the MPS league in all three years at OFSAA,” he said.
Despite the defeats at this year’s provincial championships, Liadis said he was proud of the boys’ progress, and of the hard work they’ve put in over the season to qualify for the tournament.
“We a very, very competitive team all year, and we actually could have won a couple of games there,” he said.