Sports

Back-to-back titles for Langley Thunder

Langley Thunder’s Adam Gallen fends off the stick check of his New Westminster Salmonbellies opponent during round robin play at the U19 tier 1 provincial championships held at Willougbhy Community Park on Saturday. The Thunder captured the gold medal. - Miranda Gathercole/Langley Times
Langley Thunder’s Adam Gallen fends off the stick check of his New Westminster Salmonbellies opponent during round robin play at the U19 tier 1 provincial championships held at Willougbhy Community Park on Saturday. The Thunder captured the gold medal.
— image credit: Miranda Gathercole/Langley Times

After winning their first three round robin games at the provincial championships, the Langley Thunder seemed to be sitting pretty. But that quickly changed with an 1-9 loss to the Nanaimo Raiders in the final game before the playoff round.

“We were feeling pretty good,” said Thunder coach Bryan Poole about his team’s mindset after defeating Delta 13-12, doubling Coquitlam 6-3 and then beating New Westminster 10-7.

“I think (the loss) was an eye opener for our team that they can’t just show up and play,” Poole said.

“They had to step it up and they did on Sunday.

“It was awesome.”

He was referring to a 13-8 victory over the same Nanaimo squad on Sunday afternoon.

The two teams were playing for the gold medal at the U19 tier 1 provincial field lacrosse championships, which were held at Willoughby Community Park.

Poole said he was most impressed by his team’s compete level in the gold medal game.

“They would not give up,” he said.

“As a coach watching, it is pretty awesome.

“You ask them to go out and follow the plan and they executed it.”

The Thunder turned a one-goal game into a huge lead as they strung together eight straight goals. The Raiders tried to rally, but Langley held firm, winning by five goals to capture their second consecutive title at this age group.

With a veteran group of players combined with some first-year players who made timely contributions, Poole called the team a great mix.

“We expected this group to win,” he said.

“Honestly, it was just everybody doing their role and contributing.”

Goaltender Ryley Brown earned most valuable player honours.

“He earned it; he deserves every bit of it,” said Poole.

“He is a leader back there and really communicates well with the defencemen.

“It makes their job a lot easier when you have someone quarterbacking things back there. He is a great leader and we know he is going to make the saves.”

Brett Dobray earned the Warrior Fair Play Award while Poole was awarded the Fair Play coaches award.

“We have a talented team but there are a few guys that stand out that we rely on a little bit more than others,” Poole said about Dobray.

“That kid is outstanding, a great player.”

Dobray missed half of last season’s B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League season with a concussion, but was still the team's top goal scorer with 26 goals. He was also the league's most sportsmanlike player.

And at provincials, a sprained ankle hobbled Dobray, but he was still out there contributing.

•••••

In addition to the U19 tier 1 and 2 boys championships, Willoughby Community Park also hosted the U12 and U15 girls championships.

The Thunder had teams in both girls divisions, but neither found the podium. The U15 team went 2-3 while the U12 squad finished 0-3-1.

And Langley’s Patricia Keizer was honoured with the B.C. Lacrosse Association volunteer award.

Victoria (boys tier 2), Coquitlam (U15) and New Westminster (U12) won the other titles, respectively.

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