The Laurentian Voyageurs men's lacrosse team had to work a little overtime to register their first win of the CUFLA (Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association) season, but it was well worth the additional eight seconds of effort.
That was all the time it would take for veteran Mike Kussman to net his fourth goal of the game in the extra session, capping off a wild rally by the home team, which trailed the McMaster Marauders 10-6 early in the fourth quarter, before reeling off five unanswered goals.
That stretch of offense included a game-tying marker from Adam Elinsky, his second of the game, with just 15 seconds to play, deadlocking the contest at 10-10. Ty Mikulik (2), Patrick Fitzhenry (2) and Michael Mayes rounded out the scoring for L.U., as the team bumped their record to 1-3 and now prepares to complete the home and home this Friday evening in Hamilton.
A slow start proved costly in the season opener, as the Voyageurs spotted the Guelph Gryphons a 12-5 lead at the half, rallying to close the gap to 16-12 by the end of the game.
Matt Smith (5), Mayes (2), Fitzhenry (2), Kussman, Mikulik and Elinsky hit the back of the net for the Sudbury reps, while Zachery Luis and Mike Berger showed the way for Guelph, with six and four goals respectively.
A second half meltdown was the story of the game the next afternoon, Laurentian leading the Laurier Hawks 5-0 at half-time, only to drop a 15-8 decision when all was said and done.
Patrick Fitzhenry held the hot hand for the locals, scoring four times, with Matt Smith adding a pair and Adam Elinsky and Matt Delabbio closing things off. The Hawks received hat tricks from Austin Pope, Ben Penny Perreault and Andy Borgatti, as Laurier scored no less than nine times in the fourth quarter alone.
The Voyageurs proved to be no match for the powerhouse Western Mustangs on Saturday, the blue and gold swamped to the tune of a 23-2 setback at the hands of the multiple time league champions.
Michael Mayes and Adam Elinsky managed to each get one past a trio of Western netminders, while Sudbury products Tristan and Julian Simeoni scored once each for the visitors.
"We graduated about five guys from last year, and then we had four that we thought would be returning, but they decided not to come back to school for various reasons, so we're down about eight or nine guys, which is a pretty big hole to fill," noted Roscoe Smith, returning for his second season as head coach of the Laurentian lads.
"We have four new rookies who came in, so that helped fill the void, but we're definitely a little more short-staffed than last year. You notice it later in games and on weekends when we play two games. By the third or fourth quarter of our second games, with eighty minute games, our guys are gassed. We need those extra bodies just to keep our starters fresh."
Despite the challenge of numbers, Smith still sees his team in a very similar light to one year ago. "We're always trying to improve from last year, but in terms of a realistic goal, I would say if we could at least finish in the same positioning as last year, that would be good."
"We were number four, below the big three (Guelph, Western, Brock), always competing with U of T, McMaster and Laurier. I would like to keep those games competitive." While the name of the game in field lacrosse is clearly offense, Smith fully understands the importance of his last line of defense.
"We depend a lot on our goalie, Jake Kelly," he said. "He sees a lot of shots, every game. He's one of our captains this year." Smith is a graduate of the Brock Badgers program, having captured a Battagaway Championship during his days in St Catharines, before moving north to pursue his career as a paramedic in Sudbury.