Mustangs host tough competition at provincials

Matthew Gourlie
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Field lacrosse is still looking to grow in Saskatchewan.

Tanner Schier, left, from the Moose Jaw Mustangs checks Connor Pylypow from the Saskatoon Scorpions 1 during junior field lacrosse action at the Provincial Field Lacrosse Festival in Moose Jaw Sunday.+

Local field lacrosse players grew their game when the city hosted the Provincial Field Lacrosse Festival this weekend.

At Sunday's junior (under-19) tournament, the Moose Jaw Mustangs lost both of their games. They won the midget (under-17) bronze medal final thanks to a 12-6 win over the Saskatoon Scorpions 2 on Saturday.

"It was a fantastic weekend all around. We haven't had this many teams compete at provincials in a number of years, so it was great to see the growth and we want to keep the momentum rolling," said Moose Jaw coach Mick Lewchuk. "The players will be preparing for nationals during Labour Day weekend and hopefully a lot of my kids are encouraged to try out to make those Team Sasks and go on to nationals."

Though they didn't win many games at the festival, a fair number of their players were named to a tournament all-star team. 

The Junior Mustangs had five tournament all-stars: midfielders Quinn Ingalls and Bailey Bechtold, attack Paul Stewart, Tanner Schier on defence and Thomas Spence in goal.

Ingalls' selection was even more impressive because the 14-year-old was playing two divisions up in the junior tournament.

"Our kids shined. They played really well against overwhelming odds. I'm impressed and proud of the effort they put in this weekend," said Lewchuk.

The Mustangs had three midget all-stars: Jed Bell on defence, midfielder Brayden Johnson and Branden Klatt in attack.

"Considering the talent levels and the amount of practice time and those sorts of things you have to take into consideration at an event like this, I thought we played very well. We hustled. We had great determination and heart and we learned every shift," said Lewchuk. "Talking to all of the kids as they left and they all said 'I can't believe how much I learned about the game.' There are so many different little technical aspects, but when it comes down to it both box lacrosse and field lacrosse come down to moving the ball, passing and catching and making sure you're moving your feet."

The local players definitely had some very good competition to learn against.

In the junior competition they were in tough against two very strong Saskatoon teams.

Stewart and Johnson scored in an 18-2 loss to the Saskatoon Scorpions 1, while Klatt picked up an assist. In their second game they lost 15-2 to Scorpions 2. Ingalls and Bechtold both scored and Spence had an assist.

The Scorpions 1 won the provincial title with a 12-6 win over the other Scorpions team.

The Mustangs took all of the midgets they used on Saturday and played them on the junior team Sunday. They also had a pair of pee wee-aged players on the field as well.

In Saturday's midget tournament, they had a tough 23-1 loss to the Saskatoon Scorpions 1 to start the tournament.  

They had a much more competitive game in a 5-3 loss to the Sturgis Trojans before finishing the day with their 12-6 win over the Saskatoon Scorpions 2.

"We started off rough, but we got better in the second game and the third game was like the cherry on top of the ice cream," said Lewchuk. "We played better in every single game."

The Scorpions 1 beat Scorpions 2 by a 17-0 score and then beat Sturgis 20-0 in the tournament final as they showed that they were the class of the event.

"All of the teams — Saskatoon, Sturgis and Moose Jaw — were carrying bantam players who are 13 and 14 year olds," said Lewchuk. "It's a nice lead-up to the next level for these guys."

Beyond the provincial team tryouts, Lewchuk is hoping to get a little more field lacrosse for the local players before the end of the season.

Notre Dame dropped out of the field league, so the Moose Jaw teams will play a best-of-five series against each other, though Lewchuk expects another best-of-five series to materialize with Strugis out of the weekend of competition.

"We're also going to go up (to Sturgis) next weekend and they're going to come down here on June 7 so we can get a five-game set in with the Sturgis Trojans. We'll play as much lacrosse as we can play."

Organizations: Saskatoon Scorpions 2, Saskatoon Scorpions 1

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Notre Dame

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