The Nanaimo Island Stone Supply Timbermen have only gotten better since winning a provincial championship a year ago. The competition, though, is better too, and that’s the challenge this week.
Nanaimo’s junior women’s lacrosse team is off to Port Coquitlam for the start of the B.C. Lacrosse Association championships on Thursday (July 7).
The landscape has changed over the past 12 months since Nanaimo defeated Burnaby in the gold-medal match. Burnaby is back in contention, and New Westminster is a double threat with two teams in the tournament.
“It’s going to be harder than all the other years because everybody’s so close this year,” said Cassie Livesey, Timbermen veteran. “But we’ve played them all; we all know what everybody’s like. So if we just do what we’re supposed to do I think everything will go perfect.”
The junior women know they need to get up to game speed right away this week. Mainland teams have been battling through playoffs lately, whereas Nanaimo has had to keep itself busy with practices, dryland training, team-building and the odd exhibition game.
The team has managed to stay sharp.
“We’re looking a lot better this year going into provincials than last year, even,” said Toni Angell, team captain. “We’re catching and passing pretty well. We’ve got our offence down pat, which is key, and our defence is coming along as well.”
Experience might be the team’s biggest advantage. The Nanaimo squad knows better than any of the other teams what it takes to win gold.
“That definitely helps,” said Marissa Jordan, alternate captain. “Having that experience helps us keep our focus and keep our cool.”
At such a high-stakes tournament, teams are bound to get caught running around a little bit in the first period. The Nanaimo women might be able to play with more consistency.
“Hopefully [our experience] gets our early jitters out of the way a lot quicker this year,” said Angell. “We know what it takes – you have to work hard the whole time.”
Harder than any other time of year.
“A lot of us get beat up during the games, [but] you have to think, you wait all year for this and it’s the most important thing to all of us,” Livesey said. “You’ve just got to forget about everything and just focus on the game and think how much you love the game and you’ll be fine.”
LACROSSE TALK … The first game for the junior women is Thursday against Port Coquitlam … Nanaimo has three other female teams at provincials in PoCo, too. The midget girls play Thursday against New Westminster, the bantam girls also start off against New West and the peewees begin with a matchup against Ridge Meadows. Nanaimo’s peewee A2 and peewee C boys’ teams start provincials Friday (July 8) in Vernon.