Though they may have been disappointed by the weather for their home opener, the McGill Redmen (3-0) lacrosse team left Molson Stadium satisfied following a decisive 13-7 victory over the Queen’s Golden Gaels (1-1) Saturday afternoon.
The game’s scoring was opened in historic and unusual fashion, as McGill’s sophomore goalkeeper William Waesche found space in the middle of the field while carrying the ball up and fired a shot from 10 yards out to open the scoring. Waesche’s goal was the first by a goalkeeper in Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA) history, and was an unassisted, end-to-end effort.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a goalie score before,” co-captain Jack Stewart said. “It’s a huge energy boost. Seeing your goalie run down the field and then score the first goal of the game is big for momentum.”
From that point on the Redmen dominated, leading 7-2 by halftime, and 12-4 by the end of the third quarter. The Gaels made a small run during the latter half of the fourth frame, but the attack amounted to just three goals and was not nearly enough to narrow the large gap.
Sophomore attackman Spencer Bromley, junior midfielder Rhys Burnell, and senior attackman Alex Rorbach each contributed a hat trick to lead McGill’s offensive outburst, and Burnell would add a fourth goal late in the game for good measure. Although the Redmen are just three games into the 2014 campaign, Burnell has already eclipsed his four goals from last season with seven thus far, a product of increased playing time. It was senior co-captain Connor Goodwin, however, who had the highest point total for the day. Goodwin contributed six assists, bringing his season total to 11—three short of what he recorded all of last season.
Rain and cold meant that the stands in Molson Stadium were relatively empty, but those who did attend witnessed a strong performance from a Redmen squad that has been sharp so far this season as they chase the Baggataway Cup once again. Despite unfavourable conditions, the hosts were smooth and composed.
“Playing lacrosse in the rain doesn’t affect your game plan […] too much,” Stewart explained. “It’s business as usual, but you do become more cautious with the ball when passing and shooting because the rain can definitely affect your stick.”
If the Redmen felt any difficulty, they certainly did not let it show. The victory marked McGill’s 17th straight regular season win, and extended their run of dominance over Queen’s. The Redmen were on the winning side of all three matchups between the two teams last season, including the semifinal of the CUFLA National Championships. Stewart is pleased with the team’s play so far this season, but emphasized that there is still work to be done.
“Everyone needs to stay focused and continue to work hard in practice,” he said. “I don’t think there are any glaring problems we need to fix, but we can definitely work on limiting penalties and unforced turnovers.”
On Wednesday, the Redmen will host rival Bishop’s University at Molson Stadium for an 8:30 p.m. game in what will be McGill’s first big test of the season. The Gaiters are undefeated thus far and finished second in the division in 2013. Bishop’s dealt McGill their last divisional play loss, which occured September of 2012. Since 2009, each regular season game between the two has been decided by two goals or less. Stewart, however, is confident in his team’s ability.
“I think it’ll be important for us set the tone physically early on in the game,” he explained. “If we play smart and stick to the game plan, we should come out on top.”