With less than a minute left in the game, junior midfielder Rufus Frost drifted to the corner of the field, out of sight of the Ottawa goalie.
Spotting his teammate Anders Bjella curling around a number of Gee-Gees defenders, Frost cut in front of the net, his stick raised high in anticipation of the pass. In a flawless display of team chemistry, Bjella whipped the ball to Frost, who held it just long enough to smoke a shot into the net. The final score: 13-4. The stat sheet: Frost’s first career hat-trick, and a berth in the Baggataway Cup Championship Tournament.
Following last season’s upset loss to the Guelph Gryphons in the CUFLA Finals, the Redmen returned to the field this year with an intact roster. The team proceeded to dominate the regular season, going 12-0 with an average margin of victory of 9.6 goals. In a league with constant player turnover, the Redmen’s continuity and team chemistry has been one of their greatest strengths.
“Team camaraderie is our strongest talent this year,” said sophomore goalkeeper William Waesche. “[No] team will ever have every single player performing at their optimal level every time they step on the field. However, you can have a team that gets along so well […] they can compensate for the areas that are underperforming on a given day.”
This was evident from the beginning of the game, despite McGill’s slow start on the scoreboard. As the Redmen offence struggled to convert scoring opportunities, the team’s defence held strong, sealing the field around Waesche as he prevented the Gee-Gees from taking the lead. However, McGill’s offensive struggles in the first quarter, combined with the team’s penalty count—the Redmen were whistled for eight of the 13 penalties called—gave them a mere 3-2 advantage after the opening frame.
“We were sloppy on offence,” Head Coach Tim Murdoch said. “We weren’t shooting well at all [….] Our defence really saved us today [….] We had a lot of penalties against us, so we were man-down for a big chunk of the game.”
McGill’s defence continued to hold tight, shutting out the Gee-Gees in the second and third quarters as the Redmen jumped out to a 9-2 lead. Alongside Frost, senior attackman Leland de Langley netted two goals, while a number of other Redmen tallied singles.
With McGill’s leading scorer Spencer Bromley and co-captain Alex Rohrbach held in check, Frost stepped up to lead the team in scoring for the first time this season. According to Murdoch, Frost, a third-year midfielder out of Park City, Utah, is a prime example of McGill’s deep roster.
“We have depth through all positions, from goalie through attack,” Murdoch said. “It’s really hard to defend us because we have talent across the board—you don’t really know who to stop.”
With the team closing in on another Finals appearance—it will be its third consecutive year if it manages to do so—the Redmen have recognized that they will need to strengthen their mental resolve if they are to capture the Baggataway Cup this season.
“We can improve on playing at our highest level for a whole 80 minutes across the playing field,” Waesche said. “Unfortunately, this mental aspect of the game is one of the hardest things to accomplish, but luckily playoff season is a time where every player is tuned in and has the same goal of going home with [the Baggataway Cup] in hand.”
The team will now prepare for the final stretch of playoff games that will take place in Oshawa this year. McGill’s quarter-final matchup is set to take place on Nov. 7, with possible semifinal and championship games scheduled for Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 respectively.
In the meantime, Murdoch will continue to prepare his team to prevent another loss in the Finals this year.
“We’re going to work extremely hard next week,” Murdoch said. “We have excellent conditioning on this team, [and] we’ll keep the conditioning going. We’ll keep the guys ramped up […] for the Final Four weekend.”