It was an unfitting end to what was supposed to be a dream season. The McGill Redmen were riding a 19-game winning streak against CUFLA competition coming into the championship game of the Baggataway Cup. The match was held at home in Molson Stadium in front of raucous McGill fans. All that stood in their way from back-to-back trophies was a pesky Guelph squad that was hoping to win its third game in 48 hours. All season long the Redmen had mowed down their opponents through a combination of superior depth and offensive talent, but in their final game of the season, they were unable to do what they had done so often this season. The Guelph Gryphons were the ones to hoist the trophy following a thrilling 14-11 championship game.
The 14 goals represented the highest total McGill had allowed all season, surpassing the previous high of nine against Bishop’s University in their final game of the regular season. On Sunday, however, Guelph withstood the physicality of a stout Redmen defence that featured a whopping five All-Canadians, and used deft passing to expose McGill’s backline. According to McGill Head Coach Tim Murdoch, Guelph took advantage of small lapses in his squad.
“We just got beat a few crucial times defensively; it wasn’t anyone in particular,” Murdoch explained. “They have some really amazing shooters and scorers, and they were just hitting the net.”
Time and time again, McGill’s offensive chances were thwarted by Guelph goalie, Jeremy Snider. In the last minute alone, the hosts were shocked as Snider managed to stop the ball from crossing the goal line after a wealth of quality chances. Throughout the game, the Redmen attack was patient and picked their spots carefully as they worked the ball around the perimeter, probing the Gryphons’ defence. This strategy proved successful initially, as McGill jumped out to an early 4-2 lead following the first quarter.
Connor Goodwin, a junior attackman, was the offensive engine for the Redmen, scoring three goals and adding three assists to cap off an excellent tournament. Kevin Donovan, Leland De Langley, and Anders Bjella all chipped in with two goals apiece. However, the team’s efforts were not enough as the Gryphons turned it on in the second half, outscoring McGill 8-5 in the final two quarters.
Despite the final result, Murdoch expressed pride in his team and their historic record season they had achieved.
“As far as the end of the game, what I was happy to see was that our team never gave up. We were down by four goals and were able to get one back,” Murdoch said. “This loss doesn’t mar an otherwise amazing season: going undefeated—the first time that’s ever happened at McGill—and making it to the National Championship game.”
The path to establishing a McGill lacrosse dynasty does not end here, as a whopping 37 out of 41 players are set to return next season. In addition, Murdoch has shown an unmatched capacity to recruit quality players across North America. Goodwin is one such player who expects to return and is conident that the squad will use the off-season to their advantage.
“We need to just work on our skills; [get] in the gym, get stronger, get bigger,” Goodwin said. “We return most of our guys so we’ll definitely be gunning for a championship next year.”