Photo Credit: Devyn Gallagher
1 Awkesasne Indians vs 2 Clarington Green Gaels
The two top teams in the East are about to cross paths in their road to the 2012 Founders Cup. The top seed Akwesasne Indians will take on the second seed Clarington Green Gaels in what is expected to be a very entertaining series.
Both the Gaels and Indians have explosive offenses with great depth and the ability to score in bunches. Depending on the schedule, Akwesasne could be missing 6 players, including two key offensive players Ky Tarbell and Hank Delisle. Tarbell, Delisle and four other teammates are playing for Iroqouis Nations at the 2012 ILA U19 World Championships in Turku, Finland. The tournament does not end until this Sunday (July 21st) and the way the purple and gold have been playing, it is likely they will meet up with Canada in the finals.
Missing players or a full roster, the Gaels are not worrying about who theyâ€™re playing and focusing on themselves.
While being confident for the next round, Gaels sniper Brock Levick recognizes and respects the depth of Akwesasne. â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter who is missing and they have made it this far for a reasonâ€ said Levick. â€œWe are here to win and we know what we have to do no matter who is in the line up for them.â€
The Gaels havenâ€™t been focusing on their opponents for quite some time now. The team had their first practice knowing who their opponent was last night. Since knocking off Halton Hills last Tuesday, they have been fine tuning for the next round while being blind to who was on tap next for them. â€œWeâ€™ve had a couple of high tempo practices at game speedâ€ said the Medaille College Maverick. â€œWe made sure we kept our legs going and that we would be prepared for any opponent.â€
Veteran teammate Brendan Fox agrees with his fellow lefty o-man Levick and believes they need to focus on themselves, not the team theyâ€™re facing. â€œWe have the mindset that we donâ€™t care who we playâ€ said Pickering native Fox. â€œAll that matters is that we continue to play our game and continue with the momentum we picked up from the last series.â€
Akwesasne will able to have almost a week off from game action and time to at least get on the floor to prepare for the Gaels. Alongside the powerful offense of the Indians, they have an aggressive defense that loves to push the transition. If they can spread the floor on the transition and capitalize the odd man scoring opportunities, it will make the life of the Indiansâ€™ offense much easier as Gaels goaltender Neil Roberts has been hot in the playoffs.
The Indians will also have to work on coming out stronger in the early stages of the game. In the Oakville series, they found themselves playing catch up in the second or third periods because they came out flat in the first period. Oakville was unable to put them away due to a lack of consistency of the offense in all 60 minutes of the game. With the Gaels, due to the numerous of weapons they have on offense, they have the ability to pull away in games.
All though Roberts has had a stellar playoffs thus far, he and the defense of the Green Gaels will have their hands full with the Indians offense. Akwesasneâ€™s Ty Thompson has stepped up huge in the absence of Tarbell and Delisle. Thompson has found the back of the net 12 times along with 20 assists for 20 points in 7 games. Thompson leads the Indians in scoring and sits in 4th overall in playoff scoring.
Not only has Thompson stepped up his game for Akwesasne but so has Nick Sanseverino. Sanseverino registered 16 points in the Oakville series victory. There is no doubt that Thompson and Sanseverino will need to continue there solid play until teammates Tarbell and Delisle return home. If all four can compete at their potential level, the offense of the Indians will be a force to be reckoned with.
This is the fourth year in a row the Green Gaels have made a trip to the Eastern Conference finals and in all four years Captain Steve Bourden has been on the floor with the Shamrock on his chest. Although there have been great Gaels teams in the past, Bourden believes this team has something else those teams never had.
â€œI feel like this is a grittier, tougher team as a whole. From the front end downâ€ said the Gaels leader. â€œWhen guys like Latty(Connor Latimer) and Goddard leading your team in fighting majors, it really says something.â€
Bourden credits the Gaels team toughness comes from ex-NLLer and current Assistant Coach Brad MacArthur. â€œMacArthur was a tough nosed player and he coaches us to be tough nose playersâ€ said Bourden. â€œWeâ€™ve always had guys with great skill who didnâ€™t like getting pushed around. But now, were the ones doing the pushing. I feel thatâ€™s been the key to our success.â€
There is no doubt that both these Eastern Conference powerhouses have the talent and ability to not only win the East and OJBLL title, but they could both be crowned Founders Cup champs. If the Gaels can continue to gain scoring from all sides of the offensive floor, play tough defense and if Roberts continues to be a rock between the pipes, the Gaels are going to be very tough to beat. With that being said, if the Indians can also continue to get numbers from many offensive players, push the transition and eliminate the slow starts like they struggled with against Oakville, the Gaels will absolutely have their biggest challenge thus far.
No doubt ladies and gentlemen, if you make the trip to Garnett B Rickard or the Turtledome, these two teams going to battle in playoff lacrosse will be worth the price of admission.
GAELS @ INDIANS SAT. JULY 21ST 5 PM
GAELS @ INDIANS SUN. JULY 22ND 2 PM
INDIANS @ GREEN GAELS FRI. JULY 27TH 8 PM
*INDIANS @ GREEN GAELS SAT. JULY 28TH 7 PM
*INDIANS @ GREEN GAELS SUN. JULY 29TH 2 PM
Players to Watch:
Awk: Ty Thompson 7GP 12G 20A 32P
GRE: Luke Laskiewicz 6GP 19G 16A 35P
AWK: Nick Sanseverino 7GP 14G 13A 27P
GRE: Connor Latimer 3GP 7G 8A 15P
AWK: Jake Lazore 6.50 GAA .653 SVG%
GRE: Neil Roberts 5.56 GAA .842 SVG%