Whitby Provincial Champs 2023

Whibty Crowned Provincial Champions

Akwesasne played host to the WMSL Championships on August 18 to 20, 2023. The nine teams Arthur Aces, Akwesasne Outlaws, Grand River Attack , Hamilton Bengals, London Thrashers, Mimico Mountaineers, Mississauga Badgers, Niagara Turtle Islanders and Whitby Rush came together to determine the 2023 Ontario Champion. Games on Friday and Saturday were round robin pool games with the pools being determined based on the regular season final standings. Highlight games on Friday saw Whitby, the regular season champion, squeak by Grand River 6 to 4 and Hamilton surprise Mimico 4 to 0. Saturday’s games had Arthur end Whitby’s undefeated season by a score of 7 to 4. In the last game of the day with both teams needing a win to advance to the Ontario Championship semi-finals Hamilton prevailed over Niagara 3 to 1.

The round robin game results established that Arthur, Hamilton, Mimico and Whitby would continue to play for the Ontario Championship and that Grand River, London, Niagara and Mississauga would compete for the B Championship.

The WMSL took the opportunity on Saturday evening to have a banquet provided and hosted by the Akwesasne Outlaws. Teams announced their Most Valuable Players and the league announced their 2023 All – Star team. Tessa Chad and Katy de Snoo both from Whitby, Fawn Porter- Hamilton, Erica Evans- Mimico, Mekwan Tulpin- Grand River, Trisha John- Niagara were selected in the Offence/ Transition player categories while Sasha McDonald- Whitby, Tenescha Caddick- Grand River, Shania Porter- Hamilton and Kylie Sullivan- Arthur were acknowledged in the Defensive player category and Ashley Price- Arthur and Raven Martin- Niagara were selected as Goalies. With the inaugural Women’s World Box Lacrosse Championship happening in 2024 we hope to see some of these individuals and other WMSL players participating in the World Championships.

The action returned to the floor on Sunday with Niagara and Grand River dispatching London and Mississauga respectively to reach the “B” final. On the Ontario Championship side Whitby handled Hamilton to advance to the Championship game. The other semi final pitted Arthur and Mimico and that game produced the most entertaining and exciting game of the weekend to date. Mimico started quickly scoring two goals in the first two minutes. But Arthur, the two time defending champion, steadied and scored three times in the rest of the first period to take a one goal lead. The lead changed again in the second period as Mimico potted three goals to Arthur’s single counter. In the third period. Arthur scored twice and Mimico twice to send the game into a full ten minute overtime period. Mimico took the lead in the first minute and held that lead to the 1:44 mark when Arthur tied it up. Eleven seconds later Arthur potted the goal that stood up as the winner in an 8 to 7 finish. The game featured outstanding offensive games from two players, Erica Evens- Mimico and Tori Verbeek- Arthur each finishing with four goals and one assist.

The “B” final had Grand River Attack facing their rivals the Niagara Turtle Islanders. The game ended up being a defensive clinic with each team struggling to find the back of the net. Tied at one goal apiece after the first period neither team scored in the second period. Each team managed a single goal in the third period and we headed to a full ten minute overtime period . Each team found the back of the net once and we were off to a second overtime period , but this time it would be sudden death with the winner being the “B” final Champion. Dee Pantin scored the winner, one of her three goals during the game, at the 6:38 mark to give Grand River the win. Raven Martin who we are used to seeing in goal for Niagara played out for this game and had two of Niagara’s goals.

The final game for the Ontario Championship pitted two time defending champion Arthur Aces against the 2023 regular season champion Whitby Rush.This was a rematch of an earlier pool game where Arthur handed Whitby its only loss of the season to date. Whitby had learned from that game and started fast and built a three goal lead half way through the first period. Arthur’s defence stiffened and they held Whitby scoreless for the remainder of the first and the second period while scoring one of their own. Each team scored one goal in the third and Whitby was the 2023 Provincial Champion by a score of 4 to 2. Arthur had managed to hold Whitby’s two big scorers Tessa Chad and Katy de Snoo to

a single goal between them but couldn’t generate enough offence to penetrate Whitby’s stout defence enough times to come out the winner.

While Whitby was crowned the WMSL Champion the other big winner was Women’s Box Lacrosse in general. Anyone who has watched the growth of the WMSL formerly the Ontario Women’s Box Lacrosse League (OWBLL) has seen the skill level of the players increase dramatically. The OLA’s efforts to grow the girls game have been bearing fruit as the WMSL welcomes highly skilled young women when they age out of minor lacrosse having already played for many years. The future of the WMSL looks bright.