The U13 Mid Island Lightning just missed the medal round at the provincial field lacrosse championships earlier this month, but the team could take some solace in the fact that they took the gold-medallists to the limit.
“The team that won gold only beat us by one goal,” head coach Bill Sanderson said.
The Lightning were the defending champions in the U12 Tier 2 division — age groups were reconfigured after last season — but went 1-2 in pool play at the tournament in Richmond this year.
Mid Island lost their opener 6-2 to Ridge Meadows #3, won their second game 7-4 over Nanaimo, then were edged 6-5 by Ridge Meadows #2. The two Ridge Meadows teams ended up playing for gold, with #2 edging #3 by a 9-8 score.
“We were close,” Sanderson said. “We were out by one point from getting to the medal games.”
The Lightning had players as young as 10 — three years younger than many of their opponents — and several with no previous field lacrosse experience.
“Our go-to guys just ran out of gas, and our young players’ legs weren’t long enough to keep up,” Sanderson said. “It definitely caught up to us. Everybody just played hard. We built on our goalie and defence. We were happy with the way everything went.”
Goalie Devyn Zunti and big sticks Dawson Thibedeau, Chris Hleck and Jeremy Benson were the unsung heroes of the team all season, Sanderson emphasized.
This is the last year the team will be together, with many moving up to U15. Next year’s U13 team has a bright future as the 10- and 11-year-olds will build on their year of experience.
“The U13 team has a promising future with the experienced U11s,” Sanderson said.