Mustangs Drop Exhibition Tune-Up
Western Mustangs Men's LacrosseGreg Bowman
The Western Mustangs men’s lacrosse team are the cream of the crop when it comes to intercollegiate lacrosse. They have won two consecutive provincial championships in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association, looking to make it a three-peat this year. Men’s field lacrosse isn’t sanctioned under OUA like most other university sports, but a separate entity in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association which it has been a part of since the 80s. The CUFLA was formerly known as the Ontario University Field Lacrosse Association until McGill and Bishop’s Universities joined from Quebec in 2002. Now at 15 total teams across Ontario and Quebec, the CUFLA has been in operation every single year since 1985, firmly establishing themselves as the top field lacrosse league in Canada.
The Western Mustangs have won the last two CUFLA championships in 2016, and 2017, and have five titles overall. On Friday, they were taking on the Brock Badgers in their final exhibition tune-up game before the CUFLA regular season begins next week. The Brock Badgers are the most decorated team in the CUFLA, winning 18 championships over its 33-year existence, including two separate eras where they won six back-to-back titles. The Mustangs and the Badgers have a fierce rivalry in men’s field lacrosse. Western only lost two regular season games in 2017—both to the Brock Badgers. The purple and white were able to exorcise their demons in the Baggataway Cup championships in 2017 when they prevailed over the Badgers in double overtime 16-14.
It seemed appropriate that the lone pre-season game was between two of the top programs in the CUFLA. It was easy to see early on why the two teams were the best, as they exchanged highly-contested possessions with vicious checking at one another. Brock would jump out to a 2-0 lead early with Connor Ham able to rip one into the Western net. Tristan Simeoni would get the first Western goal midway through the first quarter to cut the deficit to 2-1, before Reid Reinholdt would tie it up before the quarter’s end 2-2.
Michael Byrne would open up the second quarter with the go-ahead marker to make it a 3-2 game. Like most leads in this game, it didn’t last long, as Kurtis Woodland would tie it up minutes after Byrne’s score.
The third quarter saw Brock jump out to a quick 4-3 lead, forcing the Mustangs to ramp up their offensive pressure. They dominated the majority of the third quarter as they were pusing for the equalizer. Jackson Hulbert was finally able to break through on a nifty passing play to tie the game up at 4-4.
The fourth quarter started the same as the third quarter, with Brock jumping out to another lead at 5-4. Yet again, the Badgers would park their proverbial bus and focus on defence, as the Mustangs were on a full-on assault to push for the tying marker. With less than two minutes left, the purple and white were able to score on a fast-break to tie it up at 5-5. The Badgers would answer quickly though, scoring on their very next possession to go up 6-5 with less than a minute remaining. They would add one more goal late in the quarter to solidify the 7-5 final in favour of the Brock Badgers.
The members of the Mustangs team were noticeably dejected after the exhibition loss, as the veterans of the team assembled everyone on the purple ‘W’ in the middle of Mustang Field. They preached that this year isn’t going to be easy as last year, and the performance against the Brock Badgers was unacceptable. Four members of the team said some words before their coach Jeremy Tallivez stepped in to say his piece. That goes to show the type of veteran leadership that the Western Mustangs men’s lacrosse team has this year as they search for their third straight Baggataway Cup.
Their regular season will begin in Sudbury when they visit the Laurentian Voyageurs on September 15thfor the 2018 CUFLA season-opener. They will play the Badgers again the next week on the 22nd in St. Catherines.