Merchants downed by visiting Rock

by Sam Laskaris

For the second straight game the Merchants Lacrosse Club scored 14 goals. The fact they also had numerous defensive miscues contributed to the fact the Oshawa- based squad was downed 17-14 by the visiting Oakville Rock in an Ontario Series Lacrosse contest on Friday.

Some might have expected another defensive battle from the match staged at the Delpark Homes Centre in Oshawa. The Rock had edged the Merchants 5-4 in a low-scoring affair just 12 days earlier.

“We knew we were going to come out and try to push the ball much like we did last game,” Merchants’ head coach Clancy Almas said of the Merchants’ 14-5 victory over the Ennismore James Gang last Sunday.

But focusing on their transition efforts and in the offensive zone came back to haunt the Merchants, who saw their record fall to 2-4. With the W, the Rock evened their mark at 3-3.

“It was the fact we were trying to take off more than we were looking to play defence,” Almas said. “We made more defensive mistakes tonight than we have in the whole season. It was more or less beating ourselves tonight.”

Merchants’ rookie defender Matt Boissonneault knows his club needs to be better defensively if it wants to enjoy some success. “We were pressing the ball a lot, trying to get up the floor as much as we could,” he said. “I think we can focus more on our own D and helping the goalies out a lot more.”

As has been the case all season, the Merchants had a couple of new faces in their roster on Friday. Brady Kearnan had an immediate impact with the squad, scoring four goals and adding a pair of assists. And Jake Boudreau netted one goal and earned a pair of assists.

“When you get new faces it’s all about getting them on the same page right away,” Almas said. “By the end of the game we got it under control a little bit.”

Kearnan joined the Merchants after finishing off his senior season with the Mercy College Mavericks, a squad that advanced to the NCAA Division II championship final.

“I haven’t played with this group at all,” said Kearnan, adding he only had one practice with his Merchants’ teammates before suiting up for the club on Friday. “By the end of the first period it felt like we were meshing a little bit here so I’m just excited for the season and seeing what we can do.”

Almas was also rather impressed with Kearnan’s efforts. “He’s fantastic,” he said of the 22-year-old. “He had a great game. Last time I saw him he wasn’t as good as he is right now. I’m very impressed with the level of leadership he brought today.”

No doubt the Merchants will also benefit from Kearnan’s offensive abilities. “He’s got a knack for finding the net,” Almas said. “I think what impressed me most though was the way he was on the bench. I’ve got to be honest with you – his leadership and talking on the bench and talking to guys telling them where he wants them to be and what he needs out of them – that’s not the same Brady I coached a couple of years back. It was pretty impressive.”

While others were talking about the need to shore up defensively, Kearnan said the Merchants also needed to be better in the offensive zone. “I also think we need to pick our shots a lot better,” he said. “I know a lot of shots for me and for a lot of guys on our team they want those shots back.”

With plenty of early-season roster juggling Boissonneault said it will take some time for the Merchants to be a cohesive unit. “A lot of guys know each other from outside teams,” said Boissoneault, who scored the final goal of the opening period, giving the Merchants a 5-4 advantage and the last lead it would have in the game. “So, it’s not so much a new guy coming in and we don’t know who he is. It’s more like us trying to mesh with different playing styles because we all know each other. It’s just a matter of not playing with each other on a consistent basis.”

Other Merchants’ scorers were Luke Pilcher, Devin Pipher, Josh Medeiros and Corson Rees, who had two goals each.

The Merchants return to action next Friday, June 17 when they host the Owen Sound North Stars. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.