Marauders turning season around

Lacrosse: Okotoks Jr. B team rallying behind massive victory over Mounties

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 06:00 am

Nick Barley of the Okotoks Marauders protects the ball from a Rockyview Silvertip defender during Okotoks 7-2 win on June 15 at Pason Centennial Arena. The Marauders are on a two-game winning streak after snapping a six-game skid.
Nick Barley of the Okotoks Marauders protects the ball from a Rockyview Silvertip defender during Okotoks 7-2 win on June 15 at Pason Centennial Arena. The Marauders are on a two-game winning streak after snapping a six-game skid.
Remy Greer/OWW

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The blend of focus and desire was the perfect recipe for a potentially season changing win for the Okotoks Jr. B Marauders.

Okotoks snapped a six-game losing streak in style by dispatching the defending champion Calgary Mountaineers 12-10 on Thursday to kickstart two wins in a row bookended by a 7-2 rout of the Rockyview Silvertips on Sunday evening.

“We came prepared for that game. We were hungry for every loose ball, every face-off. We wanted that game really badly,” said Marauders alternate captain Taylor McNeill on the triumph over Calgary. “It’s a huge rivalry, it was a big win for us.”

McNeill paced the Marauders with a three-goal, seven point effort, Eric Porter collected two goals and five points while Matt Westhaver poured in a pair of goals in a four-point performance to hand Calgary just its third loss of the season.

“It was just ball movement, get it moving and get their d scrambling,” McNeill said. “And we buried our chances. That’s the first time we’ve hit double digits.”

Away from the ball, Okotoks’ relentless pressure on every inch of the floor played a massive role in both victories.

“We’ve been trying to make the adjustment of applying more pressure to the other teams, not just sitting back, trying to take the game to the other teams,” said Marauders head coach John Millar. “We really started succeeding with that (against Calgary) and we just continued that today.”

“It’s all the defence and all the pressure applied up the floor that’s the biggest difference between us losing and how we’ve won the last couple games.”

Okotoks was stout defensively and then some in Sunday’s weekend finale.

Already boasting a 2-0 lead in the opening frame, the hosts blew the game wide-open with a picture perfect passing play from McNeill to Eric Antonchuk followed by an Eric Porter individual effort to increase the lead to 4-0 at the first intermission.

The Marauders looked poised for the rare lacrosse shutout only to cede a pair of third-period markers to Rockyview’s Bo Forsen and Paulo Folzi.

Okotoks would close out the contest with affiliate player Nash Hartford beating the shot clock on a bouncing shot from the point and Devin Posehn adding some late insurance on a powerplay marker with 25 seconds on the clock to close out the five-goal victory.

Marauders goalie Kyle Vernon was stellar throughout, preserving the lead in a scoreless second period with a pair of dynamite breakaway saves.

“They have a couple very good ball players that will score on you if you give them space,” Millar said. “The idea is to apply pressure to the ball as much as you can to take away that space.

“(Vernon) made a couple really key really nice and made one beauty in the second period that was really important, but the defence was really good in front of him.”

The best week of the season puts the Marauders back in the playoff picture open to the top-four teams from the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League’s South Division. Okotoks (3-10) is now tied with the Calgary Shamrocks for the fourth-seed with the division rivals meeting in two of the next three contests.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence and now playoffs is on our mind, we want to be in that fourth spot,” McNeill said. “These next games are huge for us.”

Next up for the Marauders is a rematch with the Mountaineers in Calgary on Friday followed by a Sunday afternoon showdown versus the Shamrocks in Okotoks. Ball-drop is 3 p.m. at Pason Centennial Arena.

For more information go to rockymountainlax.com


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