Jr. B Marauders on outside looking in
Lacrosse: Okotoks misses out on playoffs in challenging season
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014 06:00 am
Back to square one.
The Okotoks Jr. B Marauders made it interesting with a late playoff push before ultimately finishing their season prematurely and producing a near carbon-copy 5-15 record to their inaugural campaign in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League one year ago.
“We started off with the right intentions,” said Marauders captain Matt McKay. “We definitely had the potential this year to do what we intended to do, but commitment of players and injuries really hindered our possibilities to win.”
Starting out the season with four-game and six-game losing streaks and a 1-10 record didn’t help either as the Marauders scuffed out of the gate and couldn’t navigate over its division rivals in Calgary’s Mountaineers, Chill and Shamrocks as well as the Manitoba Gryphons.
“1 and 10 is pretty hard to come back from especially when you have powerful teams like the Chill and the Mounties ahead of you,” McKay said. “It was an uphill battle all season. Too bad we couldn’t pull it off.”
Against the odds, the Marauders briefly climbed back into the playoff picture and within striking distance of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Tier I South Division. Consecutive losses to the fourth-seed Shamrocks put those visions of grandeur on ice.
“There were two must-win games we had against the Shamrocks. Those were key games we needed to win,” said Marauders head coach John Millar. “We didn’t show up and play our best for those and that’s the reason we’re not playing (anymore).
“We didn’t meet our goals. We should have, we had the talent to make playoffs.”
Lessons were reinforced as the team looked to stave off the sophomore slump and take two steps forward. Lesson one; more is lost in indecision than bad decision.
“Loose balls, mistakes get made, bad changes, these sorts of mistakes that you have to think your way through, that’s where experience is a big factor,” Millar said. “Towards the end of the year we were so much better about not getting caught off position if we lost the ball, so much better at sending the guys after the ball and trying to put pressure on the other team.
“In those broken plays, it doesn’t matter what decision you make, but you’ve got to make a decision.”
Playing for pride down the stretch the Marauders were making the right decisions.
Okotoks earned a measure of consolation in the form of consecutive victories over the Rockyview Silvertips and Sherwood Park Titans to cap the sophomore year of Marauders ball.
“It was a good way to end the season with two wins,” added McKay, a recent Foothills Composite graduate.
“Ending it on this note will set us up for more success next year.”
The Marauders should feature a remarkably similar roster come spring 2015 as it loses just one player, playmaker Eric Antonchuk, to graduation. Noting the development of well-rounded play from the likes of Eric Porter, coach Millar is optimistic the third time could be the charm for the young franchise.
“There is lots of good cohesion in the room, everybody is on the same page that we should, as a group, be doing better,” Millar said. “The entire team is going to be a year older, a year stronger.
“We only lose one player through ageing out and we’ve got some really nice young talent coming in, there is a couple really nice young Okotoks Midget players that we’re going to be adding to our roster.”
The Okotoks Junior B Ice wrapped up a season to forget.
The Tier II club finished the 2014 campaign with a record of 1-13, well back of post-season placement in the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League. For more information go to rockymountainlax.com