Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Defense, goaltending Shamrocks committed to a strong start

By Vaseline May31,2024
Defense, goaltending Shamrocks committed to a strong start

Any time you allow just 11 goals in two lacrosse games, you’re on bent knees looking at your defensemen and goaltenders.

A stingy defense, backed by excellent goaltending, has the Victoria Shamrocks off to a 2-0 start in the Western Lacrosse Association heading into tonight’s match against the Coquitlam Adanacs (1-1) at The Q Centre.

The Shamrocks defeated the Langley Thunder 12-6 in the season opener last week in Colwood and then beat the Burrards 6-5 in their first road game at Cam Neely Arena in Maple Ridge.

“We don’t have the big names we’ve had on defense in the past, but the guys we have there are strong and athletic,” Shamrocks head coach Mike Simpson said.

“That allows us to put pressure on opponents and not give them much time.”

The Shamrocks’ fold features two goaltenders who are both starters in the professional National Lacrosse League and that has been evident early on. Chris Origlieri, the 21-year-old starting goaltender for the San Diego Seals in the NLL in winter professional lacrosse, was named the game’s first star during the win at Maple Ridge. 24-year-old sophomore Cam Dunkerley, who in his junior career backstopped the Junior Shamrocks to the Minto Cup national championship tournament before becoming the starting goalie for the NLL’s New York Riptide, started the first game for Victoria against Langley.

“It starts with goaltending and we have two great goalies,” Simpson said.

“Both are young and both elitist. We are in a good place in the crease.”

Carrying the early offense is veteran Jesse King, who at age 31 appears to have lost none of his coiled explosiveness. Heading into Thursday night, King was second in the WLA scoring with 12 points, five of which were goals. The Claremont Secondary product, who led the Ohio State Buckeyes to two NCAA Tournaments and captains the Calgary Roughnecks in the NLL, has returned to summer box lacrosse in the WLA after playing the field in the professional Premier Lacrosse League last summer . The former world champion with Canada and Mann Cup champion with the Shamrocks has 227 goals and 352 assists for 579 points in 129 career games played for the Shamrocks.

The Shamrocks’ roster is bolstered tonight by the season debut of Marshal King, Jesse’s younger brother and also a notable offensive threat, coming from NCAA Div. 1 Drexel University and the Las Vegas Desert Dogs of the NLL.

The Nanaimo Timbermen, meanwhile, opened last week with a 10-5 loss to the Adanacs in Coquitlam. The T-Men will compete in their home opener against the Burrards (0-1) at Frank Crane Arena in Harbor City on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Indeed, Coquitlam goalkeeper Andrew Gallant made 54 saves in the opening win against Nanaimo, and Simpson said the Shamrocks’ shooters are well aware of that towering performance heading into tonight’s match against an Adanacs team that is coming off a number of low seasons revives.

“It’s a stronger competition this year, top to bottom,” Simpson said.

“You have to be committed on the floor every night or you’re going to get in trouble.”

BOXLA BITS: Casey Wilson, who played with the University of Denver in the NCAA Final Four at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia last weekend and is a prime candidate for the Canadian team when field lacrosse returns to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, is expected to return to the Klavers next week.

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