Sea Spray dominate over Shooting Eagles

by Gary Ahuja

Sea Spray's Tyler Kirkby puts a shot past Shooting Eagles goaltender Andrew Gallant during ALL West action at Langley Events Centre on February 15 during his team's 19-9 victory. Gary Ahuja Langley Events Centre photos

The Sea Spray Lacrosse Club continued their torrid scoring pace, popping home 19 goals as they rallied from a sluggish start to defeat the Shooting Eagles Lacrosse Club 19-9.

The teams kicked off week ten action of the Arena Lacrosse League West Division on Tuesday night at Langley Events Centre with the first-place Sea Spray improving to 7-3 while the Shooting Eagles lost a second straight game to fall to 4-6.

The Sea Spray have now scored 16, 17 and 19 goals in their last three games, winning the last two.

“We expect we can put up those numbers every week. We just have to take care of things in our own end first,” said Sea Spray coach Russ Heard. “It is a mix of our transition – Gordie winning faceoffs and giving us offensive chances – and then our strong offence.”

The coach was referencing faceoff man Gordie Phillips, who was dominant on Tuesday night, winning 23 of 31 draws.

For his part, Phillips deflected credit for his faceoff success to his teammates.

“I take a lot of pride in that – I like to be a well-rounded player and taking faceoffs goes into that. But the majority of the time, it is my loose ball team actually gets the ball so I can’t take a lot of the credit. I can draw it out, but we have a lot of guys that work really hard and get the loose balls, so a lot of credit goes to them, realistically,” he said.

Regardless, being able to win the loose-ball battle played a significant role in the team overcoming a shaky start as there were numerous missed passes and dropped balls. The Sea Spray took the game’s first five minor penalties – all in the first quarter – and surrendered a pair of man-advantage goals to fall behind 4-3 after 15 minutes.

“We weren’t sharp before the penalties – we were dropping balls, missing passes, making unforced errors. But we started getting a little more rhythm and our defence started playing better. And when we did make mistakes, Matteo was there to bail us out,” Heard said of his goaltender, Matteo Tack, who made 32 saves on 41 shots.

With Tack stoning the Shooting Eagles, the Sea Spray offence found its game, using a balanced attack as 11 players scored at least one goal and 14 of the 16 players registered a point or more. Tyler Kirkby had a goal and five more assists as he leads the ALL West with 46 assists.

Rob Hofseth (three goals, four assists), Adam Dickson (four goals, two assists), Connor Goodwin (two goals, three assists), Phillips (one goal, three assists), James Rahe (one goal, three assists), Keegan Bell (two goals, one assist), Parker Kump (one goal, one assist), Carter Dickson (two goals) and Aidan Ellis (one goal) had the rest of the team’s points to lead a well-balanced attack.

“The coaches did a really good job of drafting guys that can play lacrosse and handle the ball. It is hard for other teams to focus on just one guy when it is 11 guys scoring goals. It makes it easier for us because anyone can score and other teams can’t really defend that,” Phillips said.

Both teams entered the game without a full complement of players but the Shooting Eagles – who were already down ALL West goal-scoring leader Dean Fairall (26 goals) after Fairall was signed to the active roster this week for the National Lacrosse League’s Panther City Lacrosse Club – lost one player in the game’s first 10 minutes and then another player for what amounted to nearly half the contest.

It left the Shooting Eagles with just two spares on defence and three on offence and they could not keep up with the Sea Spray. After scoring four times in the first 15 minutes, the team mustered just a single goal in both the second and third quarters before scoring three more in the fourth.

Jake Foster led the attack with four goals – overtaking Fairall for the ALL West goal-scoring lead in the process – while Mark Yingling (two goals, one assist), Coady Adamson (two goals) and Declan Fitzpatrick (one goal, one assist) had the rest of the offence.

Both goalies saw action with Andrew Gallant stopping 20 of 30 shots while Brody Harris made 25 saves on 34 shots.

“They (Sea Spray) played well on their side, and we didn’t. Even with the guys we had, we didn’t play well enough,” said coach Adam Smith.

Up next for the Sea Spray will be a game against the Black Fish Lacrosse Club on February 22 while the Shooting Eagles face the Grizzlies Lacrosse Club on February 23. Both games are at Langley Events Centre with 7:00pm start times.