By Sam Laskaris

Having used up his junior eligibility lacrosse goaltender Joel Watson admits he was starting to fret about what his playing future would look like. Watson, 21, had spent the past four seasons toiling with the Whitby Warriors’ Junior A squad. But he had some apprehensions as the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) Entry Draft was approaching. That draft was hosted last night at the Peterborough and District Sports Hall of Fame, located inside the city’s main rink, the Memorial Centre.

Courtesy of Vintage Lax | Tim Prothero

Watson said he had only had a brief discussion about the draft with Brad MacArthur, the head coach and general manager of the Brooklin Lacrosse Club. “I hadn’t talked to anybody else,” he said. “I was a little anxious where I would be playing.” Watson can now feel more at ease. That’s because MacArthur once again got in touch to tell him the Brooklin organization would indeed be protecting him prior to the draft.

The Brooklin franchise is allowed to protect a maximum of four graduating players from the Warriors’ roster prior to the junior draft. For each individual it protects, however, the Brooklin brass must release a player from its active 25-man roster.

Watson, a Whitby native who packs 300 pounds on to his imposing 6-foot-5 frame, is thrilled Brooklin decided to protect him.  “I was pretty happy,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine as I was growing up watching the Brooklin Redmen play.”

The organization dropped its Redmen moniker in 2019 and now simply goes by Brooklin Lacrosse Club.

Watson realizes he might not be seeing a tremendous amount of action with Brooklin during the 2020 campaign. He could end up seeing most of his playing time with the Merchants Lacrosse Club, Brooklin’s Senior B affiliate squad which plays home contests out of Children’s Arena in Oshawa. “I’m okay with that,” Watson said. “But (Brad) didn’t really tell me what the plan was for me.”

"There is always a lot of moving parts and uncertainty this time of year for Major Series clubs." MacArthur explained. "The fact we operate both the OSL and MSL franchises gives us a bit of latitude. Joel can stop the ball. He's a large young man who takes up a lot of net. He's played for me previously (with the Green Gaels Jr. B) and we have a good relationship. We want to put Joel in a position to succeed and develop." 

Watson, who posted a 8.45 goals-against average in his 10 regular season appearances with the Warriors in 2019, realizes his game can still use some work. “I think I’m pretty good positionally,” he said. “My movement though can become a little quicker.”

Watson is now also in his third season of suiting up for the Toronto Monarchs of the Arena Lacrosse League. He was primarily a backup the last two seasons to Craig Wende, who is now with the National Lacrosse League’s Rochester Knighthawks.

“It has provided me a better opportunity to play,” Watson said of his starter’s role now with the Monarchs.