Merchants Drop Playoff Opener Against Host Titans
By Sam Laskaris
It was oh so close.
But it was also not the playoff start the Merchants Lacrosse Club was hoping for.
Despite playing well in spurts the Merchants were edged 9-8 by the host Oakville Titans in Game 1 of their Ontario Series Lacrosse (OSL) best-of-five semi-final series on Friday.
The match was held at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville.
Merchants’ head coach Jason Crosbie was not pleased at all with Friday’s result. That’s because his charges blew a 5-2 second-period lead.
“They scored seven straight goals after that,” Crosbie said of the Titans. “We had zero response from the defence. And we had zero response from the offence.”
The Merchants did score a goal in the final minute of the game, with 42 seconds remaining, to make things close.
Losing by just one goal though didn’t provide Crosbie with any relief.
“It was just one goal but it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “There’s a lot of detaily things we didn’t do right. And it cost us the game.”
Despite the closeness of the match, the Merchants could actually only get their offence going in the middle frame.
They were held off the scoresheet in the opening 20 minutes. And in the third period they scored just one even-strength goal. The Merchants’ final goal was netted with goaltender Riley Hutchcraft on the bench, pulled in favour of an extra attacker.
“You can’t win a lacrosse game if you score zero goals in one period and essentially just one goal in another period,” Crosbie said. “How do you score six goals in one period and then basically not score in two other periods. It was just attention to details. These guys have to put on their big boy pants and learn to finish.”
The opening 20 minutes provided both good and bad news for the Merchants.
On the positive side, the Titans, who were undoubtedly looking to come out and make an early statement on their home floor, scored just two goals.
The bad news, however, for the Merchants was the aforementioned fact they were held off the scoresheet.
Crosbie’s charges did get their offence going in the second frame, scoring five unanswered goals in the opening 12 minutes to take a 5-2 lead.
The Titans stormed back, however, with a pair of powerplay goals and a shorthanded marker to tie the score at 5-5. The two clubs then traded goals in the final minute of the second to make the score 6-6 heading into the third period.
Oakville secured the W by outscoring the Merchants 3-2 in the third.
Dylan Riley and Liam Osborne both scored twice for the Merchants. Also scoring for the Merchants were Ryan Degerdon, Jeff Fernandes, Adam Perroni and Travis Getz.
The Merchants will now host Game 2 in their series on Sunday. That match, which will be held at Children’s Arena in Oshawa, has an opening faceoff scheduled for 4 p.m.
The Titans will then host Game 3, next Saturday (July 27) at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, the other OSL semi-final series features the top-ranked Six Nations Rivermen against the fourth-seeded Owen Sound North Stars.
The Rivermen will host Game 1 in that series on Saturday at their home rink, the Gaylord Powless Arena located in the Six Nations community of Ohsweken. Game time is 7 p.m.