Merchants Geared Up To Face Titans (Again) In Playoff Series

For the second straight year the Merchants Lacrosse Club will have to square off against the Oakville Titans in its opening round of the playoffs. The best-of-five Ontario Series Lacrosse (OSL) semi-final series will commence this Friday. The Titans will host Game 1 at their home facility, the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. The Merchants will then host Game 2 on Sunday. That match, which will be staged at Children’s Arena in Oshawa, will begin at 4 p.m.

“We’re two evenly matched teams,” said Merchants’ head coach Jason Crosbie. “And it’s déjà vu from last year.” In the 2018 OSL playoffs the Titans captured their best-of-five semi-final series versus the Merchants thanks to a 10-7 victory in Game 5. “I expect it will be a long series again this year,” said Crosbie, who found out this past week that along with his assistant Ryan Preston and General Manager Brad MacArthur that they had been chosen as the OSL’s top coaching staff for the 2019 campaign.

Crosbie said he is not concerned the Merchants lost all three of their regular season meetings against the Titans this season. Oakville won the first matchup 8-5 back on May 24 in Oshawa. The Titans then edged the Merchants 10-9 in overtime in a contest on June 8, also in Oshawa.

And in the regular season finale for both squads on Sunday, the host Titans doubled the Merchants 10-5. It should be noted, however, that outing did not hold much significance for either squad as it had already been determined Oakville would finish second in the OSL standings while the Merchants would end up third. “That doesn’t mean anything,” Crosbie added of the regular season results between the two rivals. “This is something completely different now.”

Crosbie believes the amount of success his charges will have in the upcoming playoff round could very well be determined by how they fare in their own end of the floor. “They have some good talent on that team,” he said of the Titans. “We have to play defence first.” Crosbie also believes Oakville’s transition game might be a bit better than the Merchants.

But then again, Crosbie feels his squad does have an edge over the Titans in another department. “We have more offensive talent,” he said. “But it depends how we use it.” The Merchants are expected to be led offensively by Dylan Goddard, who won the OSL scoring title for the second consecutive season. Goddard racked up 61 points (16 goals and 45 assists) in 14 games this season. He finished seven points ahead of Oakville’s Eddie Renaud, who was the runner-up in the OSL scoring race. The Titans’ roster also includes Cree Blakely, who finished third in the league scoring with 52 points.

Matt Van Galen will also be eligible to suit up for the Titans in the playoffs. He spent the majority of the 2019 season with the Oakville Rock of the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL). Van Galen earned 16 points (eight goals and eight assists) in his four regular season appearances with the Titans.

The Merchants, however, will have considerably more players with some MSL experience in 2019 that they will be able to dress for their playoffs. That’s because 11 individuals who can assist the Merchants in their playoff run suited up for at least one game in the MSL with its affiliate, the Brooklin Lacrosse Club.

This list includes goaltender Riley Hutchcraft as well as Austin Murphy, Travis Getz, Dylan Riley, Jackson Suboch, Adam Perroni, Jake Gilmour, Liam Osborne, Josh Toguri, Cory Upshaw and Cody Filson. “Does that help?” Crosbie asked. “Maybe. But you still have to play the game.”

Game 3 in the Merchants/Titans series is scheduled for July 26 in Oakville at 7 p.m.

If necessary, Games 4 and 5 will be in Oshawa on July 28 (4 p.m.) and in Oakville on July 30 (8 p.m.)