Merchants On Verge Of Elimination Following Home Loss Against Titans

By Sam Laskaris

For the second consecutive game the Merchants Lacrosse Club had an ideal start in a playoff match.But for the second straight time the Merchants blew a lead, which proved costly. The latest setback came on Sunday as the Merchants were downed 12-8 by the visiting Oakville Titans in an Ontario Series Lacrosse contest held at Children’s Arena in Oshawa.

With the victory the Titans now lead their OSL best-of-five semi-final series against the Merchants 2-0. Oakville can wrap up the series by winning Game 3, which will be held Saturday. That match will be held at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville at 7 p.m.

The Merchants appeared to be on their way to evening up the series by having one of their opening periods of the season. The Merchants led 6-2 after 20 minutes on Sunday. But the wheels then fell apart. Oakville scored a shorthanded marker in the second minute of the middle frame.

The Titans then took advantage of a Merchants’ too many men penalty shortly after that. Merchants’ general manager Brad MacArthur felt that call was a huge turning point in the contest as Oakville capitalized on its powerplay. He felt the officiating crew was being more lenient with the transitioning of players earlier on. “It was a penalty that wasn’t being called in the first period,” said MacArthur. “We just let that decision get to us for the rest of the game. The players couldn’t handle it and they fell apart.”

Oakville went on to outscore the Merchants 7-1 in the second period to take a 9-7 advantage into the third.

“There’s some resilience needed to play in this game and our guys didn’t have it today,” MacArthur said. Lukas Coote started the game between the pipes for the Merchants and was rather solid in the first 20 minutes. Coote was pulled and Riley Hutchcraft then went into goal for the Merchants after the Titans tied the game at 6-6 in the sixth minute of the middle frame. “He deserved to start,” MacArthur said of Coote. “He’s played well for us all year. And it wasn’t his fault I pulled him. I was just trying to get a momentum swing back for our team.”

Though the Merchants now face a challenging uphill battle to come back and take the series, MacArthur is not counting his charges out. “We’ve just got to play 60 minutes,” he said, adding the Merchants can now no longer afford to play well for a period here and there or take undisciplined penalties as they did in the latter stages of Sunday. Adam Perroni, who scored one of the Merchants’ goals on Sunday, also said his teammates are remaining upbeat despite the fact they are now facing elimination in the series.

“We feel we can put together a few games,” he said. “We’re right there with these guys. Both these games have been close.” Perroni admitted a bench minor in the second period against his club should not have set the tone for the rest of the match. “I feel it did affect the team,” he said. “It was in our guys’ heads. It’s got to fall on us though. That shouldn’t have been the difference.”

Dylan Goddard scored twice for the Merchants. Also scoring for the Merchants were Jake Gilmour, Connor van Ryn, Adam Perroni, Dylan Riley and Bryce Tolmie, the captain of the Clarington-based Green Gaels, who suited up as an affiliated player.

If needed, Game 4 in the series will be next Sunday at Children’s Arena. And if the series goes the distance the deciding contest will be held July 30 in Oakville.