(WINDSOR, ON) – The Windsor Warlocks bantam lacrosse team finished so close to the Ontario Lacrosse Association’s ‘A’ Division that they could taste it. They went to ‘A’-level tournaments and beat a few ‘A’-level teams, but have landed in the sweet spot for a run at the ‘B’ Division provincial title this August in Whitby.
“We’re in the top level of ‘B’,” explained Warlocks head coach Grant Sokolowski. “We were flirting with ‘A’, [but] we were losing tough games in ‘A’.”
Ranking 20th in the province out of 74 teams is impressive, considering the Warlocks’ 6-12-2 record. The better you do against the tougher teams, the higher you are ranked. And, between the skill level of their opponents and the minimal goal differential, Windsor is considered among the best in Ontario.
“Even though our record doesn’t show it, we’re a really good team,” said Sokolowski. “I actually think our end goal is to take that pennant down in ‘B’ and bring a banner to Forest Glade. That’s our goal and our guys know that and that’s what we’re working for.”
Despite their .350 record, the Warlocks have only been outscored by a total of nine goals this season.
“We’re always competitive, we’re always in games. It’s just a matter of the growing pains of playing at a high level and these guys will learn sooner or later just how to win,” Sokolowski said.
It has been a feeling out process for Sokolowski and his players.
“Well, this is my first year with this group. Didn’t really know many of the guys,” he explained. “I helped Juiced Cherries start a box program. I was able to coach a handful of these guys, so I’ve got a little bit of familiarity, but basically, from the get-go, I wanted these guys at the highest level, so I put them in ‘A’ tournaments. They’re getting their feet wet at the high level right now, so we’re competing with the top-level teams. We lost to Orangeville by two, lost to Nepean by one, and those are top-three teams in Ontario. So, when we play good, we’re really good.”
For Nathan Dethomasis, the Warlocks Bantams are a band of brothers.
“They’re hilarious, oh my gosh,” he exclaimed. “Every day in the room, we have a group chat on social media. Every day we text each other and it’s hilarious.” Dethomasis is out until provincials due to a wrist injury he sustained in late June’s Orangeville tournament. He has been working on strengthening it in preparation for his return.
Despite his injury, he loves “how physical [lacrosse] is and how fast-paced it is and just the love of the game and how it’s nationwide.” He is trying to keep things in perspective.
“Our season has been up and down,” he said. “Some points were good, some points we get a little lazy, and we get a little bit hard on ourselves sometimes. But, we’ve been doing pretty good because we’ve been pushing ourselves going to ‘A’ tournaments.”
Coach Sokolowski has been impressed by Vance Dalpe, a player who took a few summers off and is coming back with a vengeance.
“He’s just getting his lacrosse legs back, but he’s got the pedigree, he’s got two brothers that play, and he’s shown me a lot,” said Sokolowski. “He’s got a really good shot, a good eye for the net, and he’s got some big, key goals for us too.”
Between the pipes is the Goliath known as Marcus Stanley.
“Marcus, yeah, he’s good man,” agreed the coach. “He’s a wall in there. He’s big, he stands his ground, and he’s got a lot of potential to do big things in lacrosse. I think, with a couple more years, he’s going to be at the top of the junior ranks.”
Stanley, along with teammates Malikye Good and Nate Dowling, has been getting some floor time with the Midgets as well.
“[Midget coach John] Rosa and I have a really good rapport and I encourage these kids and I want … these guys playing the highest level,” said Sokolowski. “I try to get these guys as much opportunity to go up and play midget and, actually, Marcus got a shutout playing Guelph playing for the Midgets.”
When asked what midget standout Griff Salaris thought about a young goalie coming up and stealing his thunder, Sokolowski chuckled and described Salaris as the textbook definition of “team player.”
“I don’t know if anyone was happier for Marcus getting that shutout than Griff,” said the coach. The rest of squad includes goalie MJ Schwager, Xavier Gelinas, Kane Murphy, Max Frattaroli, Ajinn Vantassel, Connor Scott, Ngwiisus Whiteye, Matthew Schneider, Koah Frias, Calum Brennan, Braeden Burke, and Zach Vaillancourt.
Sokolowski is joined on the bench by assistant coach Cody Robinet, trainer Steve Burke, and manager Albert Frattaroli.
With all the chess pieces in place, Dethomasis sees his team going far this August.
“We’ve never, ever won provincials before and we’ve got a good chance,” he said. “Our team is coming together when we’re working hard.”
Come out Saturday and see some exciting Warlocks action at Forest Glade Arena. From 10 am until 6p the Windsor Warlocks Tykes, Novices, and Intermediate girls will be hosting the London Blue Devils.
For more information, visit the Warlocks online.