(WINDSOR, ON) – The Windsor Warlocks novice lacrosse team are spending some long hours at Forest Glade Arena this week preparing for what will hopefully be the highlight of their season; the Ontario Lacrosse Festival.
Spending the season battling in top tier tournaments, and playing in one of the toughest zones in the province, the young Warlocks squad has endured baptisms by fire, but have come out of them for the better.
“It’s been a season of trying to convince the kids that they’re capable and trying to get the fundamentals in place for the majors next year going into peewee and the novices that are becoming majors.” said head coach Jason Brennan.
This year’s novices are the marriage of the graduates of last year’s tyke team, Windsor’s first tyke team to make the ‘A’ division in recent memory, and last year’s predominantly minor-aged novice team.
“At the beginning of the season, we talked to players and parents,” Brennan said. “We had two very different teams coming together as minors and majors and we just wanted the mentality of everyone doing their best, doing their part as a team member.”
These are young lacrosse players, mostly nine and 10 years old. Between other summer sports, Fortnite marathons, and general shenanigans, you have to expect a few bumps in the road.
“We’re a roller coaster,” said Brennan. “We don’t know which team is going to take the floor, let alone every game, but every practice even. We’ve got some attention span issues but, once we get them focused and once they’re able to get themselves focused, they can do great things.”
Goalie Austin Senay “has been fantastic,” stated Brennan. “We knew that we’d be relying on him a lot at the beginning of the season. We’ve been able to do that. We think his best games are still to come during provincials. Can’t say enough about his ability and attitude. He’s ready and willing to lead his team from the crease.”
For Austin, it’s all about being part of the action.
“My favourite thing about lacrosse is saving balls and my team helping me,” said Senay. “I like that [my teammates] are playing hard and they’re playing some good offence and helping me.” Senay, who is also a hockey goalie, concedes that he sometimes faces more shots than he’d like, but his teammates, “are working on that and they’re doing really good.”
“It’s fun to be a goaltender, because you get to stop balls and there’s more movement,” he said. “In lacrosse, there are different moves. In hockey, you slide around and instead of moving to each spot you T-push to that spot.”
He said there are benefits to being both a lacrosse goalie and a hockey goalie; they may even complement each other. Both sports, “help me a lot, with practising with my hand-eye coordination, and stopping pucks and balls.”
Novice Roster Rundown
Coach Brennan, starting with the majors, also had a lot of good things to say about the players in front of Austin.
- “If you were to measure his ability by his potential, [Denver Boismier‘s] the full package.”
- Ethan Bastien “brings an element of desire to the floor, he’s got individual skills and you can tell he wants more.”
- Gavin Philpott has an “amazing attitude and he brings his best efforts every time he’s on the floor whether it’s a game or a practice.”
- “You can’t tell [Hudson Dalpe] missed a year from the game because all he’s done is improve in every aspect of the game all season long.”
- “Depending on the which end of the floor [Jacob Levesque‘s] on, he’s physical at the defensive end of the floor and he’s giving everything at the offensive end of the floor.”
- Owen Arthur is “a presence physically, offensively, and his demeanour is that of a leader.”
- Reed Forbes’ “game is multi-faceted with good individual skills, vision, and aggression at both ends of the floor.”
- Zack Cvetkovski “plays every shift like it could be a game-changer and his positive attitude is contagious.”
- Alexander Schneider‘s “speed and skills allow him to make a big play offensively or defensively.”
- “Offensively, [Brock Brennan] has vision and he has the ability to make the players around him better.”
- Brock ‘Badger’ Bildfell is, “obviously, a physical presence, but he’s more than that, he’s a good teammate with good individual skills.”
- Connor Montgomery is “a bundle of effort with good hands skills and floor IQ.”
- Patrizio Dinardo Rugiero has “good individual skills progressing toward putting them together.”
- Seth Veres “combines a knowledge of the game with great hands and a scorer’s touch.”
- Travis Jankovich has “speed all day long and his individual skills are progressing.”
- Aiden Elijah “puts forth his best effort whenever he’s on the floor.”
- “[Goalie Emma Mighton‘s] confidence keeps building and she looks as though a transition from tyke to novice next season will be seamless.”
- Nolan Sampson‘s “individual skills have improved with his efforts, his potential keeps rising.”
“They’re all good kids,” said Brennan. “There’s a reason why they’re here and when they get together they have fun too. What’s just as important as everything else is having fun. They’re begging for more floor time in practice to play [competitive] games.”
The combination of hard work and fun is allowing the kids to reach the milestones the staff has set for them.
“Our goal was to make ‘B’ this season and we were able to accomplish that,” explained the coach. “We played in some tough ‘A/B’ tournaments at the beginning of the season in Orangeville and Brampton. We went into Hamilton, a ‘B’ tournament, and we made it to the semi-finals, and we’re hoping to do something like that at provincials as well.”
The team has been taught how to set up their offence and their defence, to grab the loose balls, and to transition. Now it is a question of whether these skills can translate on the big stage at the Ontario Lacrosse Festival this August in Whitby.
“We were able to stick in the top 32 with almost 80 teams, that’s a big accomplishment,” said Brennan. “To go into provincials, win or lose, it’s, ‘Are we having our best games this year?’ If they are doing all these fundamentals, they are putting everything together and executing, win or lose, it’s going to be successful.”
For more information on Windsor Warlocks lacrosse, visit the team’s website.