Big win secures the team’s first-ever appearance at the national championship
On Sunday, Oct. 30 the University of Ottawa lacrosse team pulled off what’s being called the most stunning upset in Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA) history.
Facing the defending national champions in the first round of the playoffs, Ottawa was considered a major underdog heading into the game, having ended the regular season with a 3–9 record. As such, no one was surprised when Ottawa trailed 10–6 with just under seven minutes to play.
But that’s when the miracle happened. Ottawa netted goal after goal, bringing the score to 10–10 with 44 seconds left in the game.
Not wanting to give McGill a chance to regroup in overtime, Ottawa pressed hard for a goal, which came with 16 seconds left, at the hands of long-stick midfielder Cameron Spencer.
Defensive coordinator Brett Perras, who co-founded the team in 2013, said the key to beating McGill was managing emotions and just playing their game.
“The offence and the defence had a game plan and we pretty much just stuck to it. We didn’t get too high, didn’t get too low.”
While they stayed even-keeled during the game, the players understand that they were part of something truly special.
“Obviously, we came into that game and they’re the defending champions of the year before,” said second-year goalkeeper Isaac Lavallee. “Probably the most exciting lacrosse game I’ve ever been a part of.”
Thanks to this unexpected victory, the team secured their first-ever appearance at the national championship, the Baggataway Cup.
Sadly, the team lost the first game of the national championships to Brock, bringing their year to an end.
However, Perras said the team is still happy with the way things ended, since their goal entering the season was to make nationals, and they achieved that goal.
Going into this season, the team brought in National Lacrosse League superstar Callum Crawford as a head coach. Perras said the coaching change helped immensely on the field, but also to increase interest in the U of O lacrosse program.
“It was a huge bonus to the program. He’s implemented some great things,” said Perras. “Kids from around the league who are done their undergrads now are coming up here for post-grads, so the interest that he’s brought to the program for having such a high-calibre coach is great.”
Currently, the team is technically listed as an SFUO club, and is not even recognized by the university as a competitive club. This year was the first year the team played their home games at the university, making the move from Vanier field.
Perras said it’s disappointing going to nationals without officially being able to call themselves the Gee-Gees.
“Our main goal is to become a part of the athletic department, recognized by the athletic department. That way we can call ourselves proudly Gee-Gees,” said Perras.
Graduating defenseman and team captain Connor Primeau pointed out Ottawa is the only team in the CUFLA not considered a competitive club by their school.
“Short of a national championship, we’ve done everything every other team in this league has done, and we’re the only team that hasn’t been recognized by their school.”
Perras continues to be in contact with the U of O athletic department, and is hopeful that, possibly as early as next year, the team could be named a competitive club by the university.
Going into next year, Perras expects an uptick in talent, due in large part to the off-season recruiting efforts of Crawford and the pedigree he brings to the team.
The hope is that this year’s trip to the Baggataway Cup wasn’t just a lucky break, but the next step in the development of the program.