“Don’t worry. We’re ready.”
That’s the reassuring message head coach Tori Wasson has heard from her Trent Excalibur players as they prepare to compete in the 2019 OUA Women’s Lacrosse Championship tournament October 18 to 20 hosted by the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks at Vaso’s Field in Oshawa.
“Their confidence and athleticism is at an all-time high…we’ve never had a team that’s in better shape,” says Wasson who, with assistant coaches are Sara Gardner, Erica Evans, Lexi Hill, and Kevin Segriff, guided Trent Excalibur to a near-perfect 12-1 won-lost record in league play – more than good enough for first-place in the East Division. Even more remarkable is all those games were played on the road.
“We learned a lot from that game,” says Ms. Wasson of her team’s only loss, a 16-11 setback to the Western Mustangs.
“We have to come out strong and not be intimidated by other teams. We came within a goal (of winning the cup) last year. We needed a couple of key pieces and they were added this year.”
Proof of that has been the solid performance of first-year player Avery Di Giorgio with a team-leading 50 points, followed closely by third-year veteran Leah Michel with 49 points. But this team is no two-trick pony, notes Ms. Wasson, pointing out that 10 players registered more than 10 points each.
Since its inception in 2013, Trent Excalibur has won two OUA women’s lacrosse championship medals – gold in 2016 and bronze last year on its home turf at Justin Chiu Stadium.
“We had the feeling last year that we were going to do a little better but it made us hungrier,” says Ms. Michel, a first-year player with the 2016 gold medal-winning team.
If any of Ms. Michel’s teammates are looking for added inspiration, they need look no further than the adversity the Courtice native has overcome.
Severely injured at age 18 playing hockey, Ms. Michel developed a blood clot in her spine that resulted in a spinal stroke. Physiotherapy and rehab brought back her back the use of her legs. Offered a field lacrosse scholarship at Canisius College in Buffalo, she opted to attend Trent, majoring in Psychology.
“She’s an incredible leader…she does all the little things,” says Ms. Wasson of Ms. Michel.
“When she goes to work out, everybody follows. They know that playing lacrosse is a gift and it is a gift that was given back to her.”
Trent Excalibur begins its quest for its second Patterson Cup on Friday (October 18), 7:45 p.m., versus the Guelph Gryphons.