Volume 95, Issue 36

Tuesday, November 6, 2001
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Mustangs rejoice: "We're the best in da league"

Fairy tale end doesn't come true

A bittersweet ending

Volleyball team pounds Laurier

Mustangs rejoice: "We're the best in da league"

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

While every other Mustang championship contender was bowing out of the playoffs this past weekend, there was one Western squad kissing the cup.

The Western Mustangs men's lacrosse team defeated the heavily favoured Brock Badgers 12-10 in the Baggataway Cup final Sunday afternoon at TD Waterhouse Stadium.

Reminiscent of a Cinderella-type story, the Mustangs pulled off the ultimate shocker. Mustang head coach David Leich said the largely un-noticed, little-funded Mustangs were due.

"This is the way university lacrosse has been going," Leich said. "We wanted to get into the finals this year and everything after that was gravy."

In front of a raucous, pro-Mustang crowd, both teams traded goals down the stretch. The tension mounted until it was evident one goal could make or break the season. Fortunately for the Mustangs, forward Brent Moyer notched the go-ahead goal off a precise pass from forward Jason Jankowski with four minutes of play remaining.

With the Mustangs ahead 11-10, mayhem erupted. The Badgers frantically tried to score, while the Mustangs looked to run out the clock. The Badgers pulled their goalie for the extra-man advantage, but it was all for naught as Mustang forward Bill Greer buried the empty-net goal, clinching the Mustang victory.

"It's an unbelievable feeling. Brock is rated number one and we're just a bunch of blue-collar guys. We worked so hard for this," Jankowski added.

Jankowski added a sentiment felt throughout the ranks. "I have never felt this good in my entire life – it's awesome."

Diane Bergie/Gazette
MAYBE IF WE LOOK AT THE BALL LONG ENOUGH, IT WILL JUMP INTO OUR STICKS. A heap of lacrosse players prepare to win the draw.

In the past, the Mustangs have had heaps of trouble against the potent Brock attack, failing to beat them in the last eight years. According to Leich, a change in style made the difference this time.

"We've taken the approach of playing more of an American-style field lacrosse," Leich said. "Brock plays a box lacrosse style and strong field lacrosse will always beat strong box lacrosse in an outdoor game."

Shawn Williams, the dejected head coach of the Badgers, said Western was clearly the better team on Sunday. "It's always a big game for them," he said. "They capitalized on their chances and basically outworked us."

The Mustangs were led offensively by their dynamic duo of Jankowski and Greer. Jankowski tallied two goals and two assists, while Greer finished with a goal and three helpers.

In addition, the Mustangs' National Lacrosse League players Greer (Columbus Landsharks), defender Chris Standish (Washington Power) and defender Jamie McKerarcher (Ottawa Rebel) provided much needed experience and field savvy.

While numerous Mustang players were exhibiting their goal-scoring prowess, possibly the strongest play came between the pipes. Rookie goalie Jesse Cracknell was a wall in net, especially in the waning moments when Brock's forwards were crashing the crease.

It's ironic that the largely-followed, university-funded giants of Western athletics were tasting defeat, while the little guy that's forced to make his own way was experiencing the sweet smell of success.

The journey to Ontario champions has been a long and difficult one for the Mustangs. There have been disappointing losses, as well as satisfying wins.

But no matter what, the title 'Baggataway Cup champions' will follow them wherever their paths take them.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001