By Earl Zukerman
Co-captain Jishan Sharples, a graduating senior from Vancouver, B.C., scored twice, including a wrap-a-round goal with 12 seconds remaining in double overtime to give McGill its first-ever Baggataway Cup championship in men’s lacrosse with a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Western Mustangs, Sunday.
It marked the sixth time in as many seasons that a different team won the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CULFA) title.
“I was in a one-on-one situation with their defender behind their net and heard Coach [Tim] Murdoch yelling that we had 20 seconds left on the clock,” said Sharples, who was named as McGill’s Game MVP. “I turned back around the right side of the crease and took an overhand shot at the top left corner. It was all a blur. Then everyone just went nuts. It just worked out perfectly for us.”
The CUFLA final was a see-saw affair that featured three lead changes. McGill’s Tayler Sipperly of Charlotte, N.C., scored the opening marker before the game was a minute old but Western stormed back to lead 2-1 on a pair of goals by Ryan McCrory of Clarington, Ont.
Scott Watson of London, Ont., replied as the Mustangs took a 3-1 advantage in the second quarter but the Redmen rallied to tie the score at 3-3 in the third on goals by Ryan Besse (power-play) of Aurora, Ont., and Leland de Langley of Orangeville, Ont.
Western countered with a late power-play marker from Kyle Childerhose of Ingersoll, Ont., and headed into the fourth stanza with a 4-3 advantage.
Undaunted, the Redmen rallied again, scoring three consecutive goals – from Kyle Robinson and Connor Goodwin, both natives of New Westminster, B.C., and Sipperly – to take what appeared to be a comfortable 6-4 lead with seven minutes remaining.
The tug-of-war continued with the Mustangs fighting back once more, scoring twice on the power-play. Watson scored with 25 seconds remaining and then Sam Neeb of Oakville, Ont., netted the equalizer with only six seconds left in regulation time.
“This is something that we’ve been working toward for a long time,” said Tim Murdoch, who registered his 102nd career victory in a decade behind the McGill bench. “But to actually pull it off is something else, especially doing it the way we did, right down to the wire, against two powerhouse teams.”
Goaltender Riley McGillis, playing before his hometown family and friends, made 20 saves in net to register the victory, while Zach Grace stopped 12 shots for the Mustangs and was named as his team’s Game MVP.
“It’s really difficult to put what this means into words,” said tournament MVP Brandon McLean, an engineering junior from Victoria, B.C., who put McGill in the gold medal game after scoring the winner with four seconds left in Saturday’s 9-8 semifinal victory over Guelph. “It was really a team effort. We worked so hard to get here and it’s paid off. I think it will take a while to sink in what we accomplished.”