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Lacrosse players from across British Columbia have, once again, filled the rosters of teams in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association.

By: Claudia Larouche

The fall is always an exciting time of year for players in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association. ?

That’s when they wear their school’s jerseys, grab their sticks and try to win the league’s Baggataway Cup over the course of an always-competitive season.?

McMaster University is the perfect example of the increasing parity in the league. Mac won the 2010 CUFLA championship, despite being the fourth-seeded team in the western division in the regular season.?
It’s the same story in the eastern division, as Carleton University made its first appearance in the playoffs in four seasons in 2010.?
“McMaster was a Cinderella story last season, they were fourth seed that had an incredible playoff run”, said Tim Murdoch, McGill University’s head coach. “The watch word for CUFLA in 2011 is ‘parity’, we expect eight teams battling for the national title.”?
Murdoch expects five squads in Ontario to be favoured for the 2011 CUFLA championship: the University of Western Ontario, Brock University, University of Guelph, Western and McMaster, while in the East, Bishop’s University and Carleton will compete with McGill. ?
“Look for Western to have a big push given they are hosting the Baggataway Cup [on Nov. 5-6],”, said Ryan McGrath, CUFLA’s commissioner. “With each team recruiting from coast to coast, the quality of play continues to improve with each season.”?

Part of the increasing level of competition and quality of play is thanks to players from British Columbia, who chose to study in the East and play in CUFLA instead of NCAA in the United States. ?
“More and more BC student athletes are choosing CUFLA, which in many cases is more affordable than the typical U.S. scholarships,” said McGrath. ?
This is one of the reasons why New Westminster’s Kyle Robinson chose to pursue his academic and sports careers at McGill.?
“I wanted to play in the NCAA, and study and play lacrosse in a school that offered a reputable degree, said Robinson, a defenceman. “McGill ended up being the best choice, because it is strong academically and I am able to continue playing lacrosse at a collegiate level, and it is a lot less expensive that most high-end American universities.”?
With five players from BC, including Robinson, on the Redmen’s roster for 2011-12, McGill has the largest number of British Columbians in the league.?
According to Murdoch, they combine mental and physical toughness, a winning attitude as well as a high level of skills.?
“They are typically gifted box lacrosse players,” he said. “The majority of them play box lacrosse that is popular in BC, but they convert easily to field lacrosse.”?

Simon Fraser is the only university in British Columbia that has a lacrosse team, and it plays all of its games in the U.S and recently announced plans to join the NCAA.?

In addition to lower tuition fees, CUFLA offers other advantages for Canadian lacrosse players, who wish to study and stay north of the border.?

“It offers a league that maintains strong competition while allowing the players to focus on their studies and not having the enormous time commitment [CUFLA’s season runs from September to November] associated with NCAA sports,” said Robinson. ?

McGill is committed to recruit a larger number of student athletes from BC, and Murdoch is planning the university’s first-ever recruiting trip to the West Coast in 2012. ?

“I hope to see even more great BC players consider CUFLA as an affordable high quality option for both their academic and lacrosse aspirations,” said McGrath.?

CUFLA’s 2011 season officially opens on Sept 18th with the Great Canadian Lax Bash at Wilfrid Laurier University. ?The lacrosse festival will have three CUFLA games, as well as Laurier’s women’s team, the reigning Canadian champions, playing Monroe Community College, NJCAA champions.?

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