McGill Redmen (10-0)
McGill had a run of success unprecedented in school history, completing their first undefeated regular season while rarely being challenged. They won eight games by margins ranging from 5 to 22 goals. The only real tests came against Bishop's, whom they downed 10-8 and 10-9. They have All-Canadians up and down the lineup, from goalie Riley McGillis out. Attack Kevin Donovan (Bethany, Connecticut) led CULFA East scorers with 28 goals while Alex Rohrback (Princeton Junction, NJ) had 15 goals and 6 assists. They got plenty of scoring help from the midfield as well, particularly from All-Canadians Connor Goodwin (New Westminster, BC), who scored 18 times and led the team with 14 assists. It all added up to 159 goals in 10 games for the highest goals per game average in CUFLA.
But the Redmen are far from just an offensive powerhouse. They also allowed just 56 goals, fewest in CUFLA and second in goal allowed per game to Brock. The defensive success is largely attributable to McGillis' excellence, but he had plenty of help from a stingy group in front of him, including all three specialist All-Canadians and a pair of All-Canadians on defence.
Part of the reason the Redmen are so successful is they recruit very well, drawing players from all across Canada and many from the United States. They've gotten across to players the advantages of playing high level lacrosse in the Canadian university system.
The major challenge they'll confront as they try to defend their 2012 Baggataway Cup title is the lack of challenge they've had so far this year. Facing Western will represent a huge step up in talent from most of the teams they've played so far. To help address that issue, Head Coach Tim Murdoch has again dipped south of the border, scheduling his club to play a trio of American Division 3 schools. McGill lost to RPI but won games against Plattsburgh State and Linden State. The Redmen will have to hope those games and the tough contests against Bishop's have sufficiently prepared them for the Baggatway.
As the 1st seed in CUFLA East, McGill is already booked in to the semi-finals on Saturday against the winner of the quarterfinal game between Western and Queen's. McGill defeated Queen's 14-6 and 14-8 in the regular season. McGill and Western have not faced each other this year.
Alex Rohrbach – Attack
Kevin Donovan – Attack
Connor Goodwin – Midfield
Brandon McLean – Faceoff specialist
Ossie Long – Defensive midfield
Quinton Bradley – Long stick midfield
Hayden Nix – Defence
Paul Rakoczy – Defence
Riley McGillis - Goalie
Leland de Langley – Midfield
Bishop's Gaiters (7-3)
The Gaiters won the Baggataway Cup two years ago and are serious contenders to take another title this year. Don't let their three losses fool you into thinking they are a big step below the teams that haven't lost as often. The first was an early-season game against Queen's in which they got off to a slow start and dug too deep a hole to come all the way back, falling by a single goal. Their losses to the powerful McGill side were close and could have gone either way.
Bishop's can score, led by CUFLA's points-per-game leader Alex Henderson (Ennisillen, Ont.). He scored 22 goals but was even more valuable as a set-up man, earning 30 assists by drawing heavy defensive coverage and spreading the ball around to his teammates. James Malloy added 20 goals and five other players scored at least 10. The Gaiters totaled 152 goals, just seven fewer than the Redmen.
The challenge for them will be to cut down a goal or two per game on the defensive side, where they allowed 72 goals (16 more than McGill). They need to find a way to hold high-quality opponents to fewer than 10 goals. They have the capability to do so, led by the likes of All-Canadians Andre Laleune (Herring Cove, NS) and Nicholas Brands (Woodstock, Ont.) The key will be getting off to better starts than they have tended to this season.
Bishop's will face the Guelph Gryphons in the quarter finals on Friday. The teams have not met this year.
Alex Henderson – Attack
Andre Laleune – Midfield
Nicholas Branda – Defence
James Malloy – Attack
Brett Conway – Midfield
Mason Geldart – Defensive Midfield
Andre Laleune – Faceoff specialist
Ben Silverman – Long stick midfield
Ross Wills - Defence
Queen's Golden Gaels (7-3)
Queen's has had the best season in the program's history and is making its first trip to the Baggataway Cup. That neophyte status, along with their 3rd place standing, marks them as significant underdogs at the big dance. They'll be facing an uphill battle as they try to take the next step, but don't expect them to just roll over for anyone.
Alex Wright and Bendan Zoehner have good chemistry up front. Wright is dangerous as a shooter and a passer, and Zoehner has nice touch in close; he led the team with 22 goals. They also get strong offensive support from rookie midfielder Nick Weiss. Weiss, a second-round draft choice of the National Lacrosse League's Vancouver Stealth, got better and better as the season went on and finished with 16 goals. He's also a terrific ball carrier and defensive presence, bringing plenty to the table all over the field.
Stopping their opponents from scoring too much will be the biggest test for the Gaels. They surrendered 86 goals, even with a pair of games each against relatively weak Concordia and Carleton. They have a good last line of defence in All-Canadian Honourable Mention goalie Alex Guiney. Their defence can be effective at even strength. Discipline will be critical as they'll have a hard time containing the power plays of the top clubs.
W88Queen's faces the formidable Western Mustangs in the quarter-finals on Friday. If they can win that game, things won't get any easier as they'll have to take on mighty McGill, who beat them 14-8 and 14-6 in two regular season games.
Honourable Mention All Canadians
Alex Wright – Attack
Alex Guiney – Goalie