Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lakers beat Oakville 9-7 to pull ahead 3-1 in semifinals

Nick Weiss scored an impressive goal to give the Lakers a 4-1 lead after the first period en route to a 9-7 win in Game 4.
(Photo: Tim Prothero)
Goalie Matt Vinc and the Peterborough Lakers struggled in Game 3 of their Major Series Lacrosse semifinal against the Oakville Rock, losing 12-5. Tuesday night, both bounced back with much stronger games to take Game 4 9-7 and extend their lead in the series to 3-1.

Vinc stopped 46 of the 53 shots he faced and particularly strong as Oakville tried to come back from an early deficit, turning aside several good scoring chances to keep the Lakers ahead when the Rock applied pressure.

Dan Lomas opened the scoring for Oakville 7:03 into the game but Cory Vitarelli led the Lakers back with three straight goals in a six-minute span. Nick Weiss scored a fantastic goal to end the first period with Peterborough up 4-1. Weiss sprinted hard to catch and pass Jordan Critch going after a loose ball that was rolling out of the Lakers end towards the Oakville restraining line. Critch made a good play to tap the ball back between his legs so he had body position on Weiss, but the Lakers defender adjusted and fought hard to get the ball. He then drove to the net, ducked his shoulder inside of Critch to create a lane and threw a hard fake on Nick Rose before tucking the ball past him.

Shawn Evans scored a pair of goals sandwiched around one by Oakville's Brett Hickey to put the Lakers up 6-2 heading into the final five minutes of the second. Then Wes Berg found his range and started to score for Oakville. He placed a pair of shots hip high past Vinc's stick side just inside the post to pull the Rock within two goals by the end of the second.

In the third, Berg responded to goals by Vitarelli, Curtis Dickson and Adam Jones, but no one else was able to score for Oakville so they couldn't draw any closer than two goals.

“It's nice to contribute but we didn't get the outcome we wanted,” Berg said. “If I'd started scoring earlier maybe it would have helped and it would have been a different story. We got down early and it's hard to come back against a team like that.”

Berg is definitely starting to feel more comfortable with his teammates in Oakville and vice versa after getting into seven regular season games and now four in the playoffs. “It's a big thing, especially in box lacrosse. You play with so many good players and guys that play differently, it's hard to find that chemistry right away. I think now with our power play we're moving the ball well and getting used to playing with each other. It's good to see and hopefully we can get off to a better start next time.”

Cory Vitarelli (centre) scored 4 goals for the Lakers. (Photo: Tim Prothero)
Vitarelli said it's no surprise to the Lakers that Oakville is giving them a big challenge in the semis even though Peterborough won all four games between the teams in the regular season and finished seven games ahead of the Rock in the standings. “They're a good team. They're not a pushover. I know we beat them in the regular season but it's always different. They're a good team and we expect that from them. It's hard for us and it'll be harder even next game.”

The Lakers were relatively disciplined in the game and it helped their cause. The team will have to remain diligent in that regard, Vitarelli says. “That's something we as a team have always struggled with, but that's the key to winning in the playoffs is discipline. We've been good in patches and bad in patches and it's something as team we need to improve on.”

Game 5 is back in Peterborough Friday night. If Game 6 is needed it will be in Oakville on Saturday and Game 7 would be in Peterborough Sunday if the Rock can win the next two.