LOVELAND – Cincinnati Summer Box Lacrosse League men’s action wrapped up Aug 9 at the Outdoor Box Lacrosse Arena in Symmes Township, as unbeaten and top seed Traditional Lacrosse took on two-time defending champions Loveland in the league Final.
Traditional Lacrosse, sponsored by Traditional Lacrosse Co. from the Akwesasne Reservation in Canada, came out on top with a 10-9 win to remain unbeaten (10-0) and take their first-ever league title.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. Lots of good teams made the playoffs, but the Loveland guys were gunning for us and I had a feeling if we got them in the Finals, it was going to close,” said team captain Mike Riggall (Bishop Ludden/Potsdam State).
Traditional Lacrosse wielded a supercharged offense that averaged 20-plus goals per game and featured some of the most potent offensive weapons Cincinnati-area lacrosse has produced in the last 10 years. Former University of Delaware standout attackman Sean Finegan led scoring with six points (four goals/two assists), with additional offense generated by current college standouts Adam Osika (Mason/University of Albany), Quinn Collison (Moeller/Bucknell) and Declan O’Grady (Mason/John Carroll University).
Facing all that firepower, Loveland knew their transition players would have to step up to prevent breakaway opportunities, and their defense had to disrupt any settled offensive situations. After suffering their only loss of the year to Traditional, a 24-16 run and gun fest in the season opener, Loveland (8-2) used easy wins in the playoffs to experiment with different defensive schemes that might be effective against Traditional.
“We tried out a few looks on defense during the semifinals – zone, box and one – but ultimately we decided to stick with what we do best,” said Matt Dowd (Loveland/University of Dayton), a former college All-American and the 2012 MCLA DII preseason Player of the Year. “We stayed with in-your-face, physical, hard-nose defense. No one cuts through the middle, no one gets an easy shot, and absolutely no one screens our goalie without getting relocated.”
While the Loveland defense was successful in holding the highest scoring offense in the history of the league to less than 50 percent of their usual output, the Loveland offense was consistently stumped by outstanding play of Traditional goalie Mike Riggall, whose 24 saves in the final earned him MVP honors.
Traditional forward Sean Finegan noted how important their transition players were in setting up Riggall to shine.
“O’Grady and Osika were key for us in transition, getting up and down the box, giving those guys just enough trouble to force lots of less than ideal shots, even on breakaways,” Finegan said. “Box is such a game of inches; we just weren’t giving them any quality looks, and with Riggall red-hot in the cage, they just couldn’t get it past him.”
The Loveland offense was led by Tyler Oblong (Loveland/Essex CC) and Corey Cotsonas (Loveland/Ohio University) with three goals each.
Loveland started the game strong, battling to a 4-4 tie at the end of the first period. But by the end of the second, the Traditional offense had opened up a two-goal lead, which held through most of the third and final period. Loveland battled back with less than two minutes to go, scoring a two-on-one breakaway goal to pull within one.
After a Traditional shot and a save by Loveland keeper Sean Murphy (St. Xavier/Irish Nationals), Loveland burned a timeout with :20 seconds left to pull their goalie and create an extra man advantage to try to tie the game.
Despite two quality shots, Riggall’s MVP performance was just too strong between the pipes, fending off the Loveland man advantage with two key saves. Time expired, and Traditional Lacrosse celebrated as the 2015 Cincinnati Summer Box Lacrosse League Men’s Division Champions.