Special to The Lake Report
The Fort Erie Hawks notched the first goal of the game at home last week versus the U22 Niagara Thunderhawks but that was it as the NOTL squad roared back with nine unanswered goals.
The 9-1 win leaves the Niagara-on-the-Lake team undefeated in Ontario Lacrosse League and tournament play so far this season.
On the road in Fort Erie, the Thunderhawks started a little slow after a strenuous tournament in Brampton two days earlier where they emerged champions.
The Hawks opened the scoring midway through the first period and it wasn’t answered by the Thunderhawks until the last minute of the period.
With the score tied, the Thunderhawks continued putting pressure on the Hawks offensively, generating many scoring opportunities. It seemed the Thunderhawks had lost their mojo, which was in huge supply two days earlier.
Fortunately, that change thanks to the face-off team of Noah Ostromecki, Jack Marotta, Colby Ostromecki and Aaron Wilson which had a 95 per cent win ratio, allowing the ball to remain in the offensive end.
That high possession rate allowed the offence to turn their woes around, scoring eight more goals en route to a dominant win.
Defence has been the foundation of the Thunderhawks’ success to this point in the season.
It starts with the offence putting pressure on their opponents when they have gained possession, providing enough time for the transitioning players to get to the bench to allow the defensive players on the floor before their opponents have the opportunity to enter the defensive zone.
At this point the defensive specialists take over, increasing their pressure with aggressive stick checks, thundering cross-checks and punishing double teams that leave their opponents battered and relieved of the ball.
Defensive protégé’s such as Marotta, Wilson, Liam Gatt, Noah Ostromecki and Liam Dietsch, all rookies, provide an invaluable strength.
That keeps the Thunderhawks energized and prepared for any opponent as well as being the building blocks for future U22 teams.
Mentors Christian Blaylock, Brett Wilson, Joe Fragnito, Trent Hunter, Colby Ostromecki, Sam VanderZalm and Matt VandeLaar round out the defensive core.
Fans can see the Thunderhawks’ defence in action when they play the Hamilton Bengals June 28 at the Meridian Credit Union arena in Virgil at 8 p.m.
The team is working toward its season goal of winning a provincial championship in Oshawa from Aug. 2-4.
All Thunderhawks alumni are invited to the July 9 double-header versus the Milton Mavericks with games at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Andy Boldt is head coach of the U22 Thunderhawks.