Orono’s Tessa Chad took home her second gold medal in as many years, as a member of Team Ontario at the Canadian Lacrosse Association’s Bantam Girls Box Lacrosse National Championship last month.
The Team Ontario win was made all the sweeter for Tessa, as this was her first year as team captain. The team is made up of the best 13- and 14-year-olds who play in the Ontario Lacrosse Association league. They play box lacrosse, which is played in an indoor hockey arena, rather than field lacrosse.
Players from across the province attended three separate try-outs to make the cut, to get a chance to do battle at the national level. Twenty players were selected from nine provincial associations, with Tessa being the only player from Clarington to make the team.
Team Ontario, the national girls’ team, has only been in place for three years. And while Tessa was too young to play in the first year, she has played for two consecutive years, and the team has won gold both times.
“It felt really good because we won two years in a row,” said Tessa. “It’s kind of indescribable.”
This was the first year that the team travelled outside of the province for the national championships. The tournament was held in New Westminster, BC, from July 23rd to 28th.
“It was cold, but it was worth it,” said Tessa of the long journey and the unseasonable weather they encountered.
Four teams competed for the national title: BC, Alberta, Atlantic, and Ontario. Team Ontario faced each team twice, with only one loss against Team BC. “They won the first one, and we won the second,” explained Tessa, of the first two match-ups with their rivals. Then Team Ontario faced Team BC once again in the finals.
BC scored the first goal less than 30 seconds into the gold medal game. It was a tight and physical game, in which they outshot Ontario 26-22. But Team Ontario battled back, grabbing the go-ahead goal with 8:25 left in the third period, and hanging on for a 4-3 final and the gold.
Tessa, who scored seven goals over the course of seven games, said she was pleased with her performance as team captain, “I felt like I did my job to my full potential and that helped win the gold.” But she was quick to share the credit with her teammates, “The rest of the team played really well, and our goalie was incredible, she kept us in the whole tournament.”
The 13-year-old graduate of St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School in Newcastle also plays for the Clarington Lacrosse Association’s girls’ bantam team, as well as the Clarington Gaels boys’ bantam team. Playing lacrosse since she was four-years old, she has most often played on boys’ teams because girls’ lacrosse was not well established in the past, according to her mother, Dawne Chad.
In September, Tessa will start grade nine at St. Stephen’s Secondary School in Bowmanville, and she plans to try out for the school’s girls field lacrosse team. She has played both girls’ field lacrosse and boys’ field lacrosse in the past. But with the end of the season having just wrapped up for the Clarington Gaels, Tessa has played her last game with the boys.
“This will be the last year she’ll play for the boys’ team,” said her mother, Dawne. “They’re just getting too big, too strong. We don’t want her to get hurt.”
Nevertheless, there will be lots of other opportunities for Tessa. She plans to try out for bantam girls Team Ontario again next year. And in the winter, she will play girls double-A hockey with the bantam Clarington Flames. “Lacrosse is a summer sport. Hockey complements lacrosse,” said Dawne.
While ice hockey is this country’s national winter sport, lacrosse is the national summer sport of Canada. To watch the Team Ontario win on Sports Canada TV, go to http://www.sportscanada.tv/index.php/2011-girls-lacrosse-nationals/75-lacrosse/179-day-5-bc-vs-ontario-gold-bantam.