2023 Rowcliffe Cup Champs!

by Graham Cousins

The Raiders defeated the Armstrong Shamrocks 2 games to 0 to claim their second consecutive Rowcliffe Cup.

Your Kelowna Raiders hopped the bus last night to take their perfect season on the road, battling the Gold and Green Machine the Armstrong Clovers at their hometown barn Norval Arena. Their rafters filled with banners of glory and success for this well respected ball club, not to be taken lightly if the Raiders are to repeat as Rowcliffe Cup Champs!  
The stands are packed, every seat is filled with supporters of both lacrosse clubs that now step onto the floor to face each other, hats off, lids off, as the majestic beauty of our patriotic song fills the warm summer air.  
The buzzer blows and the game begins as the dynamic duo enters the face off circle and gets to work. #89 “The Jungle Cat” is flawless at the draw. No aces and eights for this QuickDraw Hickok as the ball is masterfully placed to be tirelessly fetched by #6 Joel Escote. The pair prove unbeatable in the circle, but can the Raiders capitalize on possession. 
Both teams take their time getting acclimated to each other, as the seconds of the first tic by, neither team seems ready to jump into the harsh brutality of the battle that is sure to come. Goalies at either ended are harshly gaged and lightly tested by outside shots from green and black alike. Nothing easy is going to secure this W, the boys are gonna have to get dirty. 
Like a shotgun the game explodes half way through the first as #21 Logan Strohm crashes middle and barrels his way to a golden goal to start the game. The Raiders, now feeling the heat, cast aside their poetic, offensive dance and get down to the nitty gritty, banging and crashing into the defence like warm water waves against a rocky shore. 
#12 Andrew Garant breaks free on a high screen “Hammers” home an answering call for Kelowna. Followed quickly by a pair of hard effort beauties by #8 Justin Charlton. “Soup” is getting hot and the kitchen is now open for business.  
Armstrong battles, back and forth, the careful eyeing of opponents is over and the war on the floor has began. Brutal hits and rugged lacrosse on both ends of the concrete ensue leaving a strew of bodies on the floor with every passing length of the floor. 
We enter the second tied at 3 as neither team is willing to give an inch on defence. #5 Jesse “The Mountain” Alderidge lays down gold and green like trees felled in the forest. Jacob Mcmillan and Leigh Kinakin run the floor with second wind, Pushing the fast break hard into the zone. 
The Clovers begin to get over aggressive, Desperately trying to keep up with the pace of play and it begins to cost them. #19 Jacob McMillan pops one on the streak, #91 “The Guelph Gunner” answers with his own patterned low side shot on the fast break, and “The Jungle Cat” sprints the floor like his namesake  to pop another on the run. 
As the dust of the fast breaks settle, the crowd looks down at scoreboard in favour of the boys in black. As they cheer themselves hoarse for the hometown “Rocks” to stay in the game the forgotten chant from the first is doomed to come calling again. “Soups Hot” 
The second is nearly out to rest as the Raiders pound hard against the unrelenting strength and brutality of the Armstrong D. Young and strong, the green machine is not to be taken lightly.  But this is nothing new for the “oldschool” tempered in the smouldering coals of 90’s lacrosse as #21 Darcy “Mr. Thunder” Rhodes drops his Dman in the middle and #79 Pho Heng pulls his man out of the play. #12 Garant capitalizes, walking to the middle around fallen defenders, he pulls pack to shoot as “The Green Monster” #93 Senn steps out to meet the shot. #8 “Justin Charlton breaks to the right side and Garant fakes the shot, hits charlton across the crease ….. “Soups Hot”, ends the second 7-4. 
With twisted flashbacks of Game 1 the Armstrong Shamrocks poise themselves for a comeback. But 3 goals against a brick wall is never easy. #29 Graham Cousins has been MVP great all season and doesn’t look to be slowing down. 
The 3rd begins and the Armstrong Shamrocks turn feral, running the floor like Viking madmen they cast finesse aside and go straight for the jugular. The Raiders are caught flat footed as one, two, three savage goals fill the net in under 5 minutes. The stands are in disarray as the thundering of foot and hand fills the arena. 
#12 Garant, doing what leaders do, takes a timeout to compose his companions. They listen to their captain, they remain calm in the face of violent adversity. They stay poised. The Raiders Defence shuts down the Green Machine and the game settles into a rhythm of hack and slash chess. Neither team able to beat the phenomenal tending at either end. 
Victory often comes from the most unexpected of places. Just ask Sauron…
Shot on Cousins, stopped, the Armstrong O hesitate to get back and the fast break gets sent to #92 the big man, the brawler,  Even Helgesen.  He races the floor with #10 Takaberry on his right. The Raiders have a 2 on 1 with under 10 to play. The brawler looks to pass, fakes, rips top shelf and sinks an outside heater past Senn. 
8-7 reads the scoreboard after the incredible happened and 8-7 is where it would stay when the final buzzer sounded.  Your Kelowna Raiders are back to back champs and they hoist the cup proudly, high to the sky, for the lacrosse gods to see.  
A great game, and even better spectacle 
Was put on by both teams this season. All for the betterment of the game we love.  Thanks to Armstrong for such fierce competition, and thanks to the Raiders Nation.  “Soups Hot” GO RAIDERS GO!