By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
It will be difficult for the Oshawa Outlaws to top their first season in the Arena Lacrosse League (ALL), but head coach and general manager Steve McCarthy is optimistic.
Last April, the Outlaws were crowned champions of the inaugural ALL season, and McCarthy says a large core of that successful squad remains today.
McCarthy attributed the team’s successful season to a very athletic roster of players, proficient both offensively and defensively, and excellent goaltending from Zach Higgins and Lukas Coote.
Unfortunately for the Outlaws, that level of play afforded Higgins and Coote other opportunities and both have departed from Oshawa for the 2018 season.
According to McCarthy, the 2018 season has been an “up and down” affair so far, as the Outlaws reeled off three wins to begin the year, but have dropped their last three, including a 15-11 road loss to the St. Catharines Shockwave on Feb. 3.
Although McCarthy is optimistic about his team’s chances to repeat, competition within the ALL is high with only seven teams in contention.
“There are always a number of teams with a good chance,” he says.
The ALL, which serves as a developmental league for the National Lacrosse League, rose from the ashes of Canadian Lacrosse League which ceased operations in August 2016 after league officials decided it was no longer viable to continue on.
The Outlaws were among six franchises awarded for the first season, along with teams in Paris, Toronto, St. Catharines, Peterborough and Six Nations (Hagersville, Ont). The Whitby Steelhawks were added as the seventh team for this season.
Playing out of the Tribute Communities Centre in 2017, the Outlaws now call Children’s Arena home, with McCarthy saying the league wanted to find smaller venues to keep costs in check.
Overall, McCarthy says community support has been solid, especially considering the team has only been in existence for a year.
“The crowds [at Children’s Arena] have been pretty good,” he says, adding that having several players from Durham Region will likely help raise the team’s profile.
The Outlaws are back in action this Saturday against the St. Catharines Shockwave and return home on Friday, Feb. 9 against the Toronto Monarchs.
For more information, visit arenalacrosseleague.ca.