Reds top Gryphons for SOSSA crown
Michael Welsh is enjoying life on the other side of the ball for the Denis Morris Reds.
The 15-year-old, Grade 10 student is normally a defender for the St. Catharines U17 Athletics, but switches to offence for the field game.
Welsh came though in the clutch for the Reds Thursday, potting three goals and adding a pair of assists as Denis Morris topped the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons 12-5 to capture the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (SOSSA) AAA championship.
The Reds now advance to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AAA Festival in Peterborough June 5-6.
“It feels great,” Welsh said. “When I play U17 St. Catharines I don’t get score there.
“It’s a good feeling; I like it.”
Welsh said there is no shortcut to being able to successfully transition from defender in box to offence in field.
“It just took a lot of practice,” he said. “I was prepared coming from Grade 8 and being ready to play. I just put the work in.”
DM coach Matt Vinc appreciates Welsh’s skill set.
“He has a great stick,” Vinc said. “When you have a guy like that who plays a lot (of elite level lacrosse) it’s a great help.
“I think that was his best game.”
Welsh is thrilled to be heading to OFSAA.
“Last year was tough ride,” he said. “We got out in the NCAA (Niagara Catholic Athletic Association) finals but the boys are fired up, I’m fired up, and we’re excited to go to Peterborough.”
Welsh said the Reds have a solid roster of athletic players.
“We have a lot of AAA hockey guys who help, a lot of strong, fast guys who aren’t afraid to get in there,” he said. “We just had a good mentality coming into this year. We were fired up to play.”
The Reds broke open a close game with a dominating final quarter.
“We maybe were forcing some plays and that team was very opportunistic and got a couple of goals in transition,” Vinc said. “It’s how we played all year. We struggled early in games and came on late in the third and fourth. I thought we did really good job at face-offs in the third and fourth quarters and we were able to get extra possessions.”
Vinc feels the Reds have the roster to contend in the coming years.
“Last year we didn’t have too many returning players so a lot of the long sticks were Grade 12s who played last year,” he said. “It was kind of a rebuilding process but most of our skilled players are in Grade 9 and 10. I think that bodes well for the future. We’ll lose some good Grade 12s, especially Ethan Fisher, but we have some good up and coming Grade 9s and 10s.”
Gryphons coach Justin Pychel also has high expectations for his club going forward.
“We’ve got a really young team, a lot of inexperienced players, and we ran out of gas,” he said. “Maybe a little bit more commitment and buy-in from everyone would have paid dividends in the end but I’m really happy coming this far and beating A.N. Myer. That was a tough battle for us and moving forward if we get some of these younger kids to improve and develop, we’ve got a good chance of being here again.”
Reds 12 Gryphons 5
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Michael Welsh with three goals and five points.
For the Denis Morris Reds: Welsh 3; Cody Rudderham 3; Nathan DiPietro 3; Ethan Fisher, Owen Cooper, Evan Purcer-Kondusky.
For the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons: Kalle Bennett 2; Patrick Longboat 2; Nico Longboat.
Up next: The Reds advance to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AAA Festival in Peterborough June 5-6.
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