St. Catharines Saints Semi-Final Series Schedule


Niagara Metros reach semi-finals before rain hits

The Niagara Metros won three straight games to advance to the semi-finals of the 2014 “Hap” Walters Memorial Tournament, held in Milton over the weekend. However, due to Mother Nature’s intervention, that would be the end of the good news for both the Metros and the tournament. Literally one minute after Dave Davidson and Taylor Anderson hit back-to-back doubles to give Niagara a 1-0 lead in their semi-final game versus the Burlington Brants, the skies opened up. And 25 minutes later, the tournament was washed out. It was the first time since a similar event happened in 2008, that the tournament organizers were unable to declare a champion.

The tournament started out on a powerful note for the Metros, as they blasted the Oakville A’s 12-0, in a mercy-shortened 5 inning game on Friday evening. Niagara scored 1 in the 1st, before exploding for 7 in the 2nd to virtually put the game away. Niagara outhit Oakville 12-5 on the game. Leadoff hitter Phil Steer led the Metros with 3 hits, 2 runs and 2 RBI’s, while Evan Baglieri homered and singled for a pair of RBI’s as well. Taylor Anderson doubled and singled, while Anthony Vacca and Will Nicholson added RBI-doubles. Ricky Ferri (2 RBI’s), Jonathan Paul (2 RBI’s) and Dave Davidson (RBI) rounded out the offense with singles.

Dan Veres battled all game, and managed to hang on and finish the complete game shutout on the mound for Niagara. Veres struck out 4, and allowed 5 hits and 5 walks…but got some key outs, and a couple of big double plays behind him, to keep the A’s off the board. It was his 7th win of the season (against 0 losses). Alex Gowing was the starter and loser for Oakville.

The win over Oakville put the Metros into day 2 of the round robin part of the tourney, and dancing around the raindrops on Saturday afternoon, they downed a tough Ivy Leafs club by a score of 6-3. Niagara got a run in the 1st, and then 3 in the 3rd, to open up a 4-0 lead. They added one more in the 5th, but Ivy rallied to score 3 runs in the 6th inning, narrowing the gap to 2. However, the Metros scored another in the bottom of the 6th, and left the rest up to starting pitcher Geoff Strong, who went the distance for his 4th win (against 1 loss) on the year. Strong allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 7. Brad Grieveson went the first 6 innings for Ivy, and took the loss.

Phil Steer, Anthony Vacca and Ricky Ferri all collected 2 hits to lead the Metros in this one, with Vacca and Ferri adding RBI’s to their totals. Evan Baglieri (2 RBI’s), Dave Davidson (RBI), Jonathan Paul and Chris Anderi all picked up singles in Niagara’s 10 hit attack. Todd Gowan had a pair of singles for Ivy.

The 3rd game of the tourney for Niagara featured a tough matchup with the very strong Newmarket Hawks. And, once again, the Metros struck early…scoring 2 in the top of the first inning. It stayed that way until the 4th, when the Hawks uncharacteristically made back-to-back errors, and allowed Niagara to score a pair of unearned runs, making the score 4-0. Newmarket got their only run of the game on a HR by Dan Telford in the 5th. Otherwise, Niagara starter and winner Justin Ayles was in command of the game.

Ayles, who improved his W/L record to 7-1 with the win, kept the hard-hitting Hawks off balance and gave up just 5 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 6. Alex Bruce was the starter and loser for Newmarket. Niagara managed just 6 hits in this one, and once again it was Phil Steer and Ricky Ferri leading the way. Steer had a pair of singles, a walk, and 2 stolen bases (giving him 5 for the weekend), while Ferri collected a pair of singles and a run. The big hit, however, was off the bat of Jordan Grant, who delivered a 2-out, 2-run single in the first…putting the Metros ahead to stay. Taylor Anderson chipped in with a double, to round out the Niagara offense.

As mentioned, the 3 consecutive wins moved Niagara directly into the tournament semi-finals, where they battled the Burlington Brants until the rains came in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Of note, the Metros’ 3 wins in the tourney added to their already impressive winning streak…extending it to 10 games. It also made their impressive run 20 wins in their last 21 games. Niagara now gets a couple of days off before they return to league action on Thursday, as the Burlington Brants come to town. First pitch at George Taylor Field is set for 7:30.

(Submitted by Niagara Metros)

Canadian Lacrosse League Announce Front Office Additions

NLL Hall of Famer Jim Veltman Announced as CLax Commissioner

The Canadian Lacrosse League (CLax) is pleased to announce that National Lacrosse League Hall of Famer, Jim Veltman has joined the league as Commissioner.

Veltman returns to a front office position as CLax enters its fourth season. “I’m excited to take a leadership role with this league. I enjoyed my time coaching Jr. CLax last season while the league restructuring occurred, and feel that the ownership group has made some great steps as we head into the future.”

The appointing of a league Commissioner is part of the continued restructuring of the league by the ownership group. The new structure will feature a Board of Governors, who will oversee the direction of the league, which will be facilitated by the Director of Lacrosse Operations, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer.

Ownership representative Jay Tober said, “We were not prepared to fill the Commissioners role until we had found the right candidate. Jim brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm to the position, and we are pleased to have him on board for the upcoming season.”

The ownership group, Canadian Lacrosse League Holdings Inc., is dedicated to seeing the league continue to grow the sport of lacrosse. They are passionate about the importance of youth athletics and the power of sport within the community, while continuing to embrace the CLax focus of developing players and promoting the sport.

Niagara Head Coach Jeff Dowlng Steps Into League Role

Coming off of a championship season with the Niagara Lock Monsters, Jeff Dowling announced that he will be stepping out from behind the bench to become CLax Executive Vice-President and Director of Lacrosse Operations.

During his playing days, Dowling led 3 Brock teams to CUFLA championships. He has won 2 NLL championships as an assistant coach (2004 with Calgary and 2008 with Buffalo) and was an Assistant GM with Canada’s 2007 World Championship Team. Dowling also serves as Head Coach of the National Indoor team of Ireland that will compete at the World Championships in 2015. Additionally, Dowling also served as Head Coach of the 2013 Canadian Champion St Catharines Saints Sr. B team.

This announcement comes as part of the continued restructuring of the Canadian Lacrosse League. In this capacity, Dowling will oversee team personnel and the on floor product to ensure that the league is putting forward a competitive, safe, and entertaining game. Dowling said, “I’m looking forward to the challenge that the new role will entail as we continue to build on the success of the previous seasons. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Avengers and the Lock Monsters, and I’m looking forward to the new endeavour.”

Working with Dowling will be Chief Operating Officer, Chad Asselstine, and Chief Financial Officer, Jay Tober. Together, this group will liaise with the Board of Governors to direct the league vision and ensure proper execution of lacrosse and business operations.

Chaos win College Show Case, and League Cup Match

On the weekend of July 11-13, the Niagara United Teamsters Local 879 u15 Chaos girls attended the Cobra FC College Show Case Tournament in Rochester New York.

In their first match, the Chaos lined up against Rochester FC. In a well-balanced game, the two teams battled back and forth where Rochester took a 1-nil lead late in the first half. Chaos team captain Jesse Bellamy wasted no time evening the score with a powerful run down the right side of the pitch, before she roofed a shot out of reach of the Rochester keeper. Midway through the second half, the Chaos put the game away when Tyra Burch finished a scramble deep in the 18 and put the game winner in the back of the net.

In the second match of the tourney, the Chaos played Cobras FC. In a game that the Chaos could have put away early…they struggled to finish their chances and left the Cobras in the game long enough to take advantage. Cobra FC took a late first half 1-0 lead and held on until late in the game when Chaos center-mid Kayla Bevacqua dangle the ball just outside the 18 yard box, and finished a beautiful left footed strike for the game tying goal.

Sunday morning found Niagara playing their third game against their league competitors Saltfleet B. The two teams have never matched up before, although Saltfleet hold a commanding eight point lead on the Chaos in league standings. The Chaos girls scored within one minute of the match to take a quick lead, when Lisa Marko finished a scramble in front of the net, after a corner kick taken by Bevacqua. The Chaos continued their pressure and scored two more goals in the first half, both by Daniela Visca. One, off another corner kick by Bevacqua and the other off a free kick from Erin Girhiny. Saltfleet battled throughout the match, and had a number of close scoring chances…just missing the mark. The final score of 3-0 for the Chaos guaranteed them first place in the round robin.

In the Sunday morning final, Niagara squared off against Saltfleet B again, who got through to the final on head to head play against Cobra FC. The game was fairly evenly played for most of the first half, with Alexa Vasko scoring a beautiful goal, when she was sent on a breakaway by a perfectly threaded through ball by Cassandra DeCicco. The scored remained 1-0 Chaos with four minutes remaining in the first half, when the sky opened up, and the rain, thunder and lightning began. Tournament play was suspended, and when it was clear that no games would be able to resume, Niagara were declared Champions due to their lead when the game was suspended.

Caitlyne Kissmann was stellar in net for the Chaos all weekend, only allowing two goals against in four games. Posting two shutouts against Saltfleet B.

League Cup Quarterfinal Win

On Tuesday July 15, the Chaos girls traveled to Burlington to play the Bayhawks in Cup play. Niagara were clearly focused going in to the match, after their successful tournament play the weekend prior. Niagara attacked offend, keeping the Burlington keeper very active throughout. Niagara took a first half lead when Alexa Vasko sent a cross ball left to right, where winger Lisa Marko finished a run and placed the ball in the far corner of the back of the net.

The Chaos girls were relentless in pursuit in the second half. Vasko and Bellamy were a constant threat, moving the ball back and forth, with overlapping runs and give and goes for great strikes on net. Cassandra DeCicco finally finished a chance with another great strike on net. The Chaos finally put the game out of reach when fullback Nicole Milner lobbed a perfect cross over to DeCicco, who settled the ball for Vasko to one time in to the top of the net from 22 yards out.

Burlington were not without their chances, only to be thwarted by Chaos keeper Caitlyne Kissmann. Kissmann stopped everything thrown here way. In particular, a spectacular left to right diving save where she punched out a sure goal. And finally, in a last play of the game, Kissmann came up huge, stopping a Burlington penalty kick that was awarded for a last second scramble in the box, where Niagara was penalized for a handball.

Niagara’s next match is Thursday July 17 where they host Saltfleet B in league play at the Kalar Sports Park turf field at 9pm.

St.Catharines Saints Awarded 2015 Presidents Cup

The St. Catharines Saints of the Ontario Lacrosse Association have been named the host of the 2015 Canadian Lacrosse Association Senior B National Championships.

“We are very excited about the announcement and we are looking forward to hosting such a prestigious event in Niagara Region,” said Dave Colbourne. “We have a strong backing by our lacrosse community with the goal of putting on a first class National event. St.Catharines is known for its lacrosse history and is the home of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

The week long tournament, involving the top Senior B indoor lacrosse teams from across Canada, is scheduled to take place August 31st– September 6th, 2015 at either the historic Jack Gatecliff Arena or the new Meridian Centre both located in downtown St. Catharines.

In their three years in Niagara, the Saints have had tremendous success winning three straight OLA Sr B Provincial Titles and in 2013 captured their first CLA Presidents Cup National Championship. This year’s Presidents’ Cup is being played in Coquitlam, BC.

(Submitted by St. Catharines Saints)


Metros Win Fifth Straight in Milton

The Niagara Metros outhit the Milton Red Sox 13-5, and took advantage of 6 Red Sox errors, as they downed the home team by a score of 11-2 in Milton last night. The win was the 5th straight for Niagara, and kept them within one point of the Etobicoke Rangers in the overall C.O.M.B.L. standings. Milton actually scored the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the first, but Niagara came storming back with 3 in the 3rd, and 5 more in the 4th, to open up an 8-2 lead. They then tacked on single runs in the 5th, 7th and 9th to win going away.

Geoff Strong started and picked up the win on the mound for the Metros, as he was nearly unhittable after the 2-run first. In total, Strong went 7 innings and allowed the 2 runs, and just 4 hits, while walking 3 and striking out 9. Brian Kusey was very effective in pitching the final two shutout innings, as well. He gave up one hit and struck out 2. Jeremy McDonald, the first of 5 Milton pitchers, took the loss. The Red Sox usually sound defense did not have a good night, as their 6 errors led to 6 unearned runs.

Leading the way at the plate for Niagara was Taylor Anderson, who collected 3 hits and a pair of RBI’s. Anthony Vacca, Ricky Ferri, and Jordan Grant all added a double, a single and an RBI, while Dave Davidson hit a solo HR, his 6th of the season. Evan Baglieri hit a 2-run single, and Jono Marcheterre and Chris Pickles rounded out the offense with a single each. Matt Lahn doubled, singled and added an RBI for the Sox.

As mentioned the Metros, with the win, kept pace with the Etobicoke Rangers (who also won last night) for first place in the overall league standings. Niagara improved to 14-5-1…one point behind the Rangers, who are now 15-4. The Sox remain in 2nd place in the Johnson Division after the loss, with a record of 7-9-1. The Metros get right back at it this evening, as the hard-hitting Erindale Cardinals come to town, for a game at George Taylor Field. First pitch is set for 7:30.

Metros Mercy Brants Behind Clark’s 2nd Straight Shutout

The Niagara Metros pounded out 16 hits and rookie pitcher A.J. Clark took care of the rest, as the visitors manhandled the Burlington Brants 13-0, in a 7-inning mercy-shortened game at Bernie Arbour Stadium last night. Clark tossed his second straight complete-game shutout for Niagara, after also turning the trick against North London, at the Vaughan Tourney two weeks ago. In extending his scoreless string to 12 innings, the 22 year-old righthander gave the Brants just 4 singles and 3 walks, while striking out 2, and improved his ERA to 2.57 on the season. Atushi Urata, the first of 3 Burlington pitchers, took the loss.

On offense, Niagara batted around in both the first and third innings…scoring 5 and 6 runs respectively…to take an 11-0 lead. They then scored two more unearned runs in the 6th, to make the final score 13-0. Leading the way at the plate was Ricky Ferri, who went 4 for 5, with a pair of RBI’s, while Jordan Grant collected a double and a pair of singles to drive in a couple more. Anthony Vacca had three hits and an RBI, and Dave Davidson hit his 5th HR of the year (a 3-run shot) along with a Sac Fly, for a 4 RBI night. Will Nicholson doubled and singled to drive in a run, while Evan Baglieri and Jonathan Paul chipped in with RBI-singles, and Chris Anderi rounded out the offense with a single. Paul Saville had 2 of the 4 Burlington hits.

(Submitted by Niagara Metros)

Metros Walk Off With 11-Inning Win Over A’s

Evan Baglieri’s 2nd hit of the game drove in Phil Steer with the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning, as the Niagara Metros walked off with a 6-5 decision over the Oakville A’s, at George Taylor Field last night. In the most exciting game played this season, the Metros came from behind to tie the game at 5-5 in the 9th, before winning it two innings later. Prior to the 7th inning, the A’s had dominated the game. Thanks mainly to a strong team defense and the one-hit pitching of starter Alex Gowing, they held a 3-0 advantage. The Metros scored a pair against reliever Dan McMullen in the bottom of the 7th, but Oakville got one back in the 8th, to take a 4-2 lead. Once again, Niagara narrowed the gap to one in the bottom of the 8th…and once again the A’s regained their two-run lead in the 9th. But Niagara got an RBI-double from Steer and a Sac Fly by Jordan Grant to tie it in the 9th, which sent the game into extra innings. A scoreless 10th sent the teams back out for the 11th, when Baglieri delivered his game-winning single.

The extra-inning heroics made a winner of Dan Veres (5-0 on the year), who entered the game in the 9th. Veres was nearly perfect in his 2 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit and no runs, while striking out 4. Paul McKenna started for the Metros, and tossed a great game…going 6 2/3 innings and allowing 3 runs (just 1 earned) on 6 hits. He walked 2 and struck out 5. Brian Kusey tossed 1 1/3 innings and gave up a run on 2 hits, while striking out 1. Noah Anderson gave up a run and a hit in the 9th, before Veres came in to quell the A’s uprising. As mentioned, Gowing was sensational for Oakville in his 6 inning start. He allowed no runs, and just one hit (that didn’t come until the 5th inning), while walking 4 and striking out 3. McMullen took the loss.

In addition to the big hits from Baglieri and Steer, the Metros got a great performance from Chris Anderi at the plate, as he collected 3 singles and 2 RBI’s. Taylor Anderson added a pair of singles, and Jordan Grant added a single to his RBI-Sac Fly. Dave Davidson hit another RBI-Sac Fly for the Metros. Mike Modestino collected 3 hits, and Zach Dickson doubled and singled to lead the A’s attack, as they outhit Niagara 10-9.

With the win, the Metros improve to 12-5-1 in league play, and increase their Johnson Division lead to 10 points over the Milton Red Sox. Oakville drops to 5-10-1. Niagara now gets a couple of days off, before going on the road for a makeup game with the Burlington Brants. That game is Sunday evening, 7:30 at Bernie Arbour Stadium. The next home game will be Thursday, July 10, as the Erindale Cardinals come to George Taylor Field. Once again, first pitch is set for 7:30.


Nicholson, Ayles Lead Metros To Win Over Cardinals

The Niagara Metros used season-best performances from Wil Nicholson and Justin Ayles, along with a perfect night from their defense, to defeat the Erindale Cardinals 7-2 at George Taylor Field last night. The game was the make up of an earlier rainout, and was a very efficient and well-played game, with the two teams finishing the 9 innings in just 2:24. The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning, but Niagara got that back, and then 1 more in the 2nd, to take a 2-1 lead. The big rally came in the 3rd for Niagara, as they used 2 walks, the only 2 Cardinal errors, and 2 hits to plate 4 runs, and take a 6-1 lead. The teams exchanged late runs to make the final 7-2. As mentioned, Niagara played errorless ball.

Metros’ starter Justin Ayles got off to a bit of a slow start, allowing a run and 5 hits over the first 3 innings. But from then on, he was masterful, giving up just 3 hits and a walk. In total, Ayles went 8 innings, and allowed a run on 8 hits. He walked 1 and struck out 3, to pick up his 6th win (against 1 loss) on the season. Matt Watson pitched the 9th inning, allowing 3 walks, and the Cards’ second run. Erindale starter Zach Laurin, went 3 innings and gave up 6 runs (4 earned) to take the “L”.

Offensively, it was the Wil Nicholson show for Niagara. The first-year catcher collected a single, double and triple…falling just a HR short of the cycle. He added 2 RBI’s to his career night’s totals. Phil Steer added a pair of singles, while Dave Davidson hit a big 2-run single to open up the game in the 3rd. Chris Anderi added an RBI-single, while Taylor Anderson and Jono Marcheterre rounded out the Metros’ 9-hit offense with singles. Anthony Vacca collected 3 walks. For Erindale, Gavin Rajiva doubled and singled, while Jay Woodford singled twice.

(Submitted by Niagara Metros)

St. Catharines Saints acquire pair of players

The St.Catharines “B.H.I.” Saints and the Brooklin Merchants have completed a deal with just hours remaining before the July 2nd 12:00pm deadline.

Brooklin sends captain Scott Defranseco and defenseman Matt Spanger to St.Catharines in exchange for future considerations.

Scott Defranseco a Scarborough native comes to the Saints after playing 4 seasons with the Brooklin Merchants, most recently serving as their captain. Scott has accumulated a total of 108G 118A and 224pts while playing with Brooklin. He has also been a member of the CLAX Durham Turdogs for the last 3 seasons. Defranseco’s offensive abilities will be a very nice addition to an already potent Saints team.

Matt Spanger is in his inaugural season of the Ontario Sr.B league but comes off a very successful first season with the CLAX South West Cyclops where he was voted to the All-Rookie team. Spanger had 3G 3A and 6PTS with Brooklin before being traded to St.Catharines. Matt brings great athleticism and strong defensive prowess that will help the Saints out the back door.

(Submitted by St. Catharines Saints)