(The Sacred Heart High School Varsity Lacrosse team secured their AAA NCSSAA championship with a win over Merivale High School on May 29, 2023. The ‘Huskies’ will now travel to Peterborough for the OFSAA championships being held on June 5 and 6 to play against the best in the province. Photos: Kaitlyn LeBoutillier)
Last year, Sacred Heart’s lacrosse team went undefeated in their regular season and playoff run in order to qualify for OFSAA, the high school provincial championships. With a lot of students graduating after last season, the Huskies knew they would have to work hard this season to defend their city championship.
Luckily for the Huskies, despite the talent they were losing with their graduate students, they were also bringing in many new players. The school is full of skilled lacrosse players from grades 9-12 and they were able to assemble a group of hard working and experienced players on their varsity team.
The benefit of a varsity sports team is the range of ages. While some sports teams are junior and senior, varsity includes grades 9-12 meaning you have experienced players who, in the Huskies’ case, have been to OFSAA before and can lead a team, as well as new grade nines who are full of excitement and anticipation all in one team.
One of these young and excited students is Marcus Kiazyk (#33), a grade nine student at Sacred Heart. Marcus plays lacrosse outside of school and even has experience playing for Team Ontario at his age level. However, even for a player as talented as Marcus, playing against grade 12’s can still be a big jump. Marcus shares that, “At times it seems a little intimidating playing with kids much bigger and older, however, I don’t think too much of it.”
Something that definitely eases some of those nerves for younger players is the reassurance they get from the veteran players on the team. Kiazyk speaks to that as he says, “My impression of the older guys on the team has been great. They all have my back and they encourage everyone.”
As you may have seen in the article we published in April, the Huskies started off their season with an undefeated, championship run at the Spring Thaw tournament, and they didn’t let up after that. They began their regular season with a 7-3 win over Merivale High School. From there, the Huskies kept rolling, winning all their games and outsourcing their opponents 66-12 on the season.
Goalie, Ryan McKeown, (#12) recorded multiple shutouts in the regular season. His dominance was definitely a factor in the Huskie’s success. Goaltending in lacrosse is no doubt a difficult task and can be the difference in big games. Even in high-pressure games such as the city championships, Huskies goalie, Ryan McKeown says, “to be honest, not much goes through my mind in net other than when there are big threats. I try to stay focused by talking myself through the situation of the game.” Ryan’s calmness in these situations is almost as impressive as his performance.
Heading in to playoffs, the Huskies had all the confidence they needed. They proved themselves during the regular season and had gelled as a team. Their first playoff game took place on the morning of May 26th, and they defeated St. Peter’s High School 1-0 in a strong team effort. With that win, they would head to the City Championship for the second year in a row.
It was somewhat fitting that the Huskie’s would end their season the same way they started it. On May 29th, Sacred Heart faced off against Merivale High School in a rematch that the Marauders certainly wanted to redeem themselves in.
The Huskies may have recorded a convincing win in their first meeting with the Marauders, but the would be met with a new team this time. Unlike the Huskies, Merivales team was not full of experienced lacrosse players. Many of the players had little to no experience but through strong coaching and hard work, they managed to find their way to the National Capital Finals. With the stands packed full of fans and their eyes on the NCSSAA trophy, the two teams prepared to meet again.
The game started with a long offensive possession for Merivale. For a minute the Huskies looked like they had finally met their match. But a few saves from Ryan McKeown later, the momentum shifted and the Huskies had their first offensive possession of the game. In no time, the Huskies were up 1-0 on a quick shot off a cut from none other than grade nine player, Marcus Kiazyk.
Over the course of the game, Merivale seemed to always be in the offensive zone, demanding possession the whole time. However, the Huskies offense was too strong. It seemed that every time they actually got the ball in deep, they found the back of the net. Marcus Kiazyk (#33) and Michael Green (#11) both had multi-goal games and with contributions from other players like Callan Dent, the Huskies were able to cash in enough times to find the lead.
Despite the fact that the game felt back and forth, the Huskies ended up taking a convincing 8-3 victory over the Marauders. With around five minutes left in the game, grade 12 Michael Green could be heard hyping up his team saying, “I can smell OFSAA from here”. Needless to say, the team always had confidence in themselves and this season was a business trip for the boys, with the goal of returning to the provincial tournament they got a taste of last year.
Heading into OFSAA, Ryan McKeown says, “Me and the team feel confident that we will compete with the best of the best and hopefully bring home some hardware for Sacred Heart. Although the Toronto teams are always tough, we have a great team this year and a great group of coaches.”
Unlike Ryan and the rest of the returning players, Marcus Kiazyk has never been to OFSAA. However, he has no doubt heard all about it. Last year, both of Marcus’ older brothers, Jacob and Thomas attended OFSAA with the Huskies. Thomas was in grade 12 at the time and Jacob was in grade 10. This year, Marcus will be travelling to the championships in Peterborough with his brother Jacob. On his emotions heading into the tournament, Marcus says, “I’m super excited to go to OFSAA. My brothers both got to go and had a blast and I hope the same for me.”
The youngest Kiazyk even says, “The goal is to go every year and compete for a championship so this is just the beginning.” If there is one thing the whole Huskies team has in common, it is the confidence they have in themselves and each other.
Despite the obvious excitement of the Huskies going into OFSAA, they never expected anything less of their team. They are ready to compete on a bigger stage and we wish them the best of luck on June 5th and 6th as they play against the best in the province! And in the words of Marcus Kiazyk, “GO HUSKIES!”