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Girls boxla ready for takeoff

In terms of sporting reputation, Victoria is known as a soccer and rugby hotbed and also as a cycling, running, rowing and sailing mega-centre.
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Campbell River's Selena Lasota fires a shot past Team Alberta goalie Tiana Machado during round-robin action Monday.

In terms of sporting reputation, Victoria is known as a soccer and rugby hotbed and also as a cycling, running, rowing and sailing mega-centre.

And it's also certainly a lacrosse town, well known in the sport for its fan support for the Shamrocks and for producing players such as the Gait twins.

So why does female box lacrosse lag in popularity on the Island?

In an effort to address that, the Canadian bantam and midget girls championships are taking place this week at Bear Mountain Arena.

"Girls box lacrosse is not big on the Island, but there are more than 600 girls playing on the Lower Mainland," said Ron McQuarrie of Victoria, vice-president of performance programs for the B.C. Lacrosse Association.

"On the Island, I think it's mostly a case of demographics."

But that hasn't stopped four Island players from cracking the B.C. roster for the national tournament - Selena Lasota, Laura Gosselin and Talia Mavin on the provincial midget team and Elle Hamilton, daughter of former Shamrocks player Grant Hamilton, on the B.C. bantam squad.

All four of them have played or play on boys' boxla teams.

"I dream of playing in the [pro] NLL," said 15-year-old goaltender Mavin, who plays on the West Shore boys' Midget 'A' team and is entering Grade 10 in the Claremont Secondary lacrosse academy program.

Lasota is a centre with the Campbell River Ravens Midget 'B' team and entering Grade 11 at Carihi.

"The boys' game is much faster," she said.

"So it seems a lot less pressure here against the girls," added Lasota, but noted she is greatly joining the camaraderie.

The Spectrum student Gosselin is a 16-year-old shooter who thrives in both the box and field versions of the game.

"I'm concentrating on getting a U.S. collegiate [NCAA] scholarship in field lacrosse," she said. "It's a big thing down there because they have to match with the girls the same number of athletic scholarships given to the boys."

But the box game still gives thrills.

"I was an energetic kid and when my mom was looking around for a sport to put me in, she went on the Internet and saw box lacrosse advertised as 'the fastest game on two feet' and thought that would be good for me," said Gosselin, who has never looked back.

"The game is such a rush and so fast. When you get a breakaway, there is no feeling quite like that."

The Island trio has helped the B.C. midget team get off to a 3-0 start in the national tournament with Ontario at 2-1, Alberta 1-2 and Nova Scotia 0-3. On Monday, B.C. beat Ontario 7-0 and Alberta 3-2.

The B.C. bantam team, with Islander Hamilton, is 2-1 after an overtime loss to Ontario on Monday. Ontario leads at 3-0, while Alberta is 1-2 and Nova Scotia 0-3.

The round-robin continues today and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days at Bear Mountain Arena, with the gold-medal games Thursday with the bantam final at 11: 30 a.m. and the midget final at 1 p.m.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com