Island lacrosse playoff matchup living up to billing

It’s an old adage in the post-season in any sport, but one that can’t be repeated enough.

“The playoffs are all about making adjustments,” said Victoria Shamrocks coach Bob Heyes.

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The Shamrocks made enough of them Friday in tying the best-of-seven Western Lacrosse Association semifinal series 1-1 with a defensively-dominant 8-4 victory over the host Nanaimo Timbermen at Frank Crane Arena.

That came after the youthful third-seed Timbermen, making their first playoff appearance in 11 seasons, defeated the second-seed and veteran-laden annual WLA contender Shamrocks 12-11 in double overtime in Game 1 at the Q Centre.

Game 3 is tonight at 7:30 at the Q Centre.

“Victoria made adjustments and shut us down and kept us to the outside [in Game 2],” said Nanaimo coach Kaleb Toth.

“We have to be better in Game 3, plain and simple. We have to work hard to get in position to get the ball to the net and get more shots.”

The first playoff meeting in 61 years between the Island rivals is living up to billing.

“Nobody was going to sweep this. Game 2 was only one game and now it’s tied. It could go 1-1-1-1-1 to the very end,” Toth said.

“We didn’t expect a short series. It’s going to be a long one. It’s going to be a battle. Both teams have a lot of pride.”

The biggest tweak the Shamrocks made in Game 2 was in taking away Nanaimo’s fast break, which bewildered the Victoria defence in Game 1.

A lot of that involved getting the Shamrocks offensive players off the floor quicker, and defenders onto the floor faster, after changes of possession.

Another key was Victoria won more face-offs in Game 2 after being dominated in that category in Game 1. Victoria also laid on the lumber, as they used to say in the days of wooden sticks.

“We brought a physical element to our game,” said Heyes, who added that that needs to continue.

Game 4 is Tuesday at Frank Crane and Game 5 Friday at the Q Centre.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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