It's Canada's national summer sport, yet many Canadians know little of how the game of lacrosse is played, or of its origin.
On Sunday, at Art McQuat Field in the rain, the Westwood Warriors showed how the game is played, as they downed the Vincent Massey Trojans 9-3 and then beat the Transcona Titans 9-1 in two of four Manitoba High School Field Lacrosse League encounters.
"One of the first Canadian-recorded references to the activity of lacrosse appears in the 1636 journals of Jesuit missionary, and martyr, Jean de Brébeuf," according to the Canadian Encyclopedia website (www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com). "While many accounts allege that Brébeuf gave the sport its name based on the fact that the stick resembled a bishop's crosier, his own writings mention nothing of the similarity."
Regardless of whether Brébeuf was the first non-native Canadian to witness the sport, it is steeped in history.
"One of the most famous legends involving lacrosse," says the encyclopedia, "is Pontiac's rebellion of 1763, in which the Ottawa chief reportedly staged a game in order to distract British soldiers and gain entry to Fort Michilimackinac, in what is now Michigan."
The game has come a long way since Brébeuf's time, but Westwood showed Sunday why they are the cream of this MHSFLL season, so far at least.
Jesse Ouellette, 16, scored three goals in Westwood's 9-3 victory over Vincent Massey. "I've been playing this game all my life," he said, adding he has been playing field lacrosse for only two years. "I play (box) lacrosse for the Shamrocks. I like field better, there's a bigger net, its easier to shoot at, and there's a lot more room to move."
In other action Sunday, Vincent Massey tied the Garden City Fighting Gophers 4-4, and the Sturgeon Heights Huskies played to a 2-2 tie with the West Kildonan Wolverines.
"The (field and box) rules are the same, but there is a big difference," said Westwood coach Brian Vandette. "In box the game in played inside a hockey rink, it's a lot closer, and they can use rebounds and everything else."
"I think this is a rougher game than box," added Ouellette. "There's a lot more slashing."
Also scoring goals for Westwood, against Vincent Massey, were Kent Craig with a pair, Cole Selin, Keegan Scott, Morgan Winchar and Tyler Teather.
The Trojans got two goals from Sam Wladyka and one from Robbie Wladyka.
Three Warriors, Scott, Teather and Josh Kazuk, had two goals each against Transcona, with singles going to Selin, Winchar and Kendall McDonald. Cole Matthes replied for the Titans.
Vandette praised his Grade 11 midfielder. "Ouellette is a very tenacious, skilled, smart player. His ball-handling is great, he passes well and has the ability to see the field."
The Trojans got three goals from Sam Wladyka and one from Robbie Wladyka in their tie with Garden City. The Gophers replied with three goals from Nathan Koswin and another from Brandon Buck.
Mark Guzej and Dylan Vince scored for Sturgeon Heights in their tie with West Kildonan, while Matt Garvey and Eric Timlic scored for the Wolverines.