Cowichan Rats battle to second in VILL final

The Cowichan Rats finished as runners-up in the Vancouver Island Lacrosse League. (Paula Harris photo)The Cowichan Rats finished as runners-up in the Vancouver Island Lacrosse League. (Paula Harris photo)
Cowichan Rats Vancouver Island Lacrosse League award winners: MVP Tyson Black, top goalie Ryan Brabander, and top defender Aidan Miller. (Paula Harris photo)Cowichan Rats Vancouver Island Lacrosse League award winners: MVP Tyson Black, top goalie Ryan Brabander, and top defender Aidan Miller. (Paula Harris photo)

The Cowichan Rats rebounded impressively from a devastating loss in game two of the Vancouver Island Lacrosse League championship series, but ultimately fell just short of repeating as league champions.

After winning the opening game in overtime on July 11, the Rats were trounced 14-6 by the Saanich Express in game two last Thursday, setting up a winner-take-all third game on Tuesday night.

The Rats and Express battled back and forth on Tuesday, neither team leading by more than a goal until the final three minutes, when, trailing by one and desperate to get the ball back, the Rats had to change their tactics and the Express capitalized to go ahead by three.

Tyson Black finished Tuesday’s game with three goals, Brayden Zunti scored twice and added three assists, Dan Rabey had two goals, and Mathieu Jung had a goal and two helpers. Josh Hayton added one goal, and Pete Vanden Dungen and Dylan Dewarle each had two assists.

In game two, the Rats got two goals from Jeremy Achtzner, and one each from Black, Hayton, Zunti and Hunter Hieta.

Rats players were honoured with three individual awards after Tuesday’s game, as Black was named league MVP, Ryan Brabander was named top goalie, and Aidan Miller was named top defender. Black finished a close second in the VILL scoring race with 68 points on 41 goals and 27 assists, just two points back of the Express’s Colten Meralainen. Brabander led all goalies in goals-against average (4.73) and save percentage (.832). Miller provided a steady and energetic presence on the back end, reliably scooping up loose balls and running them down the floor.

Lacrosse