The President’s Cup national lacrosse championships have become part of Dan McDermott’s summer routine.
For the third straight year, the Richmond defensive standout is captaining the Ladner Pioneers in the eight-team tournament that starts Sunday in Kahnawake, Quebec.
B.C. has not won the cup since 2004 when the Pioneers happened to pull off the feat. It’s gruelling format that will see them play seven round-robin games over six days. The top two teams will meet for the gold medal on Sept 1.
The Pioneers were overwhelmed in McDermott’s first tournament two years ago and took a step towards contending at the 2018 event in Nanaimo. This will be their best chance yet in a season dedicated to former player Thomas Haydon who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer last October at the age of 36.
Ladner’s deep roster features three Ontario products —Ryan Benesch, Zach Herreweyers and Luke Wiles.
Benesch has been a perennial top 10 scorer in the National Lacrosse League for the past decade.
The Pioneers went 16-2-0 in the regular season then swept Victoria and Nanaimo to capture the West Coast Senior Lacrosse Association championship for the second time in three years.
“We’re just a better all-around team,” said McDermott, during the team’s final practice of the season on Tuesday night at historic Queen’s Park Arena. “The defence is clicking really well and loading up the offence with those NLL guys helps amazingly up front. Having a tandem of two goalies in the back too. It’s night and day compared to the last couple of years.
“But we have to be on our toes and on the ball every single game, especially with no cross-over semi-final this year.”
McDermott added his biggest challenge as a defender is dealing with the high-skill level of the Eastern teams, especially the First Nation entries.
“Thy are absolutely phenomenal. As a defender going against them, you can’t really expect anything. It’s more like expect the unexpected at all times.
“They have been living with their sticks every single day since they were born and you can tell.”
McDermott’s decorated career included playing for Canada at the World U19 Field Lacrosse Championships back in 2012. He was an All-American at the New York Institute of Technology.