While most students headed back to campus to start the school year, Marquette men’s lacrosse player red shirt freshman Tyler Gilligan was winning the Minto Cup with the Whitby Warriors.
The Minto Cup, the annual junior men’s lacrosse championship of Canada, features the best teams from Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The tournament, which debuted in 1937, is equivalent to winning an NCAA championship in Canada.
As a defender for Marquette, Gilligan is used to using a long-pole lacrosse stick to keep attackers at bay, but the Minto Cup is not an outdoor tournament, rather, it’s box lacrosse, which is the indoor version of lacrosse. Box lacrosse, popular in Canada, does not allow long-poles, so Gilligan had to go short-stick for the tournament.
Hailing from Whitby, Ontario, Gilligan is no stranger to the indoor game, but needed some time to transition after the long college season.
“It’s kind of an adjustment I guess, especially when I first get home,” Gilligan said. “It took me a little bit to adjust back but we had a couple practices before the season started. Once I got the hang of it again it kind of came naturally.”
Though adjusted, it would be a long summer. To qualify for the Minto Cup, the team had to win in their home territory of Ontario. The season started soon after classes ended, and the team faced the Six Nations team in the Ontario final in August.
Trailing 3-2 in a best of seven series, winning looked hopeless, but the team won the final two games on the cusp of elimination and clinched its ticket to its third straight Minto Cup appearance.
The year before, Whitby lost in the semi-finals to the Coquitiam Adanacs, so this year the team planned to redeem the loss from the year before and winning it all.
Winning all the matches entering the Minto Cup final, Gilligan finally had the chance to win it all, but he would have to get through the New Westminster Salmonbellies in a bitter best-of-five series.
Whitby won the first match with ease by a score of 16-6, but lost the second 9-7. Whitby won game three, which led to an elimination game four for the Salmonbellies.
Game four was a back and forth of lead changes until overtime was necessary. Two goals later, Gilligan and the Whitby Warriors were Minto Cup Champions.
As kids, many dream of winning the Superbowl, playing in the NBA or another sports-related dream. Gilligan’s childhood dream was to win the Minto Cup.
“I grew up setting goals and one of those goals is winning the Minto Cup,” Gilligan said. “Winning the Minto Cup means a lot to me. It means the world to me.”
Celebrations were brief as classes resumed the day after. With classes and training for the 2014 season underway, it was hard to savor the victory, but this is a moment that will be with Gilligan for the rest of his life.