Paper City Oaks on quest for North American Box Lacrosse League championship
HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- How ‘bout them Oaks? We are talking about the Paper City Oaks, a first-year box lacrosse team we first introduced you to back in April.
They just won the New England region Championship and are now headed to Chicago for a shot at the national title.
If you are looking for a Cinderella story in sports, look no further than the Paper City Oaks. The team, based in Holyoke, came into this year as a brand-new group in the North American Box Lacrosse League and last weekend, they further exceeded expectations by making their way to the top as champions of the New England region.
“We knew these guys were capable of competing for the championship, but we entered the playoffs as the third seed, so it was a little bit of a surprise to take that title down,” said Oaks General Manager Charlie Edwards.
Edwards told Western Mass News that the team was just looking to be competitive entering the season, but not many expected this squad to go this far. Through toughness and grit, the title went to the Oaks after pulling off upsets against two teams they couldn’t beat in the regular season.
“We had confidence. We knew with our games against them, they were close. We also knew, with the players we had for our playoff run, that it was the best group that we had all season long and we knew we had a shot,” Edwards added.
Billy O’Neill scored the overtime goal for the Oaks in last Sunday’s championship game against the Cambridge Nor’easters, thus clinching a spot in the national tournament in Chicago. Transition player Zach Mann said it was a thrilling feeling.
“Take all of your pads off, throw them in the air, and go rush Billy,” Mann said. “I think we knew that we could make it, but it was kind of just, ‘Are we going to put the pieces together?’ and at the end of the day, we did.”
The Oaks will be among ten teams that won their respective regions, with pool play coming first before the bracket. While knowing they are about to face new teams, Mann said they are making sure everyone stays healthy.
“Mostly, stay in shape. You got a week off. Don’t do nothing for that week or eat bad,” Mann added.
Edwards said he is proud of the group regardless, while also acknowledging how excited they are for what comes next.
“One of the players even got a tattoo a couple of days ago just with how pumped everyone is to see what’s going on,” Edwards explained.
The Paper City Oaks will play their first game of pool play in the national tournament on Friday, August 25 when they take on the Westminster Wild in Chicago.
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