COQUITLAM -EAs the five-time reigning B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League regular champions, the Coquitlam junior Adanacs have won a lot of honours over the years.
That includes home floor advantage in the playoffs, as well as the respect of many.
It's also earned them a target on their backs - one the team wears with pride.
The defending B.C. champs begin their defence in earnest Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. at the Poirier Sports Centre when they host the Langley Thunder in Game 1 of their best-of-five semifinal.
Although they just edged past Delta for the regular season title with a 16-5-0 record, Coquitlam is diligent in its focus on the real prize - being the last team standing.
"None of it mattered up to this point at all," remarked Adanacs head coach Neil Dinsdale. "This is what we play for, to compete for a provincial title and earn a berth into the Minto Cup."
The Thunder wrapped up the opening round with a 2-0 sweep of the Port Coquitlam Saints, including Thursday's 13-6 capper.
Coquitlam earned a first-round bye with its top-two finish. And while his charges haven't played a game in 10 days, Dinsdale said the challenge isn't just about being rested and ready.
"At this time of year you've played 21 league games, it's a long season," he noted. "It's nice to rest the niggling injuries for 10 days and we've practiced hard, but you can't replicate exact game conditions in practice."
Upping the seriousness of the challenge is that Langley won two of the three games they played during the regular season, including a 12-11 setback in late May that ended a 40-game win streak for the franchise.
"I like our team but like anything we have to play well and get the most out of our skills to win," said Dinsdale. "Just like any other game, we need to stay out of the penalty box and be disciplined. In our last game (against Langley) we kind of had a few lapses that ended up costing us."
The Adanacs will be at near full strength, missing the sizeable stick skills of Wesley Berg, who is playing for Team Canada at the FIL under-19 lacrosse championships in Finland. Although his contributions - which included 17 goals and 14 assists over six regular season games - will be missed, the Thunder will be without their top sniper, Reegan Comeault (19 goals, 27 assists in nine games).
For Dinsdale, the end result will all be based on what happens on the floor.
"We've got to keep doing what we do best," he said. "I've told the players that players play and coaches coach - once the ball's on the floor there isn't much that (the coaches) can do."
Game 2 is slated for Sunday in Langley (7 p.m.), with Game 3 coming back to Coquitlam on July 25. If necessary, games 4 and 5 would be played July 27 (in Langley) and July 30 (in Coquitlam).
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