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Pioneers to host field nationals

Senior men's team loading up on talent for Thanksgiving Weekend event at Winskill turf

The Ladner Pioneers are seeking their second national title in four years and they hope to do it in their own backyard.

For the first time ever, the Pioneers will be hosting the top senior men's field lacrosse teams in the country when the Canadian Championships take place Thanksgiving Weekend at Winskill Park in Tsawwassen.

To host such a high-profile event, the Pioneers needed the cooperation of the Tsawwassen Soccer Club which was willing to forgo its annual World Cup Jamboree, to free up the Winskill turf field for three days. The organization has also been busy rounding up sponsors to cover the estimated $10,000 needed to stage the tournament. The Delta Footmen youth program is also doing its part to ensure it will be a successful weekend.

While the Pioneers have been a force at the Senior "B" level in box lacrosse, they have more than held their own competing at the top level of the field version of the sport. Thanks to the contribution of such local standouts as Gary Bining and Andrew McBride, as well as attracting top talent from elsewhere, Ladner has been a perennial threat. The locals won their first-ever Canadian title in 2008 in Calgary and have finished second at the B.C. championships the past two seasons to the Whalley Ballers, including this past spring.

As the host club, Ladner was already assured a berth in the tournament which provided head coach Greg Rennie extra leverage for attracting talent.

His most significant recruit is New West's Jordan McBride, who enjoyed an All-American career at Stony Brook University as one of the most prolific scorers in NCAA history. He also has made an impact since launching his pro career in Major League Lacrosse with the Rochester Rattlers.

McBride and others are expected to compliment a roster that already includes standouts Dane Stevens, Carlton Schuss, Chris Manwaring, Bryan Safarik and junior Islanders star Mike Mallory.

Andrew McBride, who now lives in Calgary where he plays in the National Lacrosse League, has also committed to returning to the West Coast to play for his hometown team again.

Rennie figures he needs the additional talent if his club is to get past defending champion Calgary and Whalley which has passed the Coquitlam Beerhunters to become Ladner's biggest rival.

"They will be the team to beat," said Rennie. "They have an excellent goalie and a very good mix of players. "We're excited with the additions to our team and it should be a great tournament."

The five team event will include two entries from Alberta as well as one from Ontario.

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