Rock cement NLL dynasty

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

It doesn't matter who is behind the bench.

It doesn't matter whether the philosophy is offensive or defensive.

The bottom line is the Toronto Rock wins championships.

For the fifth time in its seven seasons, the Rock (14-4) is on top of the National Lacrosse League. They beat the upstart Arizona Sting 19-13 in the Champion's Cup final before a NLL record/sellout crowd of 19,432 yesterday at the Air Canada Centre.

"Five out of seven," Rock forward Colin Doyle, named the MVP of the final for an NLL-record third time, said in a champagne-soaked dressing room. "We're a dynasty."

One of five players to play for all five Rock championship teams, Doyle notched five goals and three assists as Toronto tied a season-high for goals in a game.

Really, that big offensive output should surprise no one.

Second-year coach Terry Sanderson strayed away from ex-coach Les Bartley's build-from-the-back out approach and the Rock finished the season with the top offence in the league for the first time.

After a sub-par outing against Rochester in a 12-10 semi-final win, the Rock's big three of Josh Sanderson, Doyle and Blaine Manning combined for 11 goals yesterday.

"Teams in the past might not have had (this much talent), but we had guys in there who just found a way to win and we won defensively," said Rock captain Jim Veltman, who won an unparalleled eighth NLL title. "This year's team, we won with offence and we won with talent. We're a very deep team and when you've got Bob Watson in the cage, you can take a lot more risks defensively. I would hate to try to defend these guys (the Rock forwards)."

The defence, however, did come up big in the third and fourth quarters, holding the Sting off the scoreboard for almost 20 consecutive minutes as the Rock extended a 12-11 lead to 17-11. At the Arizona end of the floor, the Rock bothered 5-foot-10, 265-pound Sting goalie Mike Miron with high and low shots from the outside.

Heavy favourites yesterday, the Rock won its first title at home since 2000 when Kaleb Toth scored a last-second goal at Maple Leaf Gardens.

"We had a few-goal lead with a few minutes left and our assistant coach Matt Sawyer turned to us and said 'look around'," Manning said.

SOLD OUT

"To have it completely sold out like that and everyone cheering (and waving towels), that's something special and something I'll certainly never forget."

With all the pressure on the Rock, the team stepped up in the second half and delivered a typical Toronto victory.

"Once you know how to win, it's hard not to do it," Rock defender Dan Ladouceur said.

"You can't tell somebody how to win, you have to show them. Once you know how to win, you'll accept nothing less.

"This is everything in one game. If you can't put it together for this game, everything (the team accomplished in the season) is out the window. Maybe not for another organization, but for the players in here, it's all for naught.

"Losing wasn't an option."


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