Rockin' the arena

CHRIS DOUCETTE -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Lacrosse fans packed the ACC and nearly blew the roof off yesterday as the Toronto Rock crushed the Arizona Sting to win its fifth league championship in seven years.

The Rock beat the Sting 19-13 in front of a record crowd of 19,432 screaming spectators, who cheered wildly and waved white towels with each bone-crushing hit, lightning-fast pass and blistering shot on net.

"What an absolutely exciting game," Rod Pilon of Oakville said over the deafening applause as the final seconds wound down and everyone was on their feet.

The 38-year-old -- one of the Rock's 8,000-plus season ticket holders -- was concerned at the start of the season "because the team was so small," but the Rock really surprised him.

"The small guys are really tough and the whole team hustled all season," said Pilon, at the game with his brother.

Even the few Arizona fans on hand enjoyed the game, although they would have preferred a different outcome.

"It really was a great game," dejected Sting fan Dan Dozz, 31, of St. Catharines, said after the match, adding he was still proud of the Arizona squad for getting to the final.

"The Rock played really well," said Ryan Jamieson, an ecstatic Rock booster from Scarborough. "They had great goaltending and defence and made the most of every opportunity."

The action-packed championship game was the first National Lacrosse League game Burlington native Brian Hennessey had seen live, but it certainly won't be the last.

"I'll be back next year for sure," the 34-year-old said. "It was 10 times better than Leaf games I've ever been to."

Many in attendance agreed, explaining they've turned to lacrosse to fill the void left by the National Hockey League lockout and say they enjoy the fan-friendly atmosphere.

The crowd, a solid majority kids and young adults, was engaged from the opening face-off to the final buzzer by loud music, cheerleaders and the game announcer urging, "Make a little noise for your boys!"

Jacqueline Butler of Richmond Hill admitted she's more of a basketball and hockey fan, but she has "more fun" at lacrosse games.

"It's way more exciting and not as stuffy," said the 28-year-old high school teacher.


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