Nova Scotia lacrosse team wins international tournament in Czech Republic

The Nova Scotia Privateers won the Aleš Hřebeský Memorial trophy in the Czech Republic on Saturday. (Marek Stor/ - image credit)
The Nova Scotia Privateers won the Aleš Hřebeský Memorial trophy in the Czech Republic on Saturday. (Marek Stor/ - image credit)

A Nova Scotia lacrosse team has won the championship of an international men's tournament in the Czech Republic — a first for the team after 13 years.

The Nova Scotia Privateers placed first in the Aleš Hřebeský Memorial tournament, defeating the host team 11-10 in the final match on Saturday.

"We are over the moon," Rod Humphreys, the team's coach and general manager, said Sunday from Radotín, just outside of Prague.

"It feels great because it's the culmination of a lot of work."

The memorial tournament is organized annually by the Custodes Radotín lacrosse club, in memory of former player Aleš Hřebeský. He was killed by a drunk driver in 1993.

It's considered "the most prestigious box lacrosse event in Europe," according to its website.

Twenty-four teams representing 16 countries participated, including Canada, Finland, Israel, Germany, the U.S., Slovakia and Scotland.

The Privateers have been participating in the tournament since 2008. The team finished second in 2018, but this is their first championship.

"[I'm] still trying to find the words for it. It really doesn't even feel real, right?" said KJ MacNeil, one of the team's captains, who has been participating in the tournament for eight years.

"We've been coming here for so long and come close a couple of times, but to finally come across the finish line was surreal. There was a fireworks display at the end and it felt like they were celebrating us."

MacNeil, who is also the technical director of Lacrosse Nova Scotia, said the team practised every week for almost two years.

"Everyone took a role, owned their role, worked hard and did it for each other," said MacNeil, 33.

"We got along really well as teammates and we just put in the work to get here and we're rewarded."

'Brought tears to our eyes'

The Privateers lost 6-4 to the host team to begin the tournament on Wednesday.

They won four in a row to reach the final and set up a rematch with LCC Radotín.

Melanie Carrigan, the mother of Nova Scotia player Zac Carrigan, was there to watch her son play.

The Lower Sackville mom said the arena was packed for the final match. The game was back and forth, she said, and in the last period, it was all tied up.

"The guys just rallied back and decided that was it: 'We're winning. We're not, we are not going to slow down,' and every player on that team plays with so much heart," Melanie Carrigan said.

"It was absolutely amazing to watch. It actually brought tears to our eyes, it was so awesome."

Zac Carrigan went on to score the winning goal for the Privateers in the final minute.

"I kind of blacked out in the third period because it was one of the craziest things I've ever been a part of," Carrigan said.

"It was just going so quick, a lot of ups and downs ... but it was so good to just to beat that team after a really hard-fought battle."

Humphreys said he's looking forward to getting home to watch a replay of the final.

"All I can say is we're extraordinarily proud of what we've accomplished here and you know, being from Nova Scotia, it's all that much more special."