One, two or five? How many goals did Vancouver’s Jishan Sharples score for McGill in the Canadian university field lacrosse championship?
Although the number grows with the memory of the Redmen winning their first-ever Baggataway Cup and with the embellishment of legend, the answer, according to Sharples, is “just one goal.”
Even he’s wrong, if modestly so. Sharples scored twice in the final, held Nov. 4 in Nov. 4 in Peterborough, Ont., and one was all McGill was needed.
Tied 6-6 against the Western University Mustangs in a game that had seen a dozen goals and two extra frames, Sharples fired home the winning point in double overtime. Twelve seconds remained on the clock when he ended the game.
The 21-year-old graduate of Lord Byng also scored earlier. In the fourth quarter with 15 seconds remaining in the championship, Sharples gave McGill the go-ahead goal to lead 6-5. The Mustangs answered with one of their own nine seconds later to force overtime.
Since then, website misreports and newspaper errors, championship swagger and exaggeration led to rewritten details. In an interview with the Courier this week, Sharples laughed it off.
“That number just kept growing. It’s bizarre,” said the two-time All-Canadian midfielder. “I had five goals at one point. I’ve seen as ongoing joke about the number of goals I’ve scored.”
Besides, he said, he didn’t win the game alone.
“The points don’t really mater. It was total team effort. Everybody played their role. Some of our top scorers did not get any points but they did their part by drawing away top defenders,” said the six-foot-one sharpshooter. “All the players, we don’t really care about the stats at all. It’s about the win.”
On Dec. 12 Sharples was the first in McGill history to be named the most outstanding player in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association. He had 17 goals and three assists for 20 regular season points.
When he was five, Sharples was introduced to lacrosse by his father. At a soccer camp on the East Side, Paul Sharples, once a standout-out player in Victoria, picked up a pamphlet for the Vancouver Killarney Minor Lacrosse Association. He equipped his son, helped coach, cheered and then watched from the family home in Dunbar as McGill battled for a national championship last month.
“He usually comes out for as many games as he can,” said the younger Sharples, “but watching the final online, right when overtime came when I scored the final goal, the stream cut out.”
With the feed down for no more than 10 seconds, the father missed his son’s goal. The announcers filled in the blanks.
“He’s been one of the biggest support systems for me,” Sharples said about his dad. “He’s such a great leader and someone to look up to.”
As a bantam player, Sharples left the Killarney association for Burnaby Mountain Selects, a highly competitive program focused on U.S. tournaments frequented by NCAA scouts. The ambition is to score athletic scholarships, which Sharples also actively pursued. He was recruited by 18 schools. Academics were as important as athletics, he decided. Now a finance major, he will graduate next semester with a goal to work in management consulting.
Since childhood, he was set on attending the University of Western, his mother’s alma mater, and playing for the Mustangs. A 30-minute conversation with the Redmen’s head coach Tim Murdoch convinced him McGill was the right fit. (CUFLA is active in Ontario and Quebec. In B.C. Simon Fraser plays in the primarily U.S.-based Pacific North West Collegiate Lacrosse League.)
He is still true to another childhood allegiance. Sharples eats 16 — no more no less, colour irrelevant — Jelly Belly jelly beans before each match. A habit picked up on a word of advice from his dad, the high-calorie superstition is a source of sugary energy and confidence.
“I picked 16 because it was my lucky number. It was my dad’s number,” said Sharples, who wore No. 16 before he switched to No. 7.
The candy calories draw guffaws, he said. “Most people just laugh. I just offer them some. Right before a big game, I’m just munching on jelly beans.”
That’s 16 candies and two goals, for the record.