Community Clubs Lacrosse

Nepean Knights goalie enjoys decorated summer lacrosse season

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By Keaton Hills

Kyleigh Payne was in the middle of a game with the Nepean Knights when her dad pulled her aside during a stoppage in play. He told her there was a phone call for her and she knew it couldn’t have been just a normal call.

That’s when the 14-year-old found out she would be one of the goaltenders for Team Ontario at Lacrosse Canada’s U15 women’s national championships in Regina, along with high-scoring teammate Océane Houlahan.

Despite that interruption, Payne and Houlahan would wind up serving both their club and provincial team well en route to an ‘A’ division silver medal at the Ontario Lacrosse Festival in Durham and gold just days later at the nationals.

Nepean Knights U15 girls’ lacrosse zone champions and provincial silver medallists. Photo: @nepeanlax_girls Instagram

Although she did not get the start in the national championship game, Payne says she enjoyed the experience of being on the bench for what was a dramatic overtime win over B.C.

Payne remembers thinking that the overtime period was a sudden-death affair and being devastated after B.C. scored the first goal of what actually ended up being a wild 10-minute overtime period.

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Houlahan wound up scoring one of her team’s three goals in the extra frame en route to a 4-3 Ontario victory following a tame 1-1 regulation game.

Ontario posted an overall record of 6-1-1 in the eight games they played over the course of six days from Aug. 14-19. That came on the heels of Nepean’s three-day, five-game run from Aug. 8-10 to reach the provincial final, where they fell 3-1 to hometown Whitby.

Nationals provided a challenge that was a level above what she is used to playing with the Knights, Payne indicates.

“It’s a lot faster and a lot more difficult, but it’s so much more fun to just be in that space and experience it,” signals Payne.

Though most of her summer days are now consumed by lacrosse, Payne’s initial interest in lacrosse stemmed from her dislike of soccer.

“My parents were like, ‘Well, if you don’t like soccer, you have to do something else,'” recounts Payne. “So we started with box lacrosse. That branched out into field lacrosse as well.”

When she first started lacrosse there was no designated goaltender and they would rotate positions. When it was Payne’s turn to play goaltender she found that she really enjoyed it, so the next season she asked her coach if she could stick with it the whole year and she agreed.

Current Knights coach Hunter Gibbons says Payne has become a strong performer under pressure and a hard worker.

“Kylie is kind of like the mom of the team within the Nepean Knights,” smiles Gibbons. “She’s played for a long time and has been a really consistently strong goaltender.”

Local lacrosse players gather gold

There were several other local players who represented Ontario nationally this season.

The Gloucester Griffins’ Chloe Chalmers also celebrated national gold with Ontario in the U17 girls’ competition alongside Nepean’s Charlize Danks, while Nepean’s Ryan Cornell was a champion in the U17 boys’ tournament. Nepean’s Mckayla Bell and Gloucester’s Avery May collected silver medals in the U13 girls’ event.

At the field lacrosse nationals, Gloucester’s Zack Chevalier helped the Ontario U17 boys to a perfect 6-0 record and an 8-7 overtime victory over B.C. in the championship final. And Gloucester’s Samuel Pagan and Nepean’s Cayden Lange also participated in Team Ontario’s U13 boys’ field lacrosse program this season.

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