Altona was a small fish leaping into a tank full of sharks at the start of the Lacrosse Victoria men’s state league season.
It had the potential to be an unpleasant season for the newly promoted Vikings as it reacquainted with the elite clubs of Victorian lacrosse, but they have pleasantly surprised with their competitiveness at the level.
“It’s gone a lot better than we expected,” Vikings president Bernard McDonald said.
“We’re competing with most of the teams.
“We’re dominating some games and having more shots, but we’re just not there at the point where we can finish off properly, but that will come.”
With two wins and a draw from 13 rounds, Altona is on track to avoid the wooden spoon.
The Vikings have a better record than two other clubs with five rounds to play.
It is the performances of the inexperienced Vikings in losses against the powerhouse clubs that has provided the most encouragement.
“Losing to the No. 1 side in the country in Footscray first time around was pretty good,” McDonald said.
“We only went down by two goals, but could’ve got up and won.
“They’re undefeated at the moment and we would’ve been the only team to beat them if we could’ve got up.”
Altona strengthened the team that won last year’s division 1 premiership with new imports Jeffrey Kratky and Michael Rhoads.
Kratky, a centreman, and Rhoads, a long pole defender, have added much-needed experience to a largely young roster.
“They’re straight out of the NCAA college system,” McDonald said.
“They’ve come from probably training six days a week and playing the other day.
“When you get people like that come down, the guys sort of step up a little bit.”
The stars for Altona have been equal leading points scorers Campbell Mackinnon and Troy Martin with 29 points apiece. Mackinnon has scored 20 goals and dished off five assists, while Martin has 13 goals and 16 assists.
Mackinnon was recently ruled out for the season with a broken finger, but not before leading Altona to victory over Caulfield in an inspiration act.
“He broke his finger in the middle of the game and ended up playing through with it,” McDonald said.
“He pretty much won the game for us in the end.”
Altona has struggled to adapt following the injury to Mackinnon, losing three games on the trot, including Saturday’s 18-8 defeat to Malvern.
The Vikings will be looking to cause an upset when they hit the road to face second-placed Camberwell on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Footscray’s winning streak stretched to 13 with a nail-biting 11-10 victory over Eltham at Lower Eltham Park, while Williamstown moved up a spot to third with a hard fought 9-6 win over Surrey Park at Mont Albert Reserve.
The women’s state league is still two weeks away from resuming with the competition in recess due to the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup.
Australia, featuring a number of western suburbs players, finished the tournament fourth after losing a thrilling bronze medal game to host nation England 10-9 in overtime.
It was another overtime loss in the semi finals, on that occasion 8-6 to Canada, that cost the Aussies a chance to play off for gold.