WLA Draft Picks 2012 - 2021
by Ian McNaughton
The countdown is on for the 2022 Western Lacrosse Association Draft. And with Feb. 10 on the mind of every lacrosse fan, we’re going back into the vault to look at some previous first overall picks and the season ahead — the first since 2019.
We start in 2021 — the second straight year when the WLA season was cancelled due to the pandemic — when the Coquitlam Adanacs picked first overall for the third straight time, taking another prized hometown product.
2021 — Thomas Semple (Coquitlam Adanacs)
There haven’t been better goal scorers to come out of BC Junior lacrosse recently like Semple. The 22-year-old from Coquitlam scored an astounding 189 points in 47 regular-season games — an average of more than four points a game — in his four-year BC Junior A Lacrosse League (BCJALL) career. He was also a member of the 2018 Minto Cup-winning Junior Adanacs squad that beat Brampton to clinch the title. Entering 2022, Semple is going to create matchup problems for WLA defences.
2020 — Reid Bowering (Coquitlam Adanacs)
A highly coveted defender from Coquitlam, Bowering is considered one of the top prospects entering the 2022 season. He was a big reason the Junior Adanacs reached the Minto Cup tournaments between 2015 and 2019 — and their championships in 2016 and 2018. Now, at 23 years old, he’ll be looking to continue the success he created at the Junior level in the WLA with a competitive hometown team.
2019 — Christian Del Bianco (Coquitlam Adanacs)
Del Bianco, another product of Coquitlam, is the only goaltender on this list. After winning the 2016 and 2018 Minto Cups with the Junior Adanacs, Del Bianco started his first WLA season with a 1-4 record (as well as an 0.812 SV% and a 10.79 GAA in five games). Maple Ridge Burrards acquired his rights midway through 2019 and he would go 2-3 in six games with a 9.62 GAA and a .802 SV%. After the season, Del Bianco’s rights were shipped back to Coquitlam, meaning he now has an opportunity to lead his hometown team on a potential Mann Cup journey.
2018 — Connor Robinson (Langley Thunder)
After winning the Henry “Del” Delmonico Trophy as the BCJALL MVP in 2017, all was looking up for New Westminster’s Robinson. Taking the silky-smooth forward first overall in the 2018 WLA draft was a no-brainer for the Langley Thunder, who this year are trying to get back to the playoffs for the time since 2015.
In 2019, Robinson finished in the WLA top five for both points (64) and assists (40). The Thunder traded his rights to the Victoria Shamrocks at the 2019 trade deadline and Robinson led the ’Rocks in regular-season scoring and finished tied for second on Victoria in Mann Cup scoring. With the Thunder getting Robinson back for 2022, Langley is eyeing a playoff run this season and he’s a big reason why.
2017 — Tyler Pace (Langley Thunder)
The second of two first overall picks made by Langley on this list, it’s hard to ignore the talents of Tyler Pace. He was a member of the Coquitlam Junior Adanacs and played on the 2016 squad that won the Minto Cup. His buzzer-beater to win Game 4 of the 2019 WLA finals is one of the most memorable goals in recent years as it helped Victoria take a 3-1 series lead and eventually move on to the Mann Cup. Now back with the Thunder, Pace hopes to return to the almost four-points-per-game average he posted in 2018. Should Langley have another winning season, it may be because Pace and teammate Robinson are leading the charge.
2016 — Josh Byrne (Burnaby Lakers)
Byrne was drafted first overall by the Burnaby Lakers at the 2016 WLA draft. In 16 career regular-season games, he scored 12 goals and 33 assists for 45 points. As well, he collected 19 points in six games in Burnaby’s first-round playoff series before. Byrne’s 112 points in 2013 with the New Westminster Salmonbellies of the BCJALL earned him a first-team all-star spot.
2015 — Wes Berg (Coquitlam Adanacs)
In 2014, Berg scored 29 points in the playoffs for the Junior Adanacs, the third most on the team. His efforts helped propel the A’s to the 2014 Minto Cup, where he would score 21 points in six games before the Adanacs reached the final. Berg scored three assists in one game in the finals against Six Nations. In the WLA, Berg scored 39 points in 12 games in 2019, splitting his time between Maple Ridge and Coquitlam. In 10 playoff games that season, he scored 10 points for the Burrards, including a seven-point performance in Game 4 of the WLA finals. Berg’s rights have reverted to Coquitlam, so he’s back with the team that drafted him.
2014 — Tyler Garrison (Coquitlam Adanacs)
Garrison was another member of the 2014 Minto Cup team with the Coquitlam Junior Adanacs. He scored 18 points in 15 games with the Senior Adanacs during the 2014 season in what would be his only year of WLA lacrosse. Garrison eventually earned his MBA at the UBC Sauder School of Business and is now the manager of strategic ventures at BCAA.
2013 — Ben McIntosh (Maple Ridge)
Ben McIntosh scored 42 points in nine games with the Junior Adanacs in 2012 before the Burrards selected him first overall in 2013. He’s been a scoring threat since entering the WLA, putting up 135 goals in 65 career regular-season games with Maple Ridge. He has 224 career regular-season points and has registered at least one point in his last 11 straight games. The 2018 postseason was McIntosh’s best as he posted 41 points in nine games for the Burrards before taking them to the Mann Cup that year. He led the team in scoring in the 2018 Mann Cup with 15 points, including four goals and four assists in Game 1. McIntosh is a threat to score at anytime and anywhere, especially when the postseason comes calling.
2012 — Travis Cornwall (Coquitlam)
Cornwall took home the 2010 Minto Cup with the Junior Adanacs and that was only the start of a storied career. In his draft-eligible season, Cornwall scored 42 goals and 64 assists for 106 points with Coquitlam. He was the obvious first overall selection for the Senior Adanacs. A point-per-game player or better in three seasons with the Adanacs between 2012 and 2014, he returned to the league to play with Maple Ridge in 2019, scoring 16 points in 14 games during the regular season. After scoring five points during the 2019 playoffs, Cornwall’s WLA rights have now shifted back to Adanacs while his brother Jeff Cornwall is an assistant coach with the Junior Adanacs.