Editor’s Note: Please welcome Piotr Stalmach back to LAS! Piotr has show off a couple of innovative top strings for us in the past, and now he’s updating us all on the Polish Lacrosse League season, which started up three weeks ago!
Dear All Stars,
Lots of things have been happening in Poland these past few weeks. Kosynierzy Wrocław are the reigning Polish League Champions after a brutal beatdown on Grom Warszawa in the Final game this past May. The league saw three new teams added before the end of Summer, and the Federation had decided to split the league in half in order to equalize gameplay (after some 30:0 games last season). This brings us to two more evenly divided leagues, each five teams deep, with just enough lacrosse and competition to keep everyone playing consistently throughout the season.
PLL 1 Preview
League 1 consists of the best 5 of 7 teams from last season: Kosynierzy Wrocław, Grom Warszawa, Spartans Oświęcim, Kraków Kings and Poznań Hussars. Kosynierzy were undefeated last regular season and went through the playoffs likewise. Their toughest regular season game was at home against Warsaw. In a blizzard!
Warsaw and Oświęcim developed a serious rivalry from the start. Spartans were playing their second actual game and managed to pull off a win against a Grom team mostly consisting of newbies but some National Team talent as well. This sour Grom loss was avenged in their playoff double header. Both games were extremely physical and tough but in the end the Spartans had to settle for the third place game in their debut season (not bad!).
Meanwhile Poznań, the first local team and a Polish powerhouse, riddled with losses of their key players to injuries, dropped from second to 5th place overall in the season. Kraków Kings who have managed to play under a different name for the third consecutive year (first as the Knights, then Dragons) advanced to the playoffs, but lost some of their most promising players to the end of the regular season and got pounded by Wrocław in the semis.
Championship Weekend in Poland saw the rebuilding Kings match up against the angry Spartans, who were hosting the games and wanted to prove themselves after the tough losses to Grom. The Kings brought all they could but ended up losing, with Oświęcim taking 3rd.
The final game was supposed to be an upset, with both Warsaw and Wrocław bringing full squads full of talent. In the end, basic tactics and stick skills won the game, with Kosynierzy Wrocław defending their championship title from the previous year. This year’s regular season consists of a Fall Ball round robin event and Spring Playoffs.
PLL 2 Preview
League 2 consists of the two remaining teams from the previous season: Ravens Łódź and Legion Katowice. The three additions being Ułani Lublin, Korsarze Trójmiasto, and Kosynierzy Wrocław B. Legion was probably the weakest team last season, with only one goal scored agains the Ravens, and most of their losses being at least 0:20. The Ravens definitely have some talent and are expected to lead the league and possibly advance back to PLL 1 next year.
These five teams are playing in a tournament system, with each team hosting two three-way tournaments with no playoffs.
Week 1 – PLL 1 Recap
PLL1 started off three weeks ago with a playoff rematch in Warsaw with the Spartans. Warsaw made some serious adjustments in their coaching staff this off season and it shows! The first quarter was more or less equal, but then things went downhill with Warsaw dominating the field, cutting off the Spartans’ key players from the ball, great hustle for loose balls and some serious shooting. Warsaw wins against Auschwitz 13:3.
At the same time in Kraków, the Poznań Hussars were out to make a comeback. The Kings having recruited heavily this summer and playing at home, versus only 11 Poznań players, they were confident… until the end of the first quarter that is. That’s when things started looking bad. The second and third quarters were basically handed away, only to come back with a solid effort in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Kings, it was not enough. Kings lose to Hussars 12:7.
Week 2 – PLL 2 Recap
The second lacrosse weekend in Poland was in Uniejów, and it was the first League 2 tournament hosted by Łódź. Kosynierzy B and Ułani were in attendance. Now you’re probably asking why would the Championship team split in half and field a B team? Well, their B team consists of players from a developmental youth team and some less active players from their wider roster. Better to let everyone play than have half the team not play at all, right? Ravens won both their games, and Wrocław B won over Lublin.
Week 3 – PLL 1 Recap
What a weekend this was! Warsaw went on the road to Poznań and Wrocław played in Kraków. Poznań was confident after their win with the Kings, and playing at home they were ready to settle the score with Warsaw. Somewhat unsurprisingly, both teams played pretty much the same game as the previous PLL1 weekend. The first quarter ended 2:3 for Poznań, but then something went wrong for the Hussars. I’ve said this before elsewhere, Warsaw’s defense turns on with a bit of lag, but when they do, it’s hella tough to get through to the goal. The same goes for the Grom offense. Once they get rolling, once they remember their tactics, it’s basically over. They settle down and dissect the defense, adding 11 goals and losing only 3 till the final whistle. Poznań gets beaten at home 13:6, that’s their largest loss to date.
The most unexpected thing happened on Sunday. I was “watching” the game via twitter and boy, if it looked as good as it sounded, then it was probably the toughest game in Poland so far. Wrocław on the road in Kraków started off well, but lost the initiative after halftime and let the Kings get ahead late in the game. A frantic finish had them losing 7:9, then tying it at 9:9, and then into overtime. Frantic again, they managed to secure a win in the end with 9:11 the final score. But Kraków finally shows their teeth! What a great show by the Kings, almost leading to a humiliating win. Kraków is definitely on the upswing. Wrocław looks weak after letting some of their players drift to the B team. They were lacking the calmness and confidence from last season and they weren’t playing as a team. They need to wake up and get to work, because the wolfpack is on their tails.
Week 4 PLL Preview
Wrocław travels to Poznań next week and we’ll get to see who learned a lesson from Week 3, while Kings head to the Spartans for a 3rd place rematch looking stronger than ever. Spartans manage to bring a crowd every time and can count on the 11th player cheering them on from the stands.
Stay tuned for more action from the Polish Leagues soon. Get the latest from http://www.lacrossepolska.com and look for Lacrosse Polska channels on Youtube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.