Day 2 of the 2016 European Championships is in the books! (Psst: Click here if you missed day one) With the heavy rain and lightning now a thing of the past, day two provided for an amazing atmosphere for the Creator’s Game here in Europe. A major concern moving forward after the storms the day prior were the conditions of the fields. Would the games even be able to continue?!?!?
With two of the four 2016 European Championship fields being grass, and Hungary seeing an abnormal amount of rain for this time in the summer, these fields were the two-wild cards heading into the second day. Big shout out to the grounds crew who did a phenomenal job in preparing the fields for the2016 European Championships! I have played on my fair share of fields/surfaces in nearly every possible weather conditions. The work done prior to any event determines the durability of any field, and my hat goes off to the staff here.
Photos by Oskar Polak, Sniper Pix
Still, there is so much more lacrosse to be played, but after the day one storm, I for one, was skeptical of how the facility would hold up and how that may affect the tournament moving forwards, but my pessimism proved wrong. Phew!
The LAS crew stayed put at the main facility catching some great games and performances.
Norway vs Wales kicked off the morning with the game of the day. A tight 6-5 bout found the Norwegians on the losing side of the ball, but anyone who watched would have agreed either team could have won this contest. This game had many momentum swings as teams’ energy levels raised and dropped in response to the play on the field, as well as the heat, and those emotions were certainly matched by the fans!
Wales dominated the play at the “X” which always has a positive influence on the outcome of the game, but with sloppy clearing at times and a desire to hit a “home-run” pass, the opportunistic Norwegians fought their way back into the game, chipping away at a 6-3 deficit in the second half, to reach 6-5 with under 2 minutes left. In the end the Welsh prevailed, and rightfully so, but I would be hard pressed to not give credit where credit is due, and the boys from Norway certainly played their hearts out.
Performance of the day went to Norway goalie, Ragnar Haarr, for without his heroic play between the pipes, the Norwegian boys may not have climbed back into position to take the win.
The second game we caught today certainly was not the most exciting of games as the Czechs showed no mercy against the Italians, taking the victory 20-1 with ease. The Czechs’ ball movement was on point in the offensive end and with a commanding presence during this game from their face-off specialist, the Italians never stood a chance. The term, “pepper the net” came to fruition as the Czechs put in a quick 5 goals in the first followed by 8 in the second quarter off generating 30 plus shots in the first half alone.
I tip my hat to the Italians. They battled hard and when the going got tough the boys stayed together. Italian goalie Roberto Soatto showed incredible poise as his defense let up great shot opportunity after great shot opportunity. I’ve seen goalies toss in the towel after seeing 30+ shots in a half and letting up 13 goals, but Roberto revealed his true character, the character of a true winner, never showing frustration. He channeled all of his energy to the “next play” and that mentality was inspiring to see. Hats off to you Roberto!
In regards to the Czechs moving forward, I am curious to see how they will perform against the higher level teams. We saw them play Latvia to a somewhat close game (Latvian play “down the middle” – goalie and face-off secured that game) the day prior. Against the Italians, long methodical possessions layered with timely/opportunistic goals mapped a recipe for success with the Czechs. Given their high level of box experience and a knack for a high paced offense, the Czechs seem to pose a threat to many teams out here. BUT I will say that with a more deliberate attack unit, which is not a predominantly athletic group, they may have to rely on their midfield play moving forward against bigger/stronger defensive competition, and for that reason I feel they will struggle greatly against the top tier teams (England, Germany, etc) in their group.
I believe the box game does a phenomenal job in developing “x” skills given the speed of the ball, pace of play and the small sized rinks (relative to the field) BUT it consequently does not demand for dominant athletic play in the midfield. (there is no midfield in box, so it makes sense!) The distance from the goal at which you play is much different than on a box rink and for that I see a lack of full understanding of midfield play and its roll in an offense when the attack unit is neutralized. They face-off against England in their next game putting my hypothesis to the test.
Hungary met their match at the face-off “X”, which was a major factor in their inaugural win against Italy the day prior, in a two-headed monster from Germany. The combination of two very aggressive, powerful and explosive draw-men wore down George Rohancy and with subpar wing play by the Hungarians, the Germans were able to gain, what seemed like, every possession after a goal. Momentum was certainly in favor of the boys from Deutschland after a disappointing loss to England on Thursday. It was obvious that after their prior loss to England these boys meant business and they displayed that Friday night with an 18-1 victory over the first year andHungary, host nation of the 2016 European Championship.
As to the games we unfortunately missed, Scotland took it to Denmark winning big, while the English met their match with Latvia. Although the boys from the UK came out on top 13-10, the Latvians proved that these boys are in fact human and can bleed! Certainly disappointed to have missed this match but I am almost certain it will not be the last time these two squads line up against one another in the 2016 European Championships. They would both have to make the finals for it to happen, but I can’t rule it out! Latvia looks GREAT so far.
Day 2 Results
Day 2 Photos
Photos by Oskar Polak, Sniper Pix
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