The top match in the first round of the Bundesliga Nord in Germany took place this weekend. The reigning German champion, HTHC Hamburg, met a BHC Berlin strengthened with national players. Matthias Lehna and Gustav Weber talked to both coaches before the big game and put together a game report in pictures.
HTHC Hamburg vs. BHC Berlin
Meet The Coaches
Pete de Santis
Career: Seton Hill University (2006 -2010), HTHC Hamburg (2011 – today)
Status: German U19 National Coach/ German Sixes Coach, Head Coach HTHC Hamburg
Career: GCU, Grand Canyon University (Founder Lacrosse Program 2009), 2011 – 2014 Coaching in Germany (German Champion 2012, 2015), 2016 – 2019 Bellmont Abbey (D2, Conference Champion, NCAA Tournament Appearance), 2019 – 2020 Lander University
Status: German National Coach (field men) and Interim Coach BHC and Spreewölfe (Box Program)
LAS: Coaching in Germany – how did it come about?
Pete de Santis (HTHC Hamburg): I remember sitting in my lacrosse office at SHU just coming to the end of my graduate program. I had been scrolling through the job posting on LaxPower. For younger people: LaxPower used to be a website. I saw the HTHC job offer and thought, what the hell is that? Lacrosse in Germany? This is kind of cool. When I got in my plane to come over, I didn’t know that I would be here for 10 years.
Adam Marshall (BHC Berlin): I also saw a job posting for Munich Lacrosse on LaxPower, and I think I even saw a German lacrosse player on E-Lacrosse, which is a website that a lot of people did not know existed. But that’s how we learned to be better players in the nineties.
Pete de Santis: E-Lacrosse was the weirdest Lacrosse website…
Adam Marshall: … and so much value.
LAS: How was it for you to start as a coach at a German club?
Pete de Santis: It was wild. At first, I was shocked about the skill level here. There were some guys who blew me away. They were strictly homegrown talents. But then there is going down to second league teams like Göttingen, Bremen, and other towns and seeing like guys who were really passionate about lacrosse but really didn’t have any idea what lacrosse is about.
Adam Marshall: Coming from a college environment, it was really interesting. It was my first time ever to coach grown men. I have to echo what Pete said. When you first come over, you are kind of surprised. These people definitely do know how to play. Some just don’t know and you do have to bridge that gap to them. But it was a lot of fun to coach someone who you have a real conversation with, you don’t have to dictate to.
LAS: Adam, you were already German champion with HLC Munich as a coach, and then went back to the States to coach a DII college. Now you’re back in Germany. How is your new start as a coach?
Adam Marshall: I think it’s great. It’s awesome to see how much is built. The dedication of the players, especially on the higher level and on the national team level. Simply how much better this country is at lacrosse. You still love to see more teams, you still love to see more players, but compared to where it is now to where it was in 2012 is kind of a different world. And that really makes me happy as a coach. To see that work that was put in come to fruition for a lot of players, especially the growth of box lacrosse is great to be part of.
LAS: Pete, you have been in Germany for a long time and have been with the HTHC from the beginning. What do you say about the development of the German lacrosse scene?
Pete de Santis: Across the board at all club levels, from the university town club to the small city to the big city clubs like Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and Berlin, the quality of play in lacrosse has exploded. I have spent time coaching second league clubs and these teams doing stuff that I would not imagine eight years ago. And then in the major teams clubs, we see players going over to North America and playing box lacrosse in Canada or university lacrosse in the U.S. The top band of German talent exploded, and the average band of players has gotten unbelievably better. It is mostly driven by young men who just fell in love with this sport.
LAS: If you want to rank lacrosse for American readers, where do we stand in comparison here.
Adam Marshall: Some of the best players could definitely compete with high-class DII teams. There is talent that is even good enough for a DI roster. The biggest thing that is lacking here is experience. The only thing that is different is some of the decision making and some of the ideas of the game, because our guys here don’t necessarily play against tough competition every single time they step on the field. And this is the only thing that is kind of a gap to me. But they can be pretty smart, so they can learn what to do.
LAS: Adam, how would you describe the Berlin team?
Adam Marshall: This team is defensive first. Definitely heavy and thick as a rule. And a team that can have a lot of success down the stretch.
LAS: Pete, how would you characterize the Hamburg team?
Pete de Santis: Experienced! We have a core group of players who have been playing together for six, seven years. I have been coaching them for that whole time. Our guys know what they do on the field together. The strength of the team lies in the offense at the end of the field.
LAS: What do you expect from the game?
Pete de Santis: I am super excited. I have been looking forward to it since I saw who ended up playing for BHC. This team is littered with national team-quality players. It’s gonna be good. I cant wait for this. This game is like two trains on one track – coming at each other.
Adam Marshall: It is a rivalry game.
LAS: What is your tip for the final score?
Adam Marshall: How much do we bet on this?
Pete de Santis: Nope!
Adam Marshall: Nope?
Pete de Santis: I am not a betting man, and also I am a big believer in karma, Voodoo, and black magic, so I stay away from this.
Adam Marshall: I believe both teams score more than 10 goals.
The Big Game, Through Photos
All photos credited to Manju Sawhney.