Halfway through our 2014/15 season, we will look at the results for men’s and women’s across all divisions in South England. Another point we will consider is that of player availability – the main issue for most clubs in all leagues. Lastly, we will look at the next steps Hillcroft plans in growing the game.
We can all agree that more Lacrosse is better Lacrosse, right?
Let’s start with women’s Lacrosse in South England.
Premiership, the highest division, sees Putney Lacrosse Club at 48 points (six points clear of Blues and Centaurs).
Ranked 3rd, Centaurs have a healthy 18 points advantage on the 4th ranked team, Newbury Royals. Towards the back end of the table, Central London and Harpenden looks to close the gap to Clapham Lacrosse Club.
Personally, this is rewarding to see because last summer Clapham and Hillcroft LC cooperated on a set of off season stick and conditioning practices. Both clubs practiced together on Clapham Common from May through to early September, so where Clapham do well, Hillcroft LC are happier for it.
Women’s Division 1 North shows a more balanced table, with Hertfordshire based Hitchin LC ranked 1st. One loss short of the first place are the Reading Wildcats. This division is much more even than Premiership in its results: four of the six team have 17 points or more and within half a season any of these teams could go for promotion.
The south division has five teams, two of which are closely linked to Hillcroft LC. Currently ranked first with two wins is Blues 2s. This is is also home to our club’s women’s lax players. Hillcroft’s first ever women’s team will start competing next year and until then Blues 2s help our ladies out with some field time.
Now onto men’s Lacrosse. In men’s Lacrosse we field three teams: Premiership, East Division 1 and East Division 2.
We recently acquired the help of Brian Potter, a former NLL player and Head Coach of Cologne Indians (GER). Brian will give our team a different look, with some improvements already materialising. Our second and third sides compete for the highest spot in their leagues. Their goal is to develop players to a higher level so as to give us enough players to form a championship team.
In Premiership, the first team faces stiff competition from nine other sides.
Spencer LC field a very competitive and currently unbeaten team. Currently, the gentlemen from Earlsfield are in a class of their own with a score of 150 goals with a mere 22 goals against. Ranked 2nd are Blues, who also field two competitive women’s teams. They are followed by 3rd placed Reading LC. Then, in fourth place Hillcroft’s first team and Ranked 5th is Hitchin LC.
At the lower end of the table we have Bristol (the team with the furthest distance to travel) and Welwyn Warriors (the team with the largest losses in personnel) who both look to avoid relegation. They also want to overtake Purley LC and Hamstead who are ranked 7th and 8th respectively.
In East 1 division, Spencer’s second side has an unblemished record. Ranked 2nd is our second side who, after drawing against the 3rd ranked Maidstone and 4th ranked London University, would like the last few minutes of those games back for a do-over.
There are only four points between Hillcroft A (ranked 2nd) and 7th ranked Buckhurst Hill, so there a lot to play for in every game day; especially because the two bottom ranked teams will go down to East 2. The two teams in line for promotion to East 1 are the university sides of Oxford (unbeaten) and Cambridge (sole loss by three goals to Oxford). They are closely followed by Blues 2nds and our third side. They are closely followed by Blues 2nds and our third side, Hillcroft B (Insert picture of Thrillcroft Black top).
In addition to the East Divisons, there are two more divisions representing the west of England. West 1 sees Bath and Cardiff as likely picks for the promotion spot to premiership, a league both teams have some experience in. West 2, home to six teams, is in the lead with the undefeated Cheltenham Cougars. As with other leagues, only a few points separate Cheltenham (12 points) from third ranked Warwick University (10 points).
A lot of these results are driven by player availability.
For example, Hampstead fielded a very strong and successful team against us in the cup, taking away a well-deserved win, followed by conceding the next game against us, due to the unavailability of their players. This is not only an issue for game days, players can become unavailable for on short nice for long periods of time. Real life issues (work, family, etc.) can make that attack line from last year with 100+ points disappear over night.
Another factor is the impact of university. Some clubs lose players to university while some get players back from it. However, it’s not necessarily the same for every club as over half of university graduates playing Lacrosse move to London. Welwyn Warriors lost a wide range of competitive players over recent years to universities but then we have been fortunate in recruiting new players moving to London after graduation.
University teams from Bath or Warwick are frequently provide us with effective players. We also recruited some players from Denver, Scotland internationals J. Goodwin and T. Loake, Wales international A. Hopkins.
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Overall, Lacrosse in South England keeps growing. Competition over the nine leagues (as explained above) shows that there is plenty of opportunity to compete. This current season has already some interesting results, including some very strong and some very close results.
Some of the questions for next year are around: Spencer LC and who can beat them; if Putney can hold onto their lead; can Oxford beat Cambridge one more time or are Blues 2s and Hillcroft B strong enough to close the gap, and how the move up /down will affect team such as Bath, Cardiff, Welwyn, Bristol, Purley and Hampstead (to name just six teams affected)?
The answers to all these questions and some more information on beautiful game in the country of proper tea and real ale will be available soon. Catch detailed game reports on the ELA news ‘Lacrose talk’.
Keep up with the ELA men’s Lacrosse reports in a week by week break down, the Women’s Lacrosse League and view the Tables for the latest on South England lacrosse!