Hillcroft lacrosse lacrosse in South England
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South England Lacrosse: London Calling

London calling (back)

Some more news from London, this time surrounding our most recent fundraiser, a rundown of recent games and club developments, a report from the final trial of the South East women’s trials, and lastly, a bit of insight into the European Lax calendar. Plenty of news, so here we go.

A Fundraiser for Liza

Let’s start with the most important bit of news – Wyatt Heaton coached our goalies here at Hillcroft LC last fall. His knowledge of the game and his ability as a coach has helped our goalies improved tremendously. In October 2014, Wyatt said he had to go home because his internship in the City ended – we thought nothing of it other than that we would miss him at practice. By late December, we found out under which circumstances Wyatt and his now wife Liza married. It made a range of news in the US – we cannot explain what happened in detail but here is the video that tells the whole story.

So, in an effort to support Liza in her fight against cancer, we chose to host a fundraiser game. Tooting Mitcham United FC, from whom we rent our field waived the rental cost, all of our boys offered to make a donation, refs offered their time and there we were – fundraiser game on the first weekend in January with over 25 guys.

Team Liza trailed the first three quarters but came back fighting in the fourth quarter to win the game 12-9 against Team Wyatt. The total raised was around $700, but most importantly we got to stand by Wyatt and Liza even if a few thousand miles removed. Our wishes and thoughts remain with Wyatt and Liza in these trying times. We also recorded a quick shout out to Liza:

European Lacrosse did come together in this – Victoria Berlin where Wyatt had spent a weekend coaching also made a donation.

If you can, then please help Wyatt and Liza’s cause. It’s not the amount of money, it’s your gesture that makes the difference.

Hillcroft LC in crucial phase

More recently, the season for Hillcroft LC moves into the crucial phase. Late January to February is where league standings get cemented and so far, we are doing ok. Our third side, ‘Thrillcroft’, run in the top four of their division and well clear of the relegation spots which was our main concern after winning promotion into East 2 in September. The last game saw a hefty defeat against Cambridge University who took a well deserved win, beating us at every part of the game. Encouragingly, captains and coaches (including myself) already draw together the lessons learned and the most recent practices promised improvement.

The second team (‘Chillcroft’) certainly are heating up, currently at the top bracket of the table. A resounding win over local rival Croydon LC prepares a very tight knit team for the upcoming match against undefeated local rival Spencer 2s. Certainly one of the better games to watch this weekend, as these two teams look to secure the top spot in East 1. While neither team can get promoted, clubs are only allowed one team each into the top division, winning the league is crucial. Having the best second team typically means having at least a very good first team and better chances to win the big league or cup.

The most competitive team of Hillcroft LC is our first side. Several losses in December left us frustrated, knowing there was much more potential in the roster and lack of conversion cost us heavily. This year, the new offensive and defensive system implemented by Coach Brian Potter begins to settle in and the improvement is marked. We’re yet to prove how fundamental the change is against a top four team and this coming Saturday the boys in Orange from Hitchin, Hertfordshire visit our ground at Imperial Fields. We’ll report more details next time around, but do expect a great game.

Women’s Lacrosse Update

For women’s Lacrosse, our club’s brand new women’s team has been fortunate in working with the women’s team of University College London. One of the main universities in London, UCL has a thriving sports scene. This past Tuesday, a dozen players from UCL joined our club’s women’s team for practice. For our players with under a year of experience, working with some very competitive players was a very good opportunity.

It was certainly challenging, but our players did very well and, that was very rewarding for women’s coach Joe Broster. All Hillcroft players displayed sound fundamentals and advanced moves. Captain Mara Milanesi finished from a very tight angle in the closing game. The cooperation with UCL will be instrumental in progressing our team from grass roots to competitive side – expect more news to follow.

At the other end of the competitive spectrum, we saw the regional trials for the South East teams where we select the groups for competing against the other regional teams from around England. This year, the South East team has two sides, the A and the B team. The former competes at a very high level with a range of international players from the most recent England national side. The B team also competes at a very high level. The trials saw a number of drills using men’s field and box Lacrosse principles for women’s lacrosse and concluded with a very competitive match. Both teams have now been selected and we’re gearing up to compete in north west England in the middle of March.

Hillcroft women's lacrosse trials - England england2

The European Lacrosse Calendar

So much for the English side of things, let’s take a closer look at the European Lacrosse scene. European Lacrosse has over 20 active countries, but ‘active’ can mean different things. Some countries will only have some field Lacrosse, but will have very extensive high level Box Lax (Czech Republic) while some have their season in summer, others in winter and some have a winter/summer mixture. There is loads of box lax on, so we will cover that in more detail later – sorry this is field lax only.

Starting near home with the diary of Hillcroft LC, our season starts sometime around early September. While we train all year, September is where life gets a bit more serious. The summer league has its final game day and players leave their summer league team mates while apologising in advance for the bruising and embarrassment they due in the next months.

First league games are in October, preceded only by the famous Bath 8s and the Ken Galuccio Cup. It is one of Hillcroft LC’s objectives to earn a spot in the Ken Galuccio Cup.

The Bath 8s (men’s and women’s) is one of the oldest and biggest tournaments in England. Typically won by a northern English team, it is also the first showcase for the club’s new LDOs and SCOs. The Ken Galuccio Cup (also men’s and women’s) is the European Club Championship, hosted by the European Lacrosse Federation (2013 and 2014 version held in Ghent, Belgium) and sees national champions compete for the European title.

There will be more detail on coaching roles in England later, but a swift bit about LDOs (men’s)/SCOs (women’s). LDOs and SCOs are typically recently graduated NCAA players who are hired as full time (paid) coaches working with clubs in England. Their job is to teach the game in schools and in their clubs and they are often at the centre of growing the game in many regions. We will talk about these roles and other opportunities more in a short while. In the meantime, here is the link to the job advert.

The English season apparently needs miserable weather, so we play from October through to the last week before Christmas. All the while promising ourselves that this year wall ball and running will happen over the break. After the holidays (about 30 pounds heavier) we go back to playing in January – working off all that food and drink by picking up balls we would have caught six weeks ago. There are very few tournaments from October to March, but a few are out there – especially the New Year’s cup in Budapest, Hungary is worthwhile mentioning. In France, Lille run a nice Box Lacrosse gig.

In April, the English season draws to close. Promotion and relegation through the seven leagues are decided and the cup finals are played. The league does not have  play-offs, so in some years a champion with plenty points lead has a few weeks’ worth of casual run around games before formally claiming the title. Apart from the titles, there is no hard and fast rule how this year’s and next year’s league will compare. League structure changes can/will happen; for instance, where there is a sudden change in the number of teams. The cup finals are in mid to late April – they are a good watch and often draw a decent crowd (so about 100 people in a good year). You can look at historic league tables for quite a while (back until 1932) online at SouthLacrosse.org.uk.

For some teams, May is where the action starts – TOURNAMENT SEASON. A great example for this is DREADLAX, who believe in stylish gear, capable play and guaranteed great times for anyone (who likes Lax that is) traveling along (less fun for ‘lacrosse widows/widowers’). Tournaments represent the very essence of European Lacrosse. Teams from all areas and background meet to play and more than one player becomes the ‘laxtitute’ – carrying several tops of generic colour he/she will play for anyone in need of a spare player – frequently paid in hops based refreshment at the typically epic parties.

The BluesFest in London is an exceptional tournament with a party problem. With 400 players, of all different levelsand a eagerly adhered party motto (‘neon’ was a mistake though), mayhem ensues in the best possible way. Se official detail https://www.englishlacrosse.co.uk/events/bluesfest-2/) it can be pretty wild.. Another great summer tournament is the Berlin Open. It is likely to be the most competitive event outside of KGC and European Championships for international teams.

Our summer league starts in May as well. As with Box Lacrosse, we will give you more detail on it later. Essentially it is six games from May to August across four teams with a chance to play as walk-on or as fully committed player. It also has a damn good barbecue on offer (if I do say so myself) and a super competitive beer pong scene.

The summer league ends just before the Bath 8s and another year kicks off another season of lacrosse in all its glory. No serious stuff from May to September, titles and points to win from October through to April.

European Lacrosse Calendar

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!