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SEMLA Premiership Photo credit- Antony Thorton

South England Lacrosse: SEMLA Coming to a Close, Women’s Lax & Summer League News

This time, we will look at some recent results across the SEMLA Premiership, the details of the summer league and our women’s team making steps as well.

This time, we will look at some recent results across the SEMLA Premiership, the details of the summer league and our women’s team making steps as well.

We also take a view at the regional tournament in York where four English select teams competed over two days. As the weather becomes nicer we are sure to know the season draws to a close.


SEMLA Premiership

First up, premiership flags ball. Two big games this weekend for the ticket to the finals at Reading – local rivals Spencer (again…) meet Hampstead LC and Blues competed against the Reading Wildcats. The Blues beat Reading by a single goal 7-6. Blues remain on course for a title this year and are no strangers to the cup final and won the flags in 2010 and 2011.

Hampstead and Spencer played an intense game – after some struggles with fielding a squad, Hampstead fielded their entire team. Spencer won the flags three years running but came up two goals short in this game against Hampstead, losing 6-8. That sets the scene for a very interesting final in Reading on April 11 for the flags trophy. See the detailed reports and commentary in some detailed words by local reporter D. Buckland.

A big thing about these very close games is the confirmation that there is not much between the top five or even six teams on any given day. For us as a club, this does mean that looking to win something does mean delivering 100% in any game – next year we hope to progress beyond the semi final.

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Now, for the home game on 28 February. Hillcroft A, aka Chillcroft, played against, you guessed it, Spencer 2s in the final for the Eastern Bracket of the Intermediate Plate. The winner of the game gets to play for the trophy against the winner of the Western final where Bath and Cardiff met. Spencer are a very strong club and we were keen to get a win over a well organized and effective team.

Despite a very focused warm-up and some noisy support from the side lines, Chillcroft started slow and Spencer won the first quarter 3-1. Most of our goals conceded included sub optimal decisions – acknowledging that was the first step to get back in the game. The second quarter saw some extensive possession and through some better decision making and plenty of patience on offense, Chillcroft lead by one at half time, 6-5. Spencer gets some late reinforcements, and continues to push for the ball.

After some extensive penalties, Chillcroft dig deep in the third quarter and amend their riding scheme, making transition for Spencer 2s much harder and removing fast break goals from the menu. Add some good shooting to that and you win the quarter by one, extending the lead to 8-6. With the fourth quarter scoreless, Chillcroft enters the last few minutes of the game with the ball, never to look back and winning 8-6 and punching the ticket to Reading. This is a big step for our club towards winning some silverware and after two losses to Spencer 2s, Chillcroft now showed that they can deliver.

Also on 28 Feb, our third side traveled away to Oxford, a competitive university program. University sides bring a mix of youth and determination and Thrillcroft had a rough day in the office, losing 15-0 to a much better side.

Thrillcroft have achieved this season’s objective, but we’re very aware that this sort of loss highlights need for improvement. A loss, no matter how high, is always a chance to take stock and find out what does and does not work. We will be back for more and look to get into a better position against Brighton. And after Brighton, Oxford is on the schedule again. So no rest for the wicked, we look to give Oxford a tough game. There is one good thing about how well Oxford are doing – they had numerous players at our clinics on shooting and 2v2 play.

More recently, on Saturday 7 March, Thrillcroft battled for a draw against Brighton LC. Eight all after four quarters, having lead all game by two but ultimately yielding two crucial goals too many to take the win. This leaves Thrillcroft with some chance to get promoted – quite the result for a recently promoted team that was largely tasked to avoid relegation back down to East 3. On 14 March, a depleted squad traveled to Oxford to regain some of the lost momentum, delivering a much improved performance, if still losing 7-17.

Thrillcroft lacrosse England
A few laxers from London, one of them sporting a DangerZone lacrosse T-shirts

Big thanks for the game on 14 March to Spencer LC and Oxford – the former loaned us a few players that would otherwise not have seen a field (their game got cancelled) and Oxford agreed to play the game with those guys on our side.

It is great to see that sportsmanship and the desire to play a game overcome the more selfish opportunity for a simple walk over.

Women’s Lacrosse

The women’s side is progressing as well. After a few months’ worth of learning fundamentals, we’re bringing in extra coaching to implement more game related practices. We’re very fortunate in having Kaitlan Biondi as a volunteer coach.

After about 90 minutes of extensive 3v3 work, Captains Mara Milanesi and Freya Keane and their players were very happy and sent three of their players to get some game time with Blues LC’s 2nd side. Blues have been very helpful in letting our girls compete with their 2nd side – practicing is nice, but nothing replaces game time.

There is a big regional tournament in York (North England) on 14 and 15 March. Four regions compete: South West, South East, North and U 19. Each side fields two teams ‘A’ and ‘B’.

South England lacrosse team picture

The South East teams managed wins in all but one games and won both categories. The competition from all other teams was very good, indicated by a competitive North A team drawing against a very England senior squad heavy South East A team in the final game. The B team had its best game against a very promising England U19 B side, winning by one after recovering from two three goal deficits. After the A team keeper was unavailable, B Team keeper Emily Coales (Cambridge University) got called up and South East B secured its third win with an exceptionally strong keeper loaned from England U19 B.

It is encouraging to see the incredibly high level of play across all teams, in particular of the U19 sides. The U19 players are the likely next generation to compete at big gig like the senior women’s Home Internationals. Here England will compete against the teams of Wales and Scotland on 27 – 29 March!

Summer League

And now, the summer league has published some important dates. On May 30, June 20, July 4 & 25, August 1 and 15 is when London will see summer Lax at Hillcroft’s ground.

Players can now register, see our Facebook page for details. Each of the four teams can nominate up to five players from last year to retain.

Summer league is ultimately all about fun, but it appears the captains of Nomads, MerryMen, Dangerzone and the newly named ‘The Tropics’ (last season under ‘Foreigners’) make clear that winning the league is the priority. We already had the first trade of a players, an attacker for a middie and now have every team’s five players.

Protecting five players is hardly enough to make for a complete side, but it is plenty to create the team’s backbone. We can see this pattern in every team’s choices. Defending champions MerryMen stick with their remaining keeper as Matt O’Leary now runs direct competitors ‘The Tropics’. Lewis Arnold’s well known for effectiveness on defense and transition. The three remaining MerryMen picks put three midfielders in their ranks – together with their captain’s offensive firepower this confirms last year’s MerryMen approach to the game: summer means ‘run and gun’.

Nomads make a potentially very effective choice: have a great FOGO and keeper and life can be much easier. Rick Bone is last year’s summer league MVP and also holds the title for best goalie. He competes for the Nomads with two strong long poles, one of which is also a very helpful player at the x (T. Roche). Combining this with Joe Nicoll and Blues/England Box player Dave Cluney and you got a decent set up.

Dangerzone followed a comparable logic, picking a spine of players from one club, Hillcroft LC, with a player on defense, midfield and attack, complemented by a very physical defender (T. Martlew/Blues LC) and Wales/Hitchin midfielder R. Stanford. Rhodri was voted best midfielder 2014 and can deliver strong performances at Face/Off as well as in offense. The Nomads have a thing or two to say about that – R. Stanford lead the attack against Nomads in an upset draw against Nomads early in the 2014 season.

Last, but not least, The Tropics. Succeeding the struggling Foreigners, Captain Matt ‘Fingers’ O’Leary has a chance to make a talented roster work out better. Key component in this will be Dave Groves – currently competing for D3 school Medaille.

Seeing Dave compete in the NCAA is a huge – he learned his Lacrosse at my old club Welwyn Warriors and a small part of me would like to believe that he applies a thing or two learned in those days when scoring a hattrick. Seeing him compete with Canadian lefty wing attacker Kyle Zahrybelny and SEMLA’s high scoring sharp shooter Rob Holmes should make every defense wonder exactly how to create the right match-ups. On the other end, Hillcroft’s own Tom Loake will be well placed to marshal the defense. Matt is likely captain and starting goal keeper and transition is one of the things E. Willsmer from Blues LC does well.

Merrymen

  • Ben Stowe, G, Buckhurst Hill
  • Lewis ‘Turfmonster’ Arnold, D, Blues
  • James Kidd, M, Blues
  • Dave Baldwin, M, Epsom
  • Harrison Parr, M, Purley LC

Nomads

  • Rick Bone, G, Spencer LC
  • Tom Bailey, D, Spencer LC
  • Tom Roche. LSM/FO, Spencer LC
  • Joe Nicoll, M/FO, Croydon LC
  • Dave Cluney. M, Blues LC

DangerZone

  • Rhodri Stanford, M, Hitchin LC
  • Ben Stothard, D/SSDM, Hillcroft LC
  • Toby Martlew, D, Blues LC
  • Duncan Trenholme, A/M, Hillcroft LC
  • 
Harry Collins, M, Hillcroft LC

The Tropics

  • Dave Groves, A/M, Medaille College
  • Ewan Willmser, M, Blues LC
  • Tom Loake, D, Hillcroft LC
  • Rob Holmes, A, Spencer LC
  • Kyle Zahrybelny, A, Hillcroft LC

All of these teams will have a big range of decisions to make – The Tropics have first pick and might look for a FOGO beyond everything else to supplement E. Willsmer. Dangerzone will look for a goal tender unless S. McGregor-Dallas plays through the summer. Nomads might look for some extra firepower in attack. MerryMen likely continue to focus on youthful picks.

There will be more detail on the draft once we close the registration. That’s not anytime soon but for more news on the summer league, check our Facebook page.

Women’s Summer League

The other big change is that we’re offering women’s Lacrosse as well. Positioned for players of all levels, summer ball for women’s Lacrosse should make for a number of good games and hopefully helps put women’s lax at Hillcroft on the map.

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That’s all for now, but in the next edition, more details on European ball including an interview with Lucy Fowler (South East and Wales), a recap of our club’s seasons and more information on the summer league.

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