While everyone is getting all excited for lacrosse in the States, it’s time to go back to London. The NCAA season kicked off and ours is winding down (well kind off).
Today we are going to cover some news from our three teams in South England and their games in early 2015, a report from the women’s lacrosse match between University College London and Imperial College London, some details on our upcoming summer league and then we wrap up with an interview with Colin Shaw, former player at D1 school Wagner and previously a coach for the Reading Wildcats, a current student athlete at Durham University in northeast England.
South England Lacrosse Update
Our first side started into 2015 with a resounding victory over Purley LC – new offense schemes clicked and offensive production was high. The following week, Welwyn Warriors could not host a game after a bunch of badgers decided to check for new housing on and under the field. We will see Welwyn in a few weeks, by which time the Warriors hopefully have found their form and made a successful bid to fight off relegation.
The last game in January saw Hertfordshire based Hitchin LC visit our first side for a game we don’t see too often. We ultimately lost by one (3-4) and it was the kind of game where everyone takes something home from how things could have, but didn’t, go.
Then, the big game last Saturday. Spencer are well ahead in the league and favourites to win the title. Their defense conceded fewest goals and scored the most goals, including more than a dozen at our most recent trip to the Earlsfield side. We had something to prove and started well, with a 5-3 score for us at the quarter promising better things. Then, the second quarter happened. A game has 80 minutes and if you want the W, then you need to have one more goal. Conceding seven of those in quarter while not hitting the net makes for hard work in the next half. The team did adjust, winning or drawing the next quarters but the gap from the second quarter was too much – Spencer took a well deserved win and stay en route to a likely championship and possible double. The schedule could let #2 ranked Walcountian Blues and Spencer LC meet on the last game day of the league and in the final of the Flags cup. All of the top four or five teams can compete with each other but this year these two teams did very well.
For our first team, the remaining schedule offers a few more opportunities to solidify table ranking and understand who can play where in which role against what opponent. The last game day is away at Hitchin, no question that we are going to want that away win.
The seconds began the year on form. Two wins over London Universities (one in early January in the League and one in late January in the Cup) and one at Croydon indicates that things moved in the right direction. Quick ball movement, a competitive defense and generally effective play set us up for the match against league rival Spencer 2s, just before the second match against London Universities.
In East Division 1, Spencer 2s and our boys compete directly in league and flags for the top spot, so the game away at Spencer was very important. The last game saw a loss (4-8), a game we would play differently, if we could. This time, the team turned up in form, well prepared and lost. We cut the deficit in half to 6-8, but a loss is a loss. Encouragingly, there is one more game against Spencer, Flags match in late February. This time, we just might get the edge. Until then, the captains have dedicated the remaining games to finding the best possible team to compete with Spencer. Several returning players and some new recruits make for some changes, we shall see if `third time lucky` holds true.
Last but not least, Thrillcroft, our third side. Promoted into East 2, and initially tasked to avoid relegation found itself in a good table position and on a run – four wins in a row since December without as much as a single pass. For all games, the opposition could not field a side and we `won`. We learned fast, that nothing replaces game time, not even a month worth of training. Thrillcroft met Cambridge at home and got a 3-15 loss. Arguably the hardest thing about this was that, after a tight loss to Oxford in November where we had done very well, that we plain and simple lost to the better side. No qualms, no excuses, they were better, we were not good enough.
But, onwards and upwards – some of the best lessons come from losses and the next two games against Reading 3s and Spencer 3s would be important. Reading 3s remain the team with the highest win on record against Thrillcroft (our first ever game), but a 11-5 victory away implied a bounce back. Next up, Spencer (again…). Where we go, we face them and this time, we beat them. A mix of disciplined efforts and effective offense gave Thrillcroft a 9-3 win in the cup semi final, leading us back to Oxford. Two games at Oxford, regional cup final on 28 February and then again a league game on 14 March. Safe to say, we want that cup and just as safe to say – Oxford might have a thing or two to say about that.
Overall, we have under two months‘ worth of games ahead. And in some ways, we got where we wanted to be. The third side is well placed to avoid relegation, might even take a trophy. The same applies to the second team and our first side may not always show the results but certainly shows extensive promise.
In SEMLA, we see a range of changes, not all of them welcome. Several teams have struggled to secure enough players for games and some even folded. That causes worries, as to how teams with high levels of competitiveness folded and what that might mean for our club. So far, everything looks good – but we appreciate that things may change. We’ll keep you posted, but if you know of someone travelling or moving to London – send them our way? Please?
Another important game was played at University level. In BUCS, University College London (UCL) faced local rival Imperial College. Having coached UCL for a about two months by now, I was lucky enough to be able to accompany my team to their game on a Wednesday afternoon, English universities have “Sports Wednesday”, most games are held on that afternoon.
We had prepared for Imperial and planned for a mix of effective transition attack, control at the draw and athletic defense. Going up by three early in the game, UCL never looked back and took the win, winning each of the quarters with a final score 13-9.
In particular a combination of pass & move offense mixed with spells of slow pace/stalling offense worked very effectively. Imperial were very good and with fewer break downs in play, can easily compete for a win as they showed us in the second half of the game.
UCL will meet local rival King’s College in the London varsity match and frankly, that game does matter an awful lot. On 8 March, our team looks to take another win home.
See all details here!
And now, onto the important things for the summer: Summer League Lacrosse.
It’s kicking off soon, but here some details that make the British “summer” look more appealing.
- The four teams retain five of the players from last season: The identity remains but it’s rebuilding year for everyone (and that’s entirely intentional)!
- The season begins in late May and runs until mid July
- The London Nomads, our tour team, looks to compete at the Berlin Open
- We’re working with the Tasko Cup
- You can join up for one game or up to six
- All levels welcome
We’ll also have a dedicated referee training arrangement in place. Officials can be assessed and pass exams as part of formal qualifications, preparing them for the next season and hopefully also high level officiating at international tournaments. Big thanks go to Simon Peach, who has several World Games and European Championships‘ experiences, who will be our Referee in Chief.
There will be more details on the league available in the next edition, including some detail on draft and the party we will host on 4 July (and yes, that’s entirely intentional as well). We’ll offer women’s lacrosse games as well, which will complement well with the high level summer league games offered by the Super League.
Have a look here for more details on the English Lacrosse Association website.
That’s all the news from England for now. One last thing, the interview with Colin. He‘ s a passionate Lax player and knows both US and European Lax very well. Have a read of his take on things, don’t just take a German’s word for it.
Interview with Colin Shaw
HS: You are currently playing for Durham University in the UK. Before we go into some details around European Lacrosse and its differences compared to the US, maybe a short summary of your lacrosse background before you came to Europe?
CS: Before I came to the UK I was at Wagner College in Staten Island, NY. I played 4 years of NCAA Division 1 lacrosse, and my senior year was named as a first team all-conference defenseman in the Northeast conference.
The Northeast Conference is Bryant, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, St. Joseph’s, Hobart, Sacred Heart, and Wagner.
HS: How come you got into European Lacrosse? And how did Durham become an option for you?
I have been in the UK playing and coaching for the last 2 years, as the LDO (local development officer) for the Reading Wildcats.
After I finished coaching the Braunschweig Guardians in June as I was looking for work I realized that if I wanted to move forward in a career a post graduate degree would be necessary. Initially, I tried to stay in the U.S and become a graduate assistant at a school through the NCAA, but it fell through. I contacted Quentin Sloper at Durham and the rest is history.
HS: What’s your current season looking like and how does playing at Durham differ from playing NCAA ball?
We are very strong defensively this year at Durham, I believe that we will be successful through out the rest of the season. Playing ball in the NCAA, especially in D1, is a full time job, during the season with up to 20 hours a week of training and going to school full time. [Durham] is not as demanding as it was in the NCAA. It is enjoyable, having much more free time.
HS: European Lacrosse has some nice tournaments. Can you share some of your experiences?
There are so many memorable moments from crushing bottles of wine at the AHM with the Turku Titans, making crazy German techno songs a la scooter with my friends Max Becker, Oke Schmidt and the rest of the BL OST all-stars at the Berlin Open and playing in the Lax in the Box tournament with a mixture of the Bratislava Bats and the fun teams called the BATCLOWNS.
The BATCLOWNS were a solid group of guys, that can play, and are tons of fun. That weekend I was told I was going to drink Slovakian alcohol, and sure enough I drank Slovakian alcohol. I can’t leave out the London Knights and the antics at the AHM.
I have to say I have played in so many lacrosse tournaments and that the AHM in the Czech Republic is the most fun tournament I have every played in. Big reason was the characters on the London Knights team, from the legend that is Rick Bone (goalie of Spencer LC in London), to Jamie Tasko, to the obsessively organized and unusually talented Joe Darkins. The bearded cop machine Jon Arthur (Hillcroft LC), and his blues partners Dave “I OBJECT” Cluney, and Matt Balwin. Last, but certainly not least the creatures from E.G Tony “The Backstreet Boy” Joseph, and “from parts unknown” Jack Foster. Those guys made one unbelievable week of partying and lax.
HS: What would be, in your opinion, a good option to get involved with European Lacrosse?
There are many clubs around Europe that are very keen to play, but don’t get proper coaching. If you are interested in coaching a European lacrosse team, they are probably interested in your expertise.
A great example is in Germany, where lacrosse has only been played for the last 20 or so years. There are guys in that country who have skills, but for lacrosse as a sport to move forward in development they need people to coach and introduce the game to a wider audience. The sport of lacrosse has grown rapidly, right now in Europe the rapid expansion needs more people with passion and motivation.
If you’re interested in getting involved feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!