League victory for Men’s Lacrosse teamsets up top two clash against arch-rivals

The York Lacrosse team has had the most successful season of any of the clubs in the AU. This is a fact. In the League, they have carried all before them, notably destroying Lancaster and Newcastle.

Both these teams were completely outclassed throughout the season, with scores as high as 17-1 and 9-0 in York’s favour. Against Durham it has been much tougher. Every successful sports team needs a nemesis, an agreed rival who provides a real challenge, and in the case of the York Lacrosse team, this is Durham. They have a professional coach, imported American players, and they are captained by the identical twin of our England international defenseman, Chris Armstrong. In York’s first game of the season, on Durham’s Maiden Castle playing fields, they were narrowly beaten 4-6. This made the return match, on the 22 acres, an incredibly important one for York, and it was here that the tone was set for the rest of the season, with a fantastic game ending 6-3 in York’s favour. There was not to be a similarly challenging game for the rest of the season in fact, and York’s unbroken succession of victories and massively superior goal difference means the League has now been won, even though the last game, fittingly against Durham, is yet to be played. If anyone wants to witness one of the best Lacrosse matches you can see in England, then they should come down to the 22 acres early next term, and watch York’s yellow and blues take on the Durham purples.

In addition to the League is the Northern Universities Lacrosse Tournament, which was held on Sunday 19th of February in Newcastle. York, Durham, Newcastle, Lancaster, Leeds, Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh fought it out in shortened 15-minute matches on a rainy day, and on pitches that increasingly resembled a cowfield. Newcastle seemed to have placed themselves in an easier group, with Lancaster, Stirling and Glasgow, and as a result, two of the better teams of the tournament, Leeds and Edinburgh, went home early when they probably deserved to stay. Leeds managed to beat Durham 2-1 in the group stage, although they lost both other matches, and Edinburgh, a thoroughly decent team, were unlucky to lose all three of their games. In the short 15-minute matches, maintaining intensity for every second of the game was vital, and when Durham came out all guns blazing, scoring two goals in the first few minutes, York were able to post only one in reply, despite a strong fightback. Having beaten Leeds 4-1 (four goals being an impressive tally in 15 minutes), and Edinburgh 2-1, they went through as runner’s up, however, and put Newcastle in their place in the first elimination stage. Durham can only really have seen Glasgow as pre-match practice for the final that everyone had known was on the cards from the start of the tournament. The final, a longer 20-minute match, was as tense a game as this writer has ever played. With the ground a morass that made quick moves around the crease of the goal extremely difficult, defending was a grim business, and attacking turned into a gritty slogging match. Suddenly Twinny Armstrong’s familiar tongue-in-cheek exhortations of “play up, play up and play the game!” seemed to be taking on a distinctly Somme-like relevance. At one point, play was even stopped because the fist-sized rubber ball had been ‘mired’, that is pushed so far into the mud that the violent ground balls became a shovelling contest. In this environment, Bill Parker showed his outstanding class to score with a ripper of an underarm shot after five minutes, in virtually York’s only attacking play of the match. Durham had done a fantastic job of retaining possession and continued to do so, mounting a ceaseless assault on the York goal that lasted fully 15 minutes. York’s defence, based around Twinny, Joe Hedges, Neil Murray and Ben Mills, is widely acknowledged to be the among the best that a British University possesses, and they did themselves proud, staving off the Durham attack in the face of all adversity, and holding out for a 1-0 win.

In winning the highest available accolades in a physically tough and extremely skilful sport, the York Lacrosse team has proved itself to be among the best teams that the University possesses. I can only hope this results in a wider recognition from the AU and the general student population.

NULT Champions York
York vs. Durham

York vs. Newcastle Durham vs. Glasgow
A

Durham
York
Leeds
Edinbrugh

B
Newcastle
Glasgow
Stirling
Lancaster

Edward Cassels
SPORTS CORRESPONDANT

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