A strong second-half comeback couldn’t prevent York from registering the first defeat of their North of England Men’s Lacrosse Association (NEMLA) campaign to Brooklands, a club from Manchester. However, Brooklands were forced to forfeit the contest for playing two underage players.
The NEMBLA league is played between any clubs, not just Universities, and the Brooklands team featured both young teenagers and veterans edging into their 50’s. However, any advantage might have gained from having a more physical team was nullified by the fact that take-outs were banned as being unfair on the youngsters.
Brooklands started the better of the teams, and were quickly ahead as York struggled to find their rhythm early on. However, a quick break by Chris Armstrong set up Philip Harrold for the equaliser, before Rich Ramsbottom put York briefly into the lead. Both side’s defences struggled in the first quarter, and a Harry Collins goal for York was quickly cancelled out by two for Brooklands.
The Manchester team’s young and naturally gifted players then began to run rings around York’s defence, and the first quarter ended with Brooklands 5-3 up and in the ascendancy.
Both defences began to assert themselves more in the second quarter, with Brooklands being limited to only 2 more goals in the second fifteen minutes. However, York’s finishing let them down, with several decent chances being squandered with shots either flying well over, or being tamely struck at the goalie. The whistle blew for half-time with Brooklands 7-3 up and looking ominously good.
Whatever was said during the break in the York huddle immediately began to pay off after the restart, with the whole team looking sharper all over the pitch. The revival was spear-headed by Armstrong, who came alive after a quiet first half, while the defence and goalie also upped their games.
Quick goals from Armstrong and Ramsbottom were split by a brilliant save by York goalie, Ben Robinson. However, the Brookland’s goalkeeper kept them on top, pulling off save after save, before Brooklands widened their lead to 8-5 against the run of play.
A top quality dodge and shot by Armstrong reduced the deficit, but Brooklands were quickly back on top, pulling out to a 10-6 lead.
York refused to let their heads go down, and Armstrong inspired them to three quick goals in succession, including one where he took the ball from the restart and ran straight down the pitch to score.
A stunned Brooklands side were forced to use a time-out to recover their composure, and managed to halt York’s momentum, adding another goal themselves to win the game 11-9.
The game was lost for York in the first half. as their defense failed to cope with Brookland’s combination of wise old heads and the natural exuberance of youth. York’s shooting was also woefully under-par in the first-half, although Brookland’s 14-year-old had an exceptional game, winning the game for his team. He was so impressive that Robinson referred to him as “the best goalie I’ve ever seen”.
York regained their composure and attacking threat in the second half, but were again guilty of wasting chances through poor finishing or over-elaborating. York graduate Chris Armstrong was York’s best player, coming to life in the second-half to nearly inspire York to victory, but the team will need to improve their cutting-edge in front of goal to make strides in BUCS this season.
York’s captain, Harry Collins, attributed the defeat to a “sloppy 1st half”, but declared himself pleased with how they played against a team which, despite the young age of some, were much more experienced, while adding that the “preseason training really started paying off in the 2nd half”.
York kick off their BUCS campaign on 22nd October against Leeds Met Carnegie.
York 1sts: 9