Men’s lacrosse fall to a much-improved Lancaster

LANCASTER 6-5 YORK

Images: Petroc Taylor

The men’s lacrosse team suffered an agonisingly close defeat in what was certainly one of the most shocking results of the Roses weekend.

Having been undefeated all season, storming to promotion into the Northern 1st Division, and winning their Cup in a phenomenal final with Durham 2s – it was always going to take something special to topple Greg Markes’ squad. Unfortunately, that is what Lancaster delivered, in a 6-5 nail-biter that denied the White Rose side the four points they have come to expect from the fixture.

Lancaster had trained hard for the match, and this year have been stronger than ever – their performances lifted by an England defender joining their ranks, who was a constant threat in transition. With this boost Lancaster managed to clamped down on York’s characteristically flowing attacking style.

The work that has gone into their game play this year was evident, and clearly shocked York, who were 2-0 down within 10 minutes. Markes called a much-needed time out, which gave his squad time to gather themselves for a comeback, although Lancaster also came back refreshed from the short break, and were quick to reassert their dominance, taking the score to 3-0 at quarter time.

In hot and clammy conditions, the players’ heavy protective equipment looked even more cumbersome than usual, and both sides seemed slightly flat after an intense first quarter. However, it was York who came out fighting, determined to win back the match, and the second passage of play was much more evenly-matched.

York, missing the fantastic attacking duo of Andy Thomas and Joe Tebbutt – playing at nationals that morning – were not quite able to convert any of their chances, although their defensive play begun to tighten up, and Lancaster were only able to add one more point to their tally.

And then, suddenly, the momentum shifted. Tom Beetham pounced upon a loopy pass from Lancaster’s number 12, who had been a threat all game, and flew down the wing of the pitch in a trademark solo effort. A perfectly-placed pass to Andy Chalmers, who with a strong finish, saw York finally get on the scorecard.

Lancaster were quick to respond, coming up in possession after some scrappy ground ball play, and quickly converting this, but York were certainly in ascension, with a goal from Theo Paquet swiftly negating this. Chalmers completed a mazy run that left Lancaster’s defenders standing, before another fantastic shot, and a superb solo effort from Dan Ball brought the score to 5-4, with York within touching distance of equalising.

Defensively, the team were also raising their game – most notably in the brilliant link ups between Steele-Moore, Markes and Kosek, and the strength of York’s comeback was epitomised in another goal from Ball, who cooly slotted in his second.

The scores now equal, it was anyone’s game. Both sides’ supporters were growing ever-more vocal, and the tension was palpable. With just eight minutes to play, Lancaster managed a goal out of nowhere, and regained their lead, cranking the drama up another notch. Over the hill of the pitches, strongly reminiscent of Gandalf’s arrival at Helm’s Deep, jogged Thomas and Tebbutt, who kitted up swiftly and were ready to join their team mates on the pitch, but – in a hugely frustrating decision – the umpires refused to let them play.

However, York refused to let this affect them, and played fantastically in the final few minutes. Three powerful shots from Josh Illsley were unlucky to go wide, and the White Rose worked incredibly hard to keep Lancaster from merely holding the ball as time ran out: but it was not to be.

The final whistle went with Lancaster just one goal ahead, and jubilant celebrations broke out on the pitch as their entire Lacrosse Club enjoyed their surprise victory. The resilience shown by York to come back from 4-0 was astounding, and they provided the most gripping fixture of the day, but their phenomenal season was not to be reflected in their Roses performance, in which the ferocity with which Lancaster came out left them with simply too much to do.

The Sunday of Roses saw York playing a match of a very different kind to their usual high pressure BUCS fixtures. A more relaxed (and slightly hungover) atmosphere than the previous day’s fixtures by no means negated the intensity of competition. With a team cobbled together from the men’s and women’s teams, and captained by seasoned attacker Hattie Whillans, York managed to contribute four points to the White Rose’s campaign.

The first quarter saw an equal performance from the two sides, with Michael Steele-Moore eschewing his usual defensive role to slot in the first goal of the game. Shortly after, Lancaster replied with an equally quick goal in spite of a strong performance by goalie Lucina Rolewicz in her mixed debut. Goals from Whillans and next year’s women’s captain Chloe Searle saw the White Rose edge ahead, with the first quarter ending 5-2.

In the next quarter, goals from Lizzie Fox and Searle saw the score raised to 7-4- with Lancaster’s two reciprocal goals managing to sneak past a solid defence headed by Aine Moylett and Will Kosek.

York’s energy waned in the second half, resulting in a much more even performance between the two sides as the Lancastrians showed signs of a comeback. Lancaster managed to slot in five goals, exploiting York’s inexperienced defence through decisive crease rolls. A confusion over rules lead to second-half keeper Amy Blumsom mistakenly giving away a penalty, taking the final score to 11-9.

A victory on paper for the White Rose, but a hugely enjoyable match for all, with both teams playing hard, but interspersed with joking from umpires and players alike, and even glimpses of romance between a young York fresher and Lancaster’s new Lacrosse President. The fixture is always terrific fun, and this year proved no different, with the added bonus of 4 points gained for the black and gold Roses tally.

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