York’s lacrosse ladies secured a resounding 21-1 win on Wednesday, defeating Sheffield in their last game on home turf in Northern 1A this season. York blew their opponents away with the wind as it swirled around the green green artificial grass of the 3G- an outstanding effort inspired by an outstanding captain in Chloe Searle, who scored 10 of her team’s goals. An astonishing third quarter charge, which yielded 12 goals, drove the home side to victory over a timorous visiting team from Sheffield.
The ladies set the tone at the earliest stage, opening the floodgates within seconds of the draw. Fenella Houlton drew in two markers to feed Hattie Whillans, who converted from five yards. Both Houlton and Whillans have stepped into the Libby Storrick-shaped hole which emerged in York’s attack when the Emeritus student returned to America over Christmas. After Connie Shaw saw her wraparound effort saved, Searle shrugged off the attentions of an unfortunate Sheffield defender to double her side’s advantage from close range. Shaw got in on the act to make it 3-0, assisted well by Whillans.
At this stage, the corpse of Sheffield’s attack begun to twitch. Beth Reynolds needed to be proactive in gathering a ground ball in front of her goal, while the visitors almost found a path through as stolid yet animated defender Laura Carruthers was temporarily distracted by the ball-carrier’s options to pass, allowing her to register a shot on goal. Although Sheffield often managed to establish themselves in good offensive positions, their attempts to delve into the slot went awry time and time again. As the patter of rain begun, Claire Thomas set up Abbie Marcroft for 4-0.
At the beginning of the second quarter, Searle held her stick tantalisingly in the air in front of the impotent Sheffield goalkeeper before whipping the ball into the back of the net. The away team, rooted to the bottom of the league with -1 point (deducted after failing to register their officials before the deadline) got their lone goal at this stage through a long-range effort which trickled through the legs of Reynolds. As if offended by the sheer audacity of it, York added three more to their tally through Searle, Marcroft and Kitty Leech, whose ambitious overlapping run was rewarded as she completed a flowing move involving three or four clean passes forwards. It was 8-1 at half-time.
The ninth, tenth and eleventh goals came within the space of what felt like one minute, such was the speed and intent with which York played offense. The thirteenth was a magisterial goal, a delightful effort, which underlined the White Rose’s unabated superiority and undisputed class. Connie Shaw, of this parish, brandished possession after a ground ball melee on the near touchline. Her pass to Searle, however, was a fair distance behind her captain, who stretched gracefully backwards, extending her stick behind her to improbably grasp hold of the ball. Searle then proceeded to feign left and plant the ball in the roof of the net. It was one of those pieces of athletic brilliance, which one occasionally sees when reporting on university sport, which imparts itself indelibly on the memory of those present.
Going into the final quarter at 17-1, both sets of players relaxed in the knowledge that the result was beyond all reasonable doubt. A further five goals came in the fourth quarter to sound a further, resounding note of York’s victory. The Black and Gold look set for a third-place finish, which as a newly promoted side in the same league as Durham Seconds- a Rolls-Royce of a lacrosse team- is a most promising return.
Chloe Searle reflected: “I’m very happy with our performance today. The whole midfield, and Fenella (Houlton) up front have really stepped up after we lost our American player, Libby Storrick.
“Its been a fantastic season apart from the two losses to Newcastle, which were due to a bit of refereeing.”
It says a lot about the high standards that Searle, and the team as a whole, set that the tough losses to Newcastle are still rued and regretted. Attention now turns to cup competition, as the girls traverse down to Oxford next Wednesday. All being well, success in the cup will mean that today’s win was not the last York Sport Village will see of this exceptional team. It has been a pleasure to watch their progress this season.
York: Reynolds, Leech, Carruthers, Marcroft, Pay-Savage, Bell, Thomas, Searle, Shaw, Marcroft, Whillans, Moylett, Gordon, Thompson, Nicholson, Mendes da Costa
Player of the Match: Chloe Searle