Men’s lacrosse defeat Durham in close encounter

BUCS Cup Quarter Final

Images: Lily Grant

Revenge was sweet for the White Rose’s men’s lacrosse team as they narrowly defeated Durham to advance to the semi finals of the BUCS Cup – beating the side that knocked York out of the final last year.

Each quarter of the game faced a different season of the year as both sides played through rain, wind, snow and sun on the weatherproof and ever-reliable 3G pitch.

Unlike the weather, the match started with very little going on. Both teams found it very hard to break each other down and the score remained goal-less throughout the majority of the first quarter, mainly due to a string of good saves from the Durham ‘keeper.

York built up their dominance as the quarter went on, even in the face of a fierce blizzard. After ten minutes, the Durham defence finally cracked when York’s towering attacker Dan Ball made a move down the right and was given room to move to his left to bounce the ball past the goalkeeper.

The blizzard in the sky was then replaced with a blizzard of goals on the pitch. Ball’s opener spurred York to score two more goals before the end of the first quarter, both scored by the prolific Andy Thomas from close range.

Chris Menon had clearly decided in the break that the first thing he should do in the second quarter was score – and what cracking goal it was as he fired a lightning-strike of a shot low into the bottom corner from range.

The game then came alive as six goals were scored in the following five minutes. Durham found three goals in quick succession to make the score 4-3, and suddenly York were looking tense.

But they immediately bounced back when Andy Thomas completed his hat trick as York won the ball from a face-off and worked the ball to Durham, creating space for Thomas to pull away his shot.

Celebrations, however, were short lived when Durham mirrored York’s play by winning the face-off and going on to score themselves, making it 5-4. So York responded by doing the exactly the same thing again.

From the face-off, Michael Steele-Moore made a run from the halfway line to the Durham goal before slotting the ball home with ease.

Thankfully for the bewildered reporters, the flurry of goals came to an end just as another flurry of snow began to fall on the 3G, despite a break in play when the goals started to blow away.

Thomas made it 7-4 before half-time; after receiving the ball off a Durham foul, he dummied a pass to defeat the defender before powerfully slotting the ball into the net.

York’s half-time diet of jelly cubes clearly failed to have much of a positive effect; straight from the face-off for the third quarter, Durham broke through the middle before their midfielder dragged a shot along the floor and into the net.

Menon restored York’s three-goal cushion shortly after, but Durham continued to show their resilience when they cheaply won possession after some sloppy York passing and they were able to bring the score to 8-6.

However, York responded well and they saw out the rest of the quarter by adding two more goals, courtesy of Menon and Ball. Menon fired his shot low into the bottom left after a lengthy spell of York possession, whilst Ball got on the end of Scott Nuckey’s pass across the goal before the goalkeeper could intercept.

The Black and Gold looked to have the game under wraps as they started the fourth quarter with a 10-6 lead, but perhaps complacency got the better of them. When Durham finally got the ball rolling with a goal halfway through the quarter, they looked unstoppable.

Shortly after, they lowered the deficit to 10-8. With Dan Ball sanctioned to the penalty area for a slash, York were now a man down in their own half and Durham made this show when a patient build-up resulted in a well worked goal.

Another patient Durham build-up led to their attacker releasing a long, high shot to ripple into the back of the net. Out of nowhere, Durham were clawing this game back.

A few minutes later, agonizingly for York, they found their equaliser with a swift attack on the break. Knowing it was everything or nothing, team captain William Chun came off the bench to try and force a win – and that’s exactly what he did.

With barely a minute left on the clock, Menon won the ball off Durham and broke down the right-hand side. He held up possession long enough for Chun to dart into the centre of the Durham defence, allow Menon to throw in a high ball for Chun to pounce on and power into the back of the net.

York had won it by a whisper to reach the semi finals, but it was made all the better by knocking out the team that ruined their cup dream the year before.

An exuberant team captain William Chun told Nouse: “I’m so happy. It was a game we’d been looking forward to all season. We lost to these guys in the final last year, they thrashed us, but to beat them in the quarter final is just great.”