The University of Durham Men’s 1s overturned a three-goal half-time deficit to defeat Nottingham Trent University 12-9 and claim an eighth consecutive BUCS Championship title.
Durham posted an 8-2 second-half as their 92-match consecutive unbeaten run came under threat, however their composure under pressure in the latter stages told as they surged back to take the win.
NTU raced in to a 7-4 lead and were ahead for much of the match before Durham began to turn the screw and edged in front in the 4th quarter after which point the defending champions never looked back.
The first quarter was, as expected, a cagy affair as NTU held much of the possession, opening the scoring through Jamie Powell before Vince Gravino and Matt Brigham goals put Durham 2-1 ahead at the ¼ time.
After a tight opening, the contest came alive in the 2nd quarter with NTU taking the initiative and making their possession count through two efforts from Patrick Greenwood and goals for Alex Huntley, Will Hardy and Jamie Powell.
Again, Vince Gravino and Matt Brigham scored for Durham, who finished with 4 and 3 goals respectively, to attempt to stem the pink tide before James Pomfret hit back for NTU winning the face-off and heading straight to the cage with a solo effort to go in at the half 4-7.
After the breakneck pace of 2nd quarter, the 3rd began in a more settled fashion with NTU’s defence producing a disciplined display to keep Durham at bay with NTU goalie and match MVP Stee Shaw coming up with several big saves.
However, the game seemed to turn on an injury to England International Will Hardy, who had to be withdrawn from the game, just as Durham captain Jack Bobzien pulled a goal back.
The withdrawal appeared to disrupt NTU’s previously composed defence as Grabino and Connor Enright bagged goals from man-up situations to draw Durham level for the first time since early in the 2nd at 7-7.
After the 3rd quarter shut out, NTU were the first to score in the 4th, Jamie Powell getting his third of the game to top-score for NTU and restore his side’s lead.
Durham had already beaten NTU twice this season in the BUCS Premier North Division by six and eight goals and the belief that the side would come through again was shown right until the end.
Eli Gobrecht levelled the game with a quick break off a turnover before Connor Rice finished from the crease to give Durham the lead for the first time since the 1st quarter.
Rice, who had drawn a blank up until the 4th, then rode several challenges to bag his second and open a two-goal lead for the first time at 10-8.
England midfielder Zac Guy managed to pull one back for NTU, however in their desperation to force an equaliser, the ball was lost in attack a couple of times and Durham made the turnovers count adding two more in the final minutes through Matt Brigham and Vince Gravino.
The North-East side then ran down the clock in the last stages to claim the victory 12-9 and win the 2017 BUCS Men’s Championship title.
MVP: Stee Shaw (NTU)
Durham – Vince Gravino 4, Matt Brigham 3, Connor Rice 2, Jack Bobzien 1, Connor Enright 1, Eli Gobrecht 1
Nottingham Trent – Jamie Powell 3, Patrick Greenwood 2, Alex Huntley 1, Will Hardy 1, James Pomfret 1, Zac Guy 1
In the Men’s Trophy Final, The University of Sheffield came from 7-5 down to score 5 goals without reply and beat The University of Cambridge 10-7 to win the crown.
Match MVP Cameron Parks scored 3 goals while England Under 19 international Ben Page-Laycock posted 4 to lead the Yorkshire side to victory.