England Lacrosse 9 – South Australia 9
Today saw England Lacrosse take on South Australia (SA), which would be the toughest team that they would face so far in the tournament. 11 of the SA squad are currently in the Australian National training squad and 3 have NCAA representational experience. England knew that they would be a gritty opponent and were prepared for a battle.
SA took England by surprise and opened the game with scrappy draw controls and 2 quick fire goals, one from Australian National team member Hannah Nielson, who would prove to be a player to watch throughout the game. SA gained yet another draw control but some solid 1v1 defence from Katie Lehovsky and Ashleigh Gloster put SA under pressure. Gloster even snapped her stick in her efforts to keep out the SA attackers!
SA were using quick ball movement to create opportunities from behind, something that England had come to expect from the Australian style of play. England conceded one more goal, which was followed by a call from coach Katelyn Hoffman to give England time out to regroup.
Despite some solid 1v1 defence from the likes of Laura Merrifield and Chloe Chan, Nielson managed to net one more goal, which kick-started what would be a huge change of momentum for the England team.
After some dominance from the Aussies on the draw which saw them score another goal, England veteran Ali Smith fought hard to take a ground ball to regain possession. After a foul, the ball was turned over and the ball taken down to the defensive end once more. England’s defence worked hard and a huge save for Lucy Grant saw the ball sent up to the England attacking end. After some up and down play, the ball was turned over quickly in defence by Laura Merrifield who then scored from a give-and-go assist from attacker Jenny Simpson.
The first of many important draw controls from Camilla Hayes followed, which saw the ball transition up to Megan Whittle, who drew the foul and fired her free position shot to the top corner taking the score to 5-2.
More up and down play followed, but the England defence held strong. Some excellent transitional work from Chloe Chan and Sophie Brett saw the ball given safely up to the attack for Camilla Hayes to convert a pinpoint assist from Jenny Simpson. SA had an answer, with a quick fast break goal to take the score to 6-3.
Despite a quick fast break goal from SA, England were making it difficult for SA in transition with some high pressure defence from Ashleigh Gloster. A crucial check on the catch from Annie Hillier meant that Hayes could storm down the pitch. Ruby Smith made a quick pass to Hayes who then scored her second of the game to take the score to 7-4.
Megan Whittle won the next draw control but was immediately fouled by SA, resulting in a yellow card putting SA a man down. England didn’t manage to convert and Hannah Nielson managed to find the back of then net once again for SA, taking the score to 8-4.
A good spell of defence saw a Sophie Whitehead interception which was followed by a post drive from Sophie Morrill, to wrap up the half at 8-5.
The second half opened with a positive turnover from Charl Lytollis followed by a crease drive and goal from Torz Anderson bringing the score to 8-6.
England were creating some excellent opportunities in attack but some fantastic play from the SA goal keeper meant that several shots were denied. SA were awarded a free position which Nielson scored, taking the score to 9-6.
However, Merrifield had an answer with a drive from the top to take the score to 9-7, which set the tone for the rest of the game. Some crucial saves from Izzy McNab kept SA to 9 and a quick clear found Torz Anderson to dish the ball up to Sophie Morrill who set Laura Merrifield up for a drive to take the score to 9-8. Annie Hillier made yet another game-changing check to seize the ball from Nielson driving to goal. Torz Anderson found Millz Hayes for a high rip shot, which had the England supporters in the stands on their feet.
It was a nail biting last few minutes of the game, which saw opportunities created for both teams but England’s defence held strong to the final whistle. Camilla Hayes earned the MVP for her clinical shooting and a spectacular performance in midfield. Tomorrow, England face New Zealand for the second time and for their final game in the tournament.
Team England squad: