The most hotly anticipated group game for England Lacrosse by far, and certainly the one which the boys will have been building up in their mind.
The boys set out to play against Australia in their under 19 campaign in the early hours of Monday morning, UK time. Australia started the game with a face off win, and took advantage of a man up play early doors to go 1-0 up. From there things settled a little with both teams getting a chance to possess the ball. Alex Russell was demanding the ball in attach, pushing to the goal multiple times before drawing a flag for England after 9 minutes. The man up didn’t come to anything but moments later Russell attacked the goal in broken play and made the space for team mate Benjamin Page-Laycock to step in and equalise the game.
It was downhill from there for England as a soft English crease defence allowed Australia to run the score up to 4-1. The Aussies looked good at the face off ‘x’ and managed to control much of the ball. When England’s draw men did manage to create a 50/50 ball, it rarely came up red.
The second quarter looked rocky for England, as Australia ran up the score further and further, until with five minutes to go the Aussies had managed an 8-3 lead. It was at that point the English attack stepped up, proving they could score when it counted. In quick succession Russell, Hudson and Cara each grabbed a goal to bring us within two goals of the old enemy.
The second half started with another Australian goal, before Dwobeng came into his own in the English net, putting together four quality saves. However it wasn’t meant to be, despite an English goal to respond, Australia found the net again to extend their lead to 3.
In the final quarter England took three and a half minutes of penalties, making their fight back even more difficult. The quarter finished a draw and the England boys fell short by a margin of three. Undoubtedly it will be a result which the boys take hard, but the nature of these tournaments is that they’ll need to boot and rally before their next big game.
England managed to keep their penalties under a little more control, although still finished with 6 minutes in the game to the Aussie’s 7.5. The boys struggled to come up big at the moments that counted, the slow start meant that they never really had chance to recover and take the game back. The team still has sparks of quality, but they won’t get second chances as the tournament moves forwards, the time for do or die England lacrosse is now.
The attack looked capable of leading in this game, in particular Alex Russell who finished the match with three games and Joe Cara who found himself with six points (four goals, two assists).
The boys have a rest day next before they play their final group stage game against the USA team.
Article by Tom Roach