Sheffield Lacrosse silenced by Manchester’s magic
By Ruth Dacey
Lacrosse is becoming increasingly popular in universities all across the country and Manchester is no exception with the university now fielding four teams.
The sport is certainly not a game for the faint-hearted with its fast-pace and full contact, perhaps it is these thrilling elements that keep drawing in freshers. This year has seen 200 new faces sign up for the men’s squad alone with a minimum of 50 turning up for the each of the four taster sessions that were held at the end of September.
Hopefully the influx of new talent will help improve the Men’s 1st team who performed fantastically last year finishing 3rd in the league behind Durham and Sheffield Hallam. They also reached the Semi-Finals of the BUCS Championship. Other highlights of the year included a successful tour of Dublin and victory over Liverpool and Leeds in the Christie Cup. This year the team is looking to improve on last year’s achievements with the help of coaches Dan Defrancesco and Pat Acone.
The first team is currently a mixture of players who played before university and people who picked the sport up when they came to Manchester. Many of the team also play for Timperley Lacrosse club and other clubs around Manchester at weekends. High standards have been set and 1st team Captain Sacha Oliver Stout is determined to keep the bar high stating – “We are aiming to win the premiership this year, there is no reason why we can’t.” Sacha also hopes the team will perform strongly in the Cup this season and bring home silverware for the club. “We have the players and the motivation we just need to score a few more goals. Defensively last year we had a good record and this is something we hope to maintain under the guidance of Dan and Pat who specialise in defence coaching.”
Manchester went into Wednesday’s highly charged derby game against Sheffield with confidence after a solid 11-7 win over Loughborough the previous week. Coach Dan Defrancesco praised the defensive work he has seen from the team but also wanted to be able to bring American flair to the English game; “We have a solid defence which is something as coaches we push for but here in England we need to push the offensive side of things, there is talent in the team to do this and the goals will come.” Flair was certainly not lacking against Sheffield for both the men’s 1st and 2nd teams.
In the men’s 1st’s game the first quarter started strongly for the home side, with American Steve Caditz scoring within minutes with a powerfully strike catching the Sheffield defence off guard. The away team seemed stunned by the quick passing and speed Manchester showed and by the first quarter were already 8-0 down. There had certainly been the ‘American flair’ coach Defrancesco had been looking for, especially demonstrated by attacker Zach Cecil who had grabbed himself an impressive hat trick. The second quarter fared much better for Sheffield, who fought hard for possession however any hope of a comeback was squashed by the combination of the Americans Cecil and Caditz who once again found the back of the net. The half time whistle couldn’t have come sooner for Sheffield who found themselves trailing 13-0.
Sheffield rallied in the third, scoring early. However the home side was now in full flow and there was nothing the defence could do to stop the likes of Ben Stringer and Cecil bearing down on goal. The attackers had well and truly got into the grove of things and began taking spectacular shots from distance. The end of the 3rd quarter saw Manchester coming in with a comfortable 16-1 lead. The last 20 minutes was all Manchester, with Sheffield struggling to find a way past newly recruited keeper Tom Poffley. A solid and well organised Manchester defence worked Sheffield’s attack hard and Stringer was able to smash home several more goals and saw his total come to an impressive 6 for the match. By the end Manchester cantered in with an impressive 22-2 score line.
It was a dazzling display from Manchester leaving Sheffield sullen faced after also losing 9-0 in the 2nd team game that had kicked off earlier. An impressive start for Manchester, hopefully Sasha Oliver Stout and his players can keep the performances at this level during the season. Durham the league favourites need to watch out, the Manchester magic is coming.