The Bison Brawl
After competing in the Gait Cup, we jumped on a classic yellow school bus that would take us to the second half of the trip – The Bison Brawl. Based at the division 1 Bucknell University, it had great facilities with the air-conditioned rooms that the players had been waiting for. As soon as we arrived, the whole team flooded onto the main pitch in the stadium for a chuck-around. After this we headed to the rooms to prepare for the three games that followed the next day.
Day 1 of the tournament was full of highs and lows. We started the day of playing a team called Webster Thomas, a mediocre team who should have been beaten. Overall we played like we were half-asleep; there was a lack of communication in defence, which was apparent due to there being hardly any co-operation between players. With the defence not playing like a unit and the offence posing no real threat and not working for each other. We lost a game that we shouldn’t have and disappointed not only Coach Scott but also each other and ourselves.
After the game, we discussed as a team that we would never play how we did again, and talked about the things that weren’t there that should have been; such as working for each other and decision-making on the pitch. 23 Men. 1 Team.
The second game of the day was promised to be an intense one. Every player was determined to make coach proud and represent solid English lacrosse. The defence talked as much as possible and the attack didn’t take one break. The team played with fire in the belly and a cool mind. It was noticeable the difference, there were less turnovers, more team-goals scored, and less goals from the opposition. The game ended in a draw, this then meant that a “brave heart” ending was needed in which one player and one goalie from both teams were the only players on the pitch. Unfortunately Ben Reddy lost the face-off after a great effort during the game, and the opposition scored and won. Despite this so-called loss, the team took a positive look on the game and how we had performed.
The final game of the day was against the future Bucknell players. The team went in to the game relaxed as win or lose, the objective was to have fun and enjoy a good game of lacrosse between England’s finest youth players, and Bucknell University’s future competitive squad. We witnessed their lightning speed in defence, but also managed to put a couple in the back of the opposition’s goal. Overall, the game was enjoyable and we competed with them. From this game we learnt that with a relaxed team mentality, we could perform better than expected. Three more games lay ahead the next day.
Day two of the Bison Brawl contained three games against the ‘Shamrocks’ team, another Webster Schroeder and a team from Fairport.
We had a fantastic game against the so-called Shamrocks who were leading the tournament at this point. In the first half Will Baxter made some amazing saves and the defence cleared perfectly. These defensive efforts continued until the end of the game as Elliot Hurry went in goal and also made some vital saves. The importance of maintaining a solid defence was highlighted by the coaches with the intention of giving the offence more opportunities to put it in the back of the net against the Shamrocks goalie. With a driving goal from Alex Winton, quick-stick goal from Jake Howarth, a well-executed split dodge and then goal from Matt Rowarth we were even in the late stages of the game. The tension was high with little time left in the game and both teams attempting to score a winning goal. The defence avoided conceding and the ball went up field and then fed into Steve Ewing who was cutting in front of the goal. Great feed, and then a great inside finish by Steve. The game came to a close with celebrations from every player. A game that will never be forgotten against the team who went on to win the tournament.
The game against Fairport was an enjoyable one, despite the ambiguous decisions by the refs that always seemed to go the opposition’s way. Regardless, we played against a competitive side that were a pleasure to play with and talk to after the match. The defence continued being a solid unit at the back whilst the offence kept working for each other to create great scoring opportunities. A great goal from Steve Ewing was disallowed after he managed to put it in the back of the net after being pushed in the back by a defender. For some reason the refs allowed an almost identical goal from the other team. This sparked outrage on the bench, as Coach Scott was having none of it. Steve managed to cut inside and get past multiple defenders to score again however. The game ended 5-3 to Fairport.
We lost 7-4 to the Webster Schroeder with goals from Steve Ewing, Jake Howarth, Alex Russell, and Alex Winton. However this was another team that we could have beaten. Captain Steve continuing his driving in from the wing technique in order to keep the goals coming. The players seemed tired in this match, but nevertheless competed with the American competition.
The evening of the second day was when the All-star game was to take place. The Knights had done well and managed to have four players selected. Ciaran Johnson who had worked harder than anyone else in every game in the tournament to clear the ball up field, Elliott Condren who was always a strong offensive threat, and both the Goalies who had played brilliantly making important saves in every game. In the game Will Baxter managed to impress with multiple saves and an 80yrd run up the pitch to clear the ball. Elliott Hurry saved shots for the other team also. The middies seemed to enjoy the game also as it was a good display of the talent we were competing with. The players made the whole team proud.
The next morning, we had a quarterfinal match against Westfield, the team we had drawn/lost to on ‘Braveheart’. Despite a lack of enthusiasm by turning up at the pitch without a warm-up, the team knew that this could be their last game together so played to enjoy it. Tim Nicol scored a skilful bounce shot to start of the goals. For the whole of the tournament and especially in this game, Tim Collins was a hero on face-off, assisted by LSM Grady on the ground ball battle in the middle. The defence played physical and looked strong together. The opposition trash talked a lot but we showed them who were tougher by forcing turnovers and winning ground ball battles. After our early lead they came back to win the game from good play and not from our errors. Alex Russell scored a sweet dunk shot over the goalie, and Jose Cara blasted one into the bottom corner of the goal on a man-up opportunity. We put in a solid performance but this was the end of our tour.
An exhausted team headed to the airport with grins on their faces from enjoying the experience. Strong friendships were made and a great team returned home. We couldn’t have done any of it, or improved as much as we did without all the coaches and especially Coach Scott Weddell. An experience never to be forgotten.
Once a Knight, Always a Knight!