Waiting game for triumphant Hillcroft
League leaders Hillcroft have plunged into a two-week game break trough after their heroics at Earlsfield gave them a launch-pad for a title charge.
A bye week and space for players to attend international trials has left the Tooting team with time to kill when they would probably rather be on the turf pressing home their advantage.
The 9-5 win set down a marker for a memorable season and skipper Tom Loake commented: “We had two 1-goal losses to Spencer last year so it was great to get a win this time round. We were pleased with how the offense controlled possession, particularly their ability to kill off the game in the fourth quarter. A huge all round effort from the defense to kill off all their man-ups and to limit their team to 5 goals - not sure when that last happened!
“It was a great win but the season is 18 games long and there is a lot of lacrosse still to play. We now have two weeks off so we need to make sure we're sharp for a difficult away trip to Bristol on 28 October.”
Hillcroft face Spencer again in the opening round of the Senior Flags on November 11 and expect nothing but a ‘strong response’.
Spencer were generous in defeat with co-captain Tom Roche stating: “Hillcroft played a great game. It's testament to the improvements they've made over the last few years.
“But it won't change a huge amount about how we approach the rest of the season, every team wants to win every game they play in! We'll refocus on ourselves and be ready to play Spencer lacrosse for this Saturday vs Cardiff.”
Co-captain Resh Panesar added: “One loss doesn’t define our season. We will be back stronger.”
All eyes will focus up the A1 tomorrow for the long-awaited Hertfordshire derby between Hitchin and Welwyn – christened the ‘Herts Classic’ by some.
The Warriors head to Hitchin on the back of two impressive wins on their return to the top flight after a two-year absence while the hosts have stuttered into 2017/18. Welwyn suffered two defeats to their neighbours in the relegation season and are determined to avenge those and keep the momentum from last week’s 11-6 win over Bristol.
“It was fantastic to get another really important win under our belts. We've now beaten two of the teams we saw as our main competitors going into the season, which is a testament to the hard work the guys have put in to prove we are worthy of a Premiership spot,” said captain Alex Harper.
“Our performance was much more assured this week. We looked more settled and confident at both ends of the field and it was a true team performance. There's a real hunger in the team which I hope will see us continue to improve week on week.”
French international LSM Lester Salmins took the MoM honours for his dynamism and forcing crucial turnovers.
The Bombers were in the game for the first 30 minutes but the home team started to pull clear and Guy Oldring said: “We were sloppy in the 3rd Quarter and they punished us with 3 more fast break goals. Their number 13 was superb and very clinical.
“From there it was too far to recover. We have a lot to work on but it's always good to have a clear plan for improvement.
“I thought overall Welwyn looked really good and thoroughly deserved the win.”
The Bombers have a bigger roster for this week’s visit of Cambridge University and Oldring added: “We are looking forward to correcting our mistakes from last week.”
Hitchin fell to a 13-7 defeat at Reading but after their opening day savaging by Spencer, it was a marked improvement and were 2-0 up in the 1st Quarter.
“It was just what we needed after Spencer the week before. We let things go a bit in the second quarter and couldn't repair the damage done later in the match,” said captain Tom Clohessy. “A shout out must go to Toby Stapleton who scored a hat-tick on the day and played well. Reading, as always, were a solid team with just too much for us on the day.
“We are looking forward to this weekends Herts derby. It's great to have Welwyn back in the league and welcome them to Hitchin for our first home game of the season. The team have been working hard in training this week and are really looking forward to it.”
Rob Day and skipper Paul Milner both bagged hat-tricks with Fred Larsson getting two as the attack welcomed the influential Will Stott back from injury. The Wildcats turned on the afterburners to race from 0-2 to a commanding 7-2 lead at Half Time as they started to find the form that has eluded them in the first two games.
Hitchin stayed in the hunt but Reading saw it out comfortably to claim their first win of the season.
Blues got back to winning ways with co-captain James Kidd leading the charge with a hat-trick while Dave Cluney completed a commanding midfield display with two goals and Dave Baldwin gave them control at face-off.
The home team jumped out to a strong lead but Cardiff grew into their assignments and started to build a platform on their impressive defence and a towering performance from James Richardson in goal.
“We started well controlling most of the possession in the first quater. We were dodging well from the midfield and found the open man on many occasions,” said Kidd. “The first half we felt largely in control but couldn't get the goals to show it and as the game went on we started to get a bit scrappy in offense.
“Cardiff didn’t roll over, showed character and fight and should be fine this year. We showed glimmers of what we are capable of offensively - now we have to hammer it home at training. Once again the defense was superb lead by Cam Tobin between the pipes.”
Hampstead’s ‘Big Black Train’ is rolling along nicely with a 19-6 victory over Cambridge after the visiting students had the temerity to take a 2-0 on early unforced turnovers. The home team took a 5-2 Quarter lead and never looked back as their rock solid defense and potent offense went to work.
The goals were shared around eight scorers and a seven-goal blitz in Q3 taking the score from 10-3 to 17-4 ended any hope of an upset.
“Cambridge’s goalie was out-standing and denied us time and again in a Man of the Match performance,” said Dennis Tobin. “Cambridge as a team executed well in transition, with some great individual efforts to notch their goals.”
The champions travel to Blues in what will be a tough test of both of teams’ title ambitions.
Cambridge are on the road again to Bristol while Spencer head down to Cardiff.
Hampstead 19 - 6 Cambridge
Reading 13 - 7 Hitchin
Spencer 5 - 9 Hillcroft
Blues 10 - 4 Cardiff
Welwyn 11 - 6 Bristol Bombers
Bristol Bombers v Cambridge (12:00pm)
Harlequins v Spencer
Hitchin v Welwyn
Blues v Hampstead