By James Martland
It has often been said that for sportsmen, it is not initial success which is the hardest achievement, but maintaining this over time. For Durham’s Men’s Lacrosse first team, there has been no such issue. Before this season, the side had won the previous seven BUCS Championships, demonstrating an incredible dominance from Durham in this field. Nevertheless, despite the continual pressure to succeed and maintain the standards set in previous years, the Men’s team have once again won this season, recording an unbeaten campaign and thus making it eight victories in eight years. This is a truly remarkable feat.
Indeed, it would be wrong to say that at any point this season the first team came close to letting this unbeaten record in the league slip. A five-goal victory in the final game away at Loughborough was the smallest margin of victory that the side obtained. Furthermore, Durham were also able to maintain three clean sheets in the league, with the largest win coming in the opening game of the season where they beat Leeds Beckett 27-0. In fact, the team were able to finish the league campaign with a goal difference of positive 146 from ten games. Team Captain Harry Perry believes that this incredible record achieved by the team over the last eight years does not provide added pressure, as some might suspect, but instead drives the side to victory when the going gets tough. “In those close games the reputation we have gives the first team an arrogance and belief that no matter what the score is, we are always going to come out on top.”
It appears that it is this spirit which has helped the side achieve another unbeaten season. Moreover, not only has the team dominated in its university division, but an 11-9 victory over England in a one-off game further highlights the extreme talent possessed by this group of Lacrosse players. In fact, given the ease with which the team have walked all over the BUCS division this year, Perry believes that England’s quality may have come as a shock to Durham in the early stages, but once his side settled down, they were the better team and fully in control. “Against England, I did think that we might be in for a loss in the initial stages of the game considering we went 4-0 down, but as soon as we got our heads together and adapted to the pace of the game, I knew that we were going to win.”
He acknowledges that this was the best performance of the season, but that it is important not only to look at the performance of the first team on the pitch but also off it. ‘The first team have helped immensely with the coaching of the newer players and their work at training with the rest of the club is a better indicator of their qualities in my opinion”, Perry commented.
This coaching is something which Perry is eager to stress and it is important to acknowledge that it is not only the first team who have had a highly successful season. Durham’s second team are so far unbeaten in the league as well and according to Perry, almost certain to be promoted. Perhaps, however, something which is even more impressive – with the help of coaching from players in the first team, alongside the expertise of American post-grads – is the third Lacrosse team. As Perry states, “Our third team has reached the semi-finals of the Cup, which is a fantastic feat considering 90% of them only picked up the sport in September.
Our American post-grads have really worked on developing a lot of the new players at the club and their work has been a pleasure to witness.” Overall, therefore, it has been a highly successful season for Durham Men’s first team, recording another winning unbeaten season in the league, as well as a highly impressive victory against England. It is important, however, to appreciate the success of the university as a whole in Men’s Lacrosse, with fantastic seasons for the 2nd and 3rd teams as well.
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons