UEA women’s lacrosse continued their annual tradition of a Derby Day victory as they beat Essex 7-3.

Facing a much stronger Essex side than last season, UEA were made to sweat in the first half. Captain Phoebe Hartz opened the scoring but Essex quickly drew level. UEA were passing the ball nicely around the Essex goal but the hosts were dangerous going forward.

The lively Emily Stoker caused problems for the home defence throughout, and she found the net either side of the first quarter break, first after some good passing and then from a penalty. Essex reminded UEA of their threat with a goal just before halftime to make it 3-2.

UEA really began to take control in the third quarter. Adela Milà-dePuri, a late addition to the squad following an injury to Ellie Lynch, popped up with a fourth and Cat Stallard soon made it five.

The Eagles added two more in the final quarter after Essex pulled one back, as Emily Stoker secured her hat-trick and vice-captain Imogen Arzt-Jones rounded off the scoring with a powerful effort from close range. UEA kept the pressure on until the final whistle with Emi Collin coming close to a deserved goal. Hartz had more opportunities, flashing wide after being set up by Stoker before being denied by the Essex keeper after cradling from inside her own half.

Far from being the walkover some expected, the game was won by UEA’s composure and hard work, with the entire midfield putting in strong shifts going forward. UEA’s patient build-up play in attack from the likes of Stallard, Amy Coregan and Cat Andrews was an important factor. UEA’s team was drawn from both the first and second sides, with seconds captain Taylor Bennett marshalling the back line well alongside Kiki Abay. Keeper Bethan Nokes had to be alert at times to keep Essex at bay.

After the win, Hartz told Concrete: “It was really difficult picking the squad, especially as we’ve got almost 40 girls now split between the teams. The team played really well, we deserved this win.

“I was pleased to get a goal. It was a bit frustrating because I had a lot more shots at goal, but the Essex keeper was extremely good.”

Despite a solid performance, UEA’s men were unable to make it their year as they lost 9-2.

Captain Harry Harris and Jack Govey netted for the Eagles, but it was not enough against a strong Essex team. They peppered UEA’s goal with shots, and were 3-0 up by the end of the first quarter, extending their lead to four soon after. UEA rallied as the game went on, with some promising attacking moves from Will Vickers, Matt Dewhurst and Harris. Seb Grant faced off well. When the ball reached the Essex half, Sean Cullum and Mitchell Hoverd looked lively. However, the Eagles defence were never idle for long, matching Essex’s physicality, and keeper Chris Irvine made several good saves.

UEA were cheered on in both games by an impressive following, including a coach of supporters who made their way to Colchester and braved the rain in the Square afterwards. Despite the mixed results, UEA spirits remained high after what was many of the players’ final match in an Eagles jersey.