The UEA Eagles Men’s Lacrosse team has won the Midlands 2B league for the first time in their history, securing promotion into the second tier of university Lacrosse, Midlands 1A.
The promotion will also see UEA entered into the national BUCS Lacrosse Trophy next season where they will do battle with the country’s best teams in the knockout cup.
The team has been on fine form all season, kick-started by an incredible October which saw UEA net 49 goals and concede just one in their first two games against midtable finishers Nottingham 3rds (19-0) and league whipping-boys Leicester 2nds (30-1).
UEA’s class really told in November as they ground out home wins against their two closest rivals Lincoln (9-5) and Oxford Brookes (9-3) before scoring 10 at De Montfort to extend their run to five unbeaten, going into Christmas with just one match left to play. An 8-0 win at mid-table Derby in UEA’s final league match of the campaign saw the Eagles confirmed as league champions with a perfect record of six wins in six matches and a goal difference of +70.
Goals from Hamish Lister, Mitchell Hoverd, Sean Cullum, Jhan Tibudan, Jack Govey, Chris Groom and a brace from Man of the Match Shu Omi saw UEA seal the win and with it the title, with keeper Chris Irvine and his defence shutting out the hosts’ attack to keep their second clean sheet of the season, despite poor weather and a physical Derby side.
Captain Harry Harris told Concrete he was “absolutely buzzing” to have won the league. He continued: “Only once did we look in trouble which was away at De Montfort in November. We were unexpectedly trailing at half time but we rallied brilliantly and came back to claim our toughest win of the season.”
Refusing to single out any star players of the forty-strong squad, Harris commented: “This has been a proper squad effort from start to finish. We’ve done this as a team, from the keepers to the attackmen we’ve been fantastic. “Lots of these boys were there when we so narrowly lost out on the final day of the season last year so this is a brilliant feeling, and one we feel we really deserve.”
In 2017 the Eagles agonisingly missed out on promotion, going down 5-4 away to champions Leicester in an otherwise unbeaten league campaign which also saw them defeated by the same team in the Midlands Conference Cup final.
This term, having already gone one better in the league, UEA’s attention has switched to doing the same in the cup. Next up is a winnable Valentine’s Day tie at home to Nottingham 3rds in the quarterfinal, after UEA eased past Oxford Brookes 2nds 10-4 in the round of sixteen. After the cup is concluded, hopefully culminating in the final in early March, all eyes will turn to the Derby Day clash at Essex. Last season UEA’s men couldn’t match the women’s victory over their rivals, but there is a hunger in the club to take the Derby Day winners’ medals this time around.
Although admitting that a Midlands Conference Cup run was the squad’s most pressing concern, Harris remarked: “Derby Day is in the back of our minds, we’re absolutely determined to be the first UEA men’s Lacrosse team to beat Essex and are quietly confident of doing just that.”
Men’s Lacrosse is described by BUCS as one of their fastest growing sports. UEA know they have their work cut out for them next season as they look to consolidate their place in the highest regional tier, with this season’s Midlands 1A division still too close to call.
As if to highlight the task facing UEA since gaining promotion last term, the all-conquering Leicester team have struggled to adapt to Midlands 1A and are now in danger of being immediately relegated again and swapping places with UEA.
Meanwhile, UEA women’s 1sts currently sit in a comfortable mid-table position in Midlands 2A with three wins so far and three matches remaining. With a muchchanged team from last year, they will nonetheless be hoping to repeat their 2017 Derby Day triumph when they travel to Colchester. This season has also seen UEA Lacrosse enter a second women’s team into BUCS competition for the first time.
They held their own in Midlands 3A, sitting third out of seven. The team has made Colney Lane an intimidating destination for visiting sides, dispatching Coventry 1sts and most recently Nottingham 4ths 15-7 and 18-5 respectively at home.