UEA Lacrosse are hoping that 2019 will be the year they finally get a double win over their Essex counterparts.
The women have a very good record against the Blades on Derby Day, having won the last eight matches. They returned from Colchester with a 7-3 victory last year despite facing a much tougher Essex side than the year before when they won 17-0 at Colney Lane.
However, the men have always been edged out by their Essex counterparts. They lost 9-2 last year with consolation goals for Harry Harris and Jack Govey, however this year the team is hungry for their first Derby Day title and is better prepared than ever before.
UEA women’s and men’s teams have this week been enjoying a two-day pre-Derby Day training camp led by Loughborough head coach Chris Webborn to get them ready for the big day.
It’s been a successful season for the Eagles. All three BUCS sides secured safety in their respective leagues, the men’s firsts staying in Midlands 1A after a dramatic late win against Nottingham Trent 2s at Colney Lane (pictured) following promotion last term. The women’s firsts enjoyed a cup run in the Midlands Conference Cup, reaching the semi-final, with both firsts and seconds also picking up some emphatic league wins.
Last month, UEA sent a men’s and a women’s side to Bristol for the BUCS National 8s tournament. After qualification matches, the men’s side won silver medals in the second-level Trophy competition. They also prepared for Derby Day with a morale-boosting win over Essex in overtime. The women beat Leicester on the way to coming fifth in their Trophy, without Cat Stallard who missed out on most of the day with an injury.
Both teams also enjoyed several friendlies in the run up to Derby Day, with the women travelling to Stowe School for two matches and the men hosting Middlesex and Cambridge which allowed a number of players to get minutes under their belts before the big day.
UEA Lacrosse have two players representing their countries at the upcoming Nick Kehoe International tournament in Manchester, on the weekend of the 4th and 5th May.
Before Easter, it was announced that men’s first team skipper Travis Payne had been selected for the English Universities side for the home nations tournament. He will be joined by men’s club captain Charlie Albuery, who has this week been called up to the Ireland development squad alongside UEA alumni Mike Whitcutt and Andy Fraser.
Payne told Concrete he was ‘ecstatic’.
‘It’s something I said I wanted to do when I started playing Lacrosse. To set that goal and have it fulfilled feels great.
‘We had initial trials to make it through to the South-East regional team. There were 44 guys and only 18 were going to make it through. We had a fitness test, I was a runner before I was a Lacrosse player so that was my thing. I had to show the coaches that I was the hungriest guy on the field, that I wanted it more than anyone else.
‘I made that team and we went to the national selection tournament for England. That was hard, there were some great players out there. Some of these guys were really savvy with their hands and had been playing for longer than me. I just made sure I was the hardest worker on the field and here we are!’
Albuery added: ‘It was a huge honour to get called up to play for the Ireland Development team – I’m really looking forward to testing my game out against some seriously strong competition. With any luck you’ll be seeing me in the green and white jerseys for a long time!’
There has been more recent good news for UEA Lacrosse. The club has been nominated for a handful of awards at the UEA Sport Awards, on Friday 3rd May, including Club of the Year, Sportsman of the Year for Payne and Volunteer of the Year for Lacrosse Activator Gemma Moore.
The women have made a habit of winning Derby Day in recent years but must keep their heads and concentrate on their own game as they look to set the seal on a good season, while the men’s season of experience at a higher level and good record in high pressure matches puts them in the best position possible for a historic first ever Derby Day win to end a season of firsts.
Said Payne: ‘We’ve achieved a lot this year in UEA Lacrosse, but capping it off with a win on Derby Day… you couldn’t write it, it would be a fairytale.’
A fairytale that could well come true on the 1st May…