UEA women’s Lacrosse team are still waiting for their first points of the season after their depleted squad were beaten 21-4 by a strong Birmingham thirds outfit, after a week’s break from league action.
Captain Georgie Sutton’s side made the long journey to the West Midlands without a number of key players throughout the team including goalkeeper/defender Jemima Rohde, club captain Tabby Reuben in defence, midfielder Adela Milà-de-Puri and attackers Cat Stallard and Gemma Moore. UEA’s woes were further compounded when exciting fresher Carol Li limped off with an injury midway through.
New recruit Fiona McMartin, who only began playing the sport this year, was named in defence for her first competitive game of Lacrosse, while forward Amelia Ford was rewarded for her performances in the second team’s two wins to start the season with a promotion to the firsts – both made the most of their first minutes for the first team.
And although the result was as disappointing as the chilly, overcast weather, there were some well-worked goals for UEA to celebrate, all four courtesy of the lively Fiona Smith.
Although not her best day at the office at the draw, against a team which changed their draw to make life difficult for UEA, Phoebe Hartz stood out in midfield, providing three assists.
In the tit-for-tat opening exchanges, UEA were well in the contest for the first fifteen minutes.
The home side went ahead seconds after the start but were pegged back by Smith with a precise shot that snuck in the bottom left corner. Birmingham then regained their lead, before Smith netted from a penalty.
Birmingham then took the lead for a third time, before Hartz once again linked up with Smith who sprinted down the right and blasted in a powerful effort to restore parity at 3-3 after a breathless first ten minutes.
With the score at 4-3 to the hosts, in her first match of the season, goalkeeper Emily Winter made a trio of superb saves to keep her side in the contest. Despite the result, Winter was excellent, deservedly being named player of the match afterwards.
However, UEA’s defence couldn’t then stop a steady stream of goals from the Brummies who really asserted their dominance in the game from then on, with skilful moves in transition from their pacey midfielders, coming out just ahead of UEA in every area. This was despite the best efforts of combative Eagles vice-captain Tilly Pembroke who put in a dogged, battling shift in midfield.
There was still time for Smith to grab her fourth late on, again assisted by Hartz, but by the final whistle the score had crept up to 21-4.
Sutton reflected: ‘We started off really strong but dipped after about 20 minutes. We did get a goal in the second half but three came in the first half and I think that’s telling. The four that we did score were good, well-placed shots. I’m always looking for meaningful goals.
‘We introduced a few things in training at the weekend, so hopefully we can keep working on that. It does feel like we’re meshing more as a team; it’s a solid starting lineup now.
‘We need to work on people’s confidence to make a cut or go for a quick pass. We want to fine-tune things, so they have the confidence to go for that dodge and go to goal. We’re going to strip down the attack to the basics this week, and just work together as a team more.’
Sutton, herself an experienced goalkeeper, was full of praise for player of the match Winter, who also plays in midfield: ‘She did really well. She’s just so unafraid of the ball which is a fantastic quality for a goalkeeper. I’m very excited that she can play this year.’
The women’s firsts will look to bounce back tomorrow in the Midlands Conference Cup when they travel to Nottingham fourths. Sutton added: ‘Fingers crossed we can win that, then with another win against Derby in the next round we’re in the quarter-finals. I have high hopes for the cup.’
The women’s seconds claimed an emphatic second win of the season at home to Northampton firsts thanks to seven goals from Octavia Pither, five from Beth Heritage, plus hat-tricks for Rosie Lawrence and skipper Michelle Ward in a resounding 20-2 win, with Jess Free and Angie Massebieau adding to the rout.
However, they couldn’t keep up their 100 percent record away at Staffordshire, going down 8-2 with both goals from Heritage, standing in as captain alongside Lawrence for the match. UEA took the positives, with a number of new faces benefiting from competitive game time.