The stakes were high in British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Big Wednesday’s men’s lacrosse final. It was set to be a thrilling match, and it did not disappoint.
The top two teams in the Premiership, Nottingham and Durham, went head to head in a Midlands vs. North battle for the BUCS Championship title in Loughborough. Going into the game, Durham had the upper hand, having already beaten Nottingham twice in the league. In fact, Durham were unbeaten all season, and no team has ever triumphed over them since 2010. Nottingham knew they were to face a very strong side, but had positive attitudes after a 22-6 demolition of Oxford in the semis.
Although the vast majority of Durham’s first team are recruited Americans (a cause for debate in many teams), Nottingham also had a few secret weapons. Some of the strongest players – Kam Bampus, Nick Agrissani, Tyler Wilcox and Dan Atkinson – have all played at a high level in the US and Canada, but not all of them have been at full fitness when playing Durham before. Although these players were key during the game, we also had a lot of homegrown talent. In particular, Men’s Lacrosse President Josh Dodd and Men’s 1st Team Captain Henry Tudor-Taylor, played important roles.
They came into the match being underdogs, and very nearly came out champions. From the very first face off, Nottingham had control, scoring three goals right away. This frazzled the Durham players – they had never been challenged like that before. As both teams settled into the pace of the game, the score became 4-2, before an incredible goal by Nick Agrissani made the score 5-3 after the first quarter.
Durham were clearly getting more frustrated – shown by some aggressive play resulting in a broken stick for the purple team
Going into the second, Nottingham still looked strong with Kam Bampus winning every single face-off and scoring more goals to give the Notts crowd even more to go wild about. Durham were clearly getting more frustrated – shown by some aggressive play resulting in a broken stick for the purple team. They called a timeout just before the end of the first half, no doubt to talk about how the triple threat of Kam, Nick and Tyler were still managing to penetrate the usually rock-solid Durham defence.
In the second half with the score 6-4, Nottingham scored another two quick goals, and the crowd became confident that the boys could pull it off. However, with the score at 8-6, the game became more even, with both teams having equal possession and Durham clawing their way back up. Although Notts ended the quarter promisingly up 8-7, Durham looked to be very strong and on the brink of an epic comeback.
The final quarter was where it went wrong for the green and gold
The final quarter was where it went wrong for the green and gold. Durham were able to find the back of the net using fast breaks and clinically placed shots, and with six minutes left on the clock, they stormed ahead 10-8. The atmosphere on the pitch was electric, but despite overwhelming support from the Notts crowd, Durham pulled ahead further 11-8. When the final whistle blew, it was a bittersweet moment as UoN could almost taste victory for three quarters of the match, only to be overtaken in the last. Despite the score, it was one special game, with incredibly well-earned silver medals and the boys performing spectacularly to threaten Durham in a way that no team has done in recent memory.
Man of the Match Dodd gave his verdict on the game: “The match was one of the best matches I’ve played in, it was such a high quality game and a great advert for the sport. We came out of the gates hard and I don’t think they were ready for us. The support from the crowd was unbelievable, cheering at every moment. That definitely drove us and was a big reason as to why we played the best game of our season. Hopefully we can use this feeling to drive us so we can get the win next year”.
Georgie Lack (Ladies Lacrosse President)
Images: English Lacrosse