A lonely coach in Luxembourg
When last week 8 men from Maastricht Lacrosse joined the Namur Knights, the upcoming exams, a couple of injuries and other reasons resulted in Coach Harry Owrid being a lone cowboy in traveling to Luxembourg to face of against the Blacksmiths. He wrote a nice game report, so without further due:
When we arrived in Luxembourg for the second league game of the year with Namur Knights, it certainly looked like we had a daunting task ahead of us. The weather was hot, we only had one substitute and the Luxembourg Blacksmiths looked to be fielding a full strength squad for their home match with seven substitutes of their own.
The game started off with a bang, with the Blacksmiths winning the first two faceoffs decisively and scoring with their first two shots on goal. Fortunately the Knights were able to match the intensity and scored two in quick succession from their first shots on target as well, both coming from nicely worked two man games from up high.
The Blacksmiths proved the better side over the rest of the quarter and increased their lead to 5-2. Despite the temperature and the fast tempo of the game, the Knights held on with Mark scoring a lovely goal after a great solo effort with a dodge from up top. He carried on this fine form after fighting hard for a ground ball, working hard to get his hands free and finishing an underarm shot right in front of the goal.
The score now read 5-4 and it looked like it was going to remain competitive throughout, however the Blacksmiths called a stick check on Mark's stick shortly after he scored. Despite being legal in terms of pocket depth, one of the most common concerns for stick legality, it was deemed illegal due to the bottom sidewall string being too long. As a result the goal was cancelled and we were back to 5-3.
Tempers were high throughout the match with a variety of fouls being called, including a two minute penalty for unsportsmanlike behaviour at one point from one of the Blacksmiths. The Knights did well to keep their heads cool and focused on the game but we could have taken better advantage of some of our man-up situations.
The next half proved to be a fairly difficult experience, with the lack of substitutes and the heat beginning to really take their toll. The Knights had plenty of good moments and managed two more goals over the half, with Frederick getting himself a good goal and another assist as a result of a man-up play.
Despite this, the Blacksmiths proved to be the better side and they extended their lead steadily, with a variety of good solo efforts from some of their players. The final result was 14 - 5 however this does not do justice to the good fight that the Knights put up, especially in the first half. They did this against a team that always traditionally plays better at home when they have access to their full roster and it will be exciting to see how the Knights fare in the return fixture. The score difference would have also could have been significantly higher however our goalie, who had limited game experience, really found his form towards the second half of the game and made some important stops.
Goalscorers for the Knights:
The whole team put in an incredible level of effort given the situation and left everything on the field which was really a satisfying feeling in spite of the result.
The offense looked significantly improved compared to our first game of the season and we created some good opportunities, from our two-man games up top.
Our settled defence also worked very well and we managed to contain them a lot of them time when they had possession and were moving the ball around quickly.
Things to improve on:
We could have improved on our clearing and moving the ball up field in a more organised fashion; without the energy to run the ball up the field we need to be able to pass the ball around the defence to find the open man and take the ball up without pressure however we did not quite have the discipline / training to do this successfully on the game day.
Our settled offense from the top of the field worked well, however we need to mirror that also behind the goal and get the attack players involved. This is especially important for sharing the workload with the Midfielders when we are running low on numbers. This means getting the ball down to X, turning the goalies head and then running looking for either a solo dodge or a two man game behind the goal. If we don't have much success with the dodges, we need to try setting picks for our attack players and forcing the defence to switch so we can have an Attack player matched up with a short stick midfielder behind the goal.
Whilst our settled defence was good, we really got burned by their solo dodge efforts. We were sliding correctly from the adjacent most times and although the slides came well, they were not effective in stopping the dodgers every time. We need to focus on playing the body, and also our positioning to turn them away from the goal and on to their weak hand. Overall this was very good though and an improvement on last week, however we need to take this next step to handle powerful individual dodgers like we experienced against the Blacksmiths.
Overall, many positives to take away from what was always going to be a difficult game and we have many things to work on ready for our next game against the Griffins in Machelen on 10th November.