So the first box lacrosse tournament in England had been arranged, a fantastic effort from Alan Keeley of the London Knights and a whole host of others set up a weekend of box lacrosse in a rink down in Fareham predominantly used by roller hockey players (for now).
The tournament started with each team on the floor for half an hour of free practice. DreadLAX arrived in good time and got kitted up to take to the floor.
The rink is awesome to see for the first time and we got on in time for our free session and the change from field was apparent immediately. You have much less space around you, it’s much hotter with no breeze and the hard floor is much less forgiving to misplaced passes or shots. It was shaping up to be a testing but excited day.
We had the first game of the day to watch and learn as the Czech team (and hot favourites) LCC Radotin took on the Heaton Hornets. It was a good game to watch and after two intense periods it was Radotin’s win and time for DreadLAX to hit the floor.
With two games back to back against the other British teams we knew it was going to be tough and so it proved with two tough losses, 8:4 to the hosting London Knights and 16:4 to the Hornets. However we learnt a lot from what was for most of the team their first two games of box lacrosse and relished the next games.
After sitting back and watching Radotin churn out another victory we kitted up again for a game against the team from France, EuroLax, who most of us have met at one time or another at field tournaments over the years. The game was a close one with EuroLax’s higher numbers pushing us hard and with the scores tied at full time it went down to penalty shots! The DreadLAX goalkeeper, Eliot Pugh had has a stormer all day and once again proved his worth with DreadLAX coming out on top by 1 shot to record our first win of the tournament.
Unfortunately our most experience player, John Saunders, reagrovated a knee injury during the game putting him out for the rest of the weekend but luckily it was nothing as serious as initially feared and with help from the excellent on site first aid team he was walking by the next day.
The organisers once again stepped up and each team was given a box of prepared lunches to see us through the day, much appreciated by all and especially those of us not used to quite how draining the indoor game is!
After a short break and some time to chat to the other teams while taking in some much needed fresh air we were back on the field to face Radotin, buoyed by the fact that afterwards we had 2 games to kick back watch with a beer from the sidelines. We played our hearts out and despite the score line gave a really good showing of ourselves against the Czech champs on our first day of box, eventually coming out losers at twenty to zero but learning a hell of a lot in the process that we could put to good use in day two.
We sat back for the last two games of the day and had a few beers chatting to the other teams and the owner of the rink, Setti, who it turned out was an absolute legend. The games were great fun to watch and ended the day nicely as we headed outside to book cabs into Portsmouth to hit the local nightlife.
After showering and regrouping in town we headed for a much needed team meal. The Italian didn’t know what had hit it with Ed Beigel having three mains over the course of the meal! After a few glasses and wine and finishing off our food it was time to hit the club the tournament had arranged for the party, Tiger Tiger.
The club was packed, but very good fun with various themed rooms and lots of drink flowing. We sound the Heaton (ish) team, had a few drinks and some dancing, and by the end of the night were ready for some rest before a 10:35 game the next day.
Our first game on Sunday was a play in game against the Heaton Hornets. Another tough game saw us come out second best with the score of six to two, however it gave us the chance to shake off the cobwebs and come out running into our next play in game against EuroLax which was for a place in the semi-finals.
We played some real box lacrosse this time, pulling out some nice picks, hard defence and scoring some nice looking goals to run out winners six goals to two in what was a very enjoyable game.
We had the first semi-final to catch our breath, take on some more water and get prepared to take on the London Knights for a place in the final.
Although we played well in both offence and defence the extra experience and a couple of pars of fresh legs on the Knights side was too much for us this weekend and we lost six to four meaning we had to go straight back out for a third place game against the Hornets for our last game of the tournament.
The organisers were kind enough to give us a ten minute breather and then we came out hard to go out with our heads up. We played well, particularly in defence and in attack once again started to look like a box team rather than some field players on a rink. The game was tight and went right to the wire with us once again coming out on the wrong side with a two goals to one loss.
After that it was time to shake hands and settle in for the final with a few beers. The dulcet tones of John Saunders and Ed Beigel were called upon for commentary duty on the big game and the rest of his chilled out by the sideline.
It was bordering on exhibition stuff from the Czechs with some incredible ball movement throughout and another stand out showing from their goalkeeper.
The final score showed the real gulf in class between the game in the UK and the Czech Republic at nineteen goals to zero. However the improvement in most of the UK based players across all of the teams was noticeable and I think most who played got bitten by the bug to carry on so it could be the start of huge things in the UK!
Most teams said their goodbyes to hit the road/sea/air home and DreadLAX hit the bar to have a bit more of a chat with the owner and some of the remaining organisers who had put on such a great weekend.
After a while it emerged it was public skate time, so we pulled on some skates and went about trialling roller lacrosse! Watch this space…
In the meantime DreadLAX will be back on the outdoor field over the summer with an appearance back indoor at BoxMania in Lille, in November with the aim of getting a spot in the Aleš Hřebeský Memorial next April in Prague.
As always get in touch with us to find out where you can play next with DreadLAX!