After a few days of pure relaxation we now had the prospect of playing lacrosse in temperatures of over 30°C, not a problem many of us are used to and not one to be complained about!
Our sister team, ArchLevel had a game at 10am and despite the previous night’s festivities and not having their own game until 14:30 there was a good showing from DreadLAX cheering them on from the start. ArchLevel played well, probably due to the enthusiastic support they were receiving, and came out with win number one!
The game, and DreadLAX’s at 14:30, was held at Kestel stadium a short drive down the coast from the hotel. The field was great and the location right on the sea made for a nice breeze throughout most of the day, shade however was a little hard to come by outside of the stands.
After walking back to the hotel to grab the rest of the team and playing gear, DreadLAX assembled back at the stadium for game one against pre-tournament favourites Northstar Nation from Minnesota. Given the heat and the sun the referees were calling water breaks half way through each quarter; this was very much appreciated by both teams!!
The game was played in very good spirits following the previous few days of bonding but was by no means a friendly with some solid defence on display from both teams. Northstar’s experience and some fantastic individual play showed over the game though and they ran out 10-3 winners. DreadLAX really showed that we could be a threat to any team in the tournament though and were happy with the first game.
After heading back to the hotel for a swift turn around we had to head off to the Oba stadium for game number two starting at 17:30. Due to some minor transport issues the game started a little late which was great for the temperature but not so good for the light later on in the game.
The Moscow side was a real mix of inexperienced players just learning the game through some guys with a few years of experience up to their player coach who was one of the better players in the tournament and their major threat going forwards. We didn’t play as well as we might have liked possibly still recovering from the earlier game and probably with one eye on the bar as the evening drew in, but still ground out the result coming out on top five to two. A couple from south London had come over with us to watch the game which was much appreciated and by all accounts they had a good time and enjoyed the sport, possibly two new recruits to the lacrosse world??
We all got the bus back to the hotel and grabbed some food, agreeing to assemble at the roof bar later on. We indulged in a few whisky and cokes with a few of the other teams as well as our new found English friends (fans) until the bar closed and we were removed to the lobby bar to carry on.
We played some more 3 man on the terrace and met a couple more interesting guests, one English holidaymaker keen on finding out what we were up to, and one Russian soldier keen on us knowing what he was up to (cue machine gun actions, shouting and love of Putin…). Eventually we all retired to bed ready and raring to go for day 2!
Thursday saw DreadLAX drawn against Just Lax It! of Germany and our friends from Norway, NTNUI. We assembled in the lobby and awaited our transfer to Oba stadium where both of our games would be. We played the game without our illustrious coach The Red Baron and didn’t ever really get firing properly. Despite some valiant efforts from midfield in the heat we came out very much second best to a better drilled side who wanted it more on the day. Despite the disappointing result we headed back to the hotel to refuel hungry for our target game of the week against the athletic and hardworking NTNUI.
We had a couple of hours to eat and sit around the pool before our bus to the second game, our opposition were also there and after a bit of chicken around who would leave first we all made it on to the bus eager to put on a good show.
As we expected the Norwegians started with a hard warm up and came out firing, we could probably have done with doing the same but started slow. Despite a helping hand in attack from Brain Potter to bolster out depleted numbers we went into the second half down by a few. The faceoff duties for DreadLAX were spread around with Al Harris coming out on top against the familiar face of Nick from NTNUI (with a little help from some illegal procedures). The second half was very hard fought in both halves of the field with lots of clean but hard play from both sides.
At the final whistle NTNUI came out seven to five victors, probably a deserved victory and we paid the price of a slow start against a very organised and hardworking team. The referees made a point of congratulating both teams on both the effort and the spirit of the game which is always something we strive for on tour.
Heading back to the hotel we had a dinner as team joined by some of the lovely ArchLevel girls (who the staff seemed to give particularly good service too). Having discovered we could order drinks to the dinner table, Brian decided to introduce the table to the joys of Turkish Raki, an aniseed flavoured spirit of questionable origin and unnecessary strength.
We had enough time for a few beers to wash away the Raki before boarding the buses to the tournament’s first big party night in town. The bus ride down was as eventful as usual and we arrived at the entrance to the club to be given a free shot and have a few drinks downstairs whilst they prepared for us on the roof bar.
The roof bar was awesome. We got up there and got ourselves a table and within seconds had a fishbowl on it to contend with. It turns out the hotel bar staff weren’t the only ones who were generous with their measures and with a little persuasion at the bar from our North American friends some of the drinks arriving were potential night ender, just ask Bradd Tipler.
As the night went on the Norwegian chaps became more topless and the tables became filled with dancing lacrosse players. It was a great night with great company and once back at the hotel it carried on in the hotel bar.
The next day had the games start later with us drawn against the Just Lax It! guys once again…