Saturday 7th September 2019, Odd Down Sports Ground, Bath –
Cheltenham’s annual visit to Bath 8s, hosted by regional frenemies Bath Lacrosse Club, is one of the best events of the Lacrosse calendar. This year Cheltenham took not 2 but 3 teams to the tournament – 1 for the women and 2 for the men: Cheltenham Women’s, Cheltenham Cougars, and Cotswold Cheltonians.
The squads featured many debuts including: defender Sarah Thomas stepping into goal after just one session of goalkeeping practice, Tom Blunsden stepped up to captain the Cotswolds in their debut tournament, and Cheltenham debuts for Elliot Thorp, Jenny Wood and Vanesha Patel.
The ladies, captained by Lydia Nicholson, started strong, thrashing Guildford 14-3 in their first game of the day, in which the defenders and keepers couldn’t stop stopping the opponents, while the attackers couldn’t stop scoring! Performances didn’t slow down there either, as the ladies went on to beat Swansea 10-2 in their second game of the day. Despite a furious display, Cheltenham fell behind 5-10 against prolific Londoners Blues. A great match against Rainbow Rexes, who fielded some very talented players, pushed Cheltenham to the end, with a game that finished with a 4-3 win for Cheltenham. Cheltenham went on to collect a tasty win against tournament hosts Bath, but suffered a respectable 9-6 loss to eventual tournament winners Bath Uni.
Cheltenham missed out on the finals by just 1 point though they left Bath feeling like winners – as defender Becky Carter put it “it felt like a team who could win the league”.
We’ll hold you to that, Becky!
The girls’ highlights:
- Clear denied!: Despite a long clear, verging on a shot, from the opposing team’s goalkeeper, Lydia Nicholson snatched the ball from the aair and brought the ball right back to them
- Wardrobe malfunction: Confused as to why she was in Bath, attacker Lizzie Tearle brought a pencil skirt as part of her kit – we assume someone stepped up and saved the day with a more practical solution…
- A force to be reckoned with: Defender Paige Rushton spent her day closing down countless fast breaks and even prevented a goal with a spectacular last-minute trail check.
- 1 v 1s: Becky Carter held her own when defending in numerous one-onone situations
- Coast to Coast: Hannah Trefgarne delivered a spectacular full pitch transition to score
- Clever girl…: Despite being a lover of dinosaurs, Sarah Thomas denied the Rainbow Rexes a draw with a brilliant last minute save in their 4-3 victory
- A game of two Hannahs: Hannahs Trefgarne and Thrower worked together to strip and collect a ball off a player – really showing that many Hannahs make light work!
Women of the Tournament
Offensive – Vanesha Patel
Scored a goal on her debut as well as posed a threat in attack throughout the tournament. Welcome to the club Vanesha!
Defensive – Sarah Thomas
Fantastic first stint in goal, with some tremendous and game changing saves. Sarah’s adaptability really saved the day!
Cheltenham Cougars (Men’s 1s)
Captained by David Lennox, the Cougars started their day strong with a 4-0 win over Cardiff University; Lennox, Vice-Captain Pete Smith and Max Biddlestone all found the net with goals from all angles thanks to brilliant team efforts. Game 2 saw Cheltenham sorely miss out against Reading in a 2-1 loss, despite Gary Wood finding the net once and hitting the post on another occasion. Cheltenham’s game against last year’s winners Cheadle resulted in a loss following an excellent performance from the northern side, a saving grace being Biddlestone finding the top corner thanks to a crisp feed from Lennox after a crafty dodge from X.
Everyone’s favourite Western side bounced back and demolished league-above rivals Bristol Bombers with a 6-0 romping featuring long-pole goals from former Bombers Matt Parkes and Guy Oldring, as well as goals from Biddlestone, Wood and a brace from Smith – hopefully just a taste of what is to come in the Cotswolds League this coming season. SEMLA Division 2 rivals Epsom put up a good fight, especially their keeper who saved no fewer than 3 one-on-ones to deny Cheltenham a greater lead in Cheltenham’s 3-2 victory over them, with goals coming from Parkes and Lennox, who scored a brace featuring a contender for best team goal of the season. To round off the day, Cheltenham faced Stoke in a goal heavy game where goals from Lennox, Smith and Wood resulted in a 4-3 win for Cheltenham.
A strong performance led to a strong result, as Cheltenham finished 10th out of 32 teams – a performance to be proud of!
What you missed on Match of the Day:
- From Top Scorer to Top Keeper: Slipping from Offence to Defence, Lennox found himiself the last line of defence against Reading and saved a shot on the line with his helmet
- Team goal of the season candidate no.1: Matt Parkes transitions, offloads to Adam Green, passes to Biddlestone, passess across goal to Lennox, who pops it in the top corner. Clinical vs. Epsom
- If you don’t buy a ticket…: Goalkeeper Pete Stefaniak tried his luck with a worm-burning shot from the halfway line, which sadly missed
- Team goal of the season candidate no. 2: Parkes to Wood, offloads to Lennox, who rolls on his man, and passes to Biddlestone who was cutting through crease and beat the keeper. Looking sharp vs Bombers
- Fooled ya!: Adam Green faked an Epsom player so far in the wrong direction that he tripped over in confusion
- It takes two: Defensive duo Tom Harris and Guy Oldring held off 4 Epsom players in a 2 v 4 fast break; Oldring retrieved the ball to prevent a likely goal and put Chletenham on the counter attack
- Triple Threat: Cougars and Cotswolds shared all three Cheltenham keepers: Steve Bennett, Pete Stefaniak and James Lloyd, all of whom put in amazing shifts for both teams.
Lennox – 5
Biddlestone – 4
Smith – 4
Wood – 3
Parkes – 2
Oldring – 1
Men of the Tournament
Offensive – David Lennox
Well deserved thanks to being the top scorer, a frequent part of team goals, saving a shot and being a brilliant leader.
Defensive – Matt Parkes
Masterful in defence and was instrumental in team goals, transitions and even netted two goals of his.
The newly formed Cotswold team started their day strong with a 2-2 draw against Bath Uni thanks to goals from Captain Tom Blunsden and long-standing Cheltenham man Kel Monstad. Bath 8s is always challenging, with top teams from across the country competing, which meant trouble for the un-tested Cotswold team whose second game of the day was against experienced Welsh side Ruthin. A brilliant defensive display led by Rhys Topping kept the scoreline to a loss of just 3-1, with the clean sheet denied by a Kel Monstad goal. Despite a strong start against the Bathletes, in which Blunsden and Monstad scored goals to create a 2-0 lead, a second half return resulted in an undeserved 3-2 loss for the Cotswold team. Game 4 was one of promise, in which Camden Capybaras, a team destined to play Cheltenham in this coming SEMLA season, could only get one goal past Cheltenham in a 1-0 defeat. The Cotswolds then faced a loss against premiership side London Raptors 4-0, an admiral score given the difference in calibre. The day closed out with a 5-2 loss against the Nottingham Trent University team, featuring goals from Jack Lesniewski and Tom Blunsden.
The results don’t reflect the performance, in which every player gave their all. The Cotswold Cheltonians finished their first ever tournament ahead of much bigger sides Cardiff University, Rainbow Rexes and tournament hosts Bath.
- From outta nowhere!: The Cheltonians held back a fast-break from Ruthin long enough for Rhys Topping to crash back from out of nowhere to strip an opponent and win the ball back
- The phantom lefty: Jack Lesniewski deceived an NTU defender into believing he was right-handed, but a swift change to his dominant left and a charge on goal led to Jack scoring a brilliant individual goal
- Is there no-one else?!: Another shout-out to Lesniewski, who held his own against two players at once on two separate occasions against NTU
- Shin-ied!: James lloyd wasn’t fooled in a 1v1 against London Raptors. The opposing attacker faked once, faked twice but still couldn’t beat the decorated keeper, who saved his shot with a shin
Blunsden – 3
Monstad – 2
Lesniewski – 1
Men of the Tournament
Offensive – Tom Blunsden
A true leader throughout, great face-offs, goals, transitions and even spells of defence. Top scorer for the Cotswolds.
Defensive – Rhys Topping
Brilliant, consistent defensive display against some formidable opponents. Held team together during moments of high pressure.
Thank you to Bath for hosting yet another excellent tournament and congratulations to tournament winners Bath Uni (Women’s) and Hillcroft (Men’s). We’ll see you next year!
Credit – Photography by Elliot Thorp