In true Oxford fashion, the dark blues came out to dominate. After a controversial warm up in a resident’s front garden in Eastbourne (where the University of Brighton is located), the team, headed up by Abdul El-Sayeed and John Patten, jogged out on to the STP Astroturf. The face-off, scheduled for 2pm, was finally taken twenty minutes later, with an early attempt at goal from the king of fo-go’s, Abdul on long pole.
Play settled down into a confident stream of passes around the crease from the Oxford attack. Confused by the mix of English and American accents shouting lacrosse terms like ‘I’m hot’, ‘slide’ and ‘help’, the Brighton defence gave in to an early dodge by Elias Rothblatt, who ripped it in leftie. Congratulations – you did St.Catz proud.
In rapid succession, the first quarter saw goals from #25 Mike Broida, our resident American leftie, who cranked it in and stunned the goalie. After some music off the pipework, #20 Peter “Matthew McConahay” Windsor went for the ankle-breaker with a low to low shot, shooting into the bottom corner of the Brighton goal. Despite the impending doom of rain and darkness looming on the East Sussex coastline, the first quarter score of 3-0 in Oxford’s favour maintained high morale for the team.
The whistle blew for the second 20 minute quarter, triggering a battle in midfield orchestrated by Eric Heisner, Joe Lockey and Sam Johns. Whilst the Oxford defence were briefly challenged by Brighton’s, displaying flair stick skills yet all-round nonchalance in attack, strong man marking and crisp passes in transition kept the Purple Panther’s scoreline to a minimal one goal. Oxford struck back quickly with a sizzler from Elias, his second of the game, showing us how they do it in the US of A.
As the second half got underway, Oxford leading by 5 goals to 1, the 3 strong crowd, composed of slightly baffled and likely lost OAPs, had high hopes of a goal infused 40 minutes of lacrosse. Sadly this wasn’t the case. Scrappy midfield, minor injuries and a setting sun played havoc with Oxford’s characteristic ‘sexy lax’. Nonetheless, the fort was held strong by the long poles – Abdul, Tom Clohessy, Stephen Gaw and Chris Needham – reinforced by the second line of defence in the form of goalie Cyprian Yonge. Saving multiple shots with the rim of his stick, he gained man of the match status, for admirable patience, feline-like reactions, and all-round great technique.
The final quarter rewarded the persistent audience, as #7 Mikey secured two more crease goals, confidently putting his body on the line each and every time. In the final 5 minutes, a luminescent yellow ball replaced the standard white one, prolonging play in the darkness until, finally, the referee admitted the conditions were ‘verging on dangerous’, blowing the final whistle. Three cheers were sounded, victory photos taken, and P90X stretches completed, before boarding the bus in military fashion and waving goodbye to the south coast. The Oxford reign continues…