Lacrosse Under 18 National Championships

Audrey Fithall

Lacrosse Victoria under 18 girls

Lacrosse under 18 girls and boys

In the week when the AFL played their first game for premiership points at a venue outside Australia, my daughter Audrey played in her own first international match. Representing Victoria in the under 18 national lacrosse championships in Perth, Audrey played twice against New Zealand. The Kiwis were there as part of their own preliminaries for the 2015 Under 19 world championships to be played in Edinburgh Scotland.

Lacrosse in Australia is a small sport, and this is exemplified in the national championships with only three states represented in each of the boys and girls competitions – Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Despite the small player population, at women’s under 19 world level, Australia is ranked number 2 behind the USA, having narrowly lost the gold medal game against the US in Hanover Germany in 2011. However, with lacrosse currently enjoying the fastest participation growth rate of any sport in the US, bridging that gap is going to be a challenge for Australian teams.

The tournament began on Sunday 21 April with the Victorian girls drawn against South Australia. There was a level of retribution being sought, with a South Australian team having beaten a Victorian team in controversial circumstances in the under 15 tournament last October. The under 15 tournament has multiple teams from the three states, and so is classified as a development tournament rather than as an official national championship. That doesn’t mean the interstate rivalries are any less intense. So at this under 18 tournament, looking for retribution and expecting a close match, Victoria won surprisingly comfortably 18 to 6 while WA defeated NZ. The New Zealand games, while an important experience for all players, were not part of the official tournament.

Day two saw Victoria defeat WA 14 to 5. The wins and margins in the first two games already almost guaranteed Victoria a place in the final. Their opponent would be determined by the SA-WA games. On Wednesday SA defeated WA by one goal while Victoria defeated NZ. All the teams played each other again in the second half of the week with the eventual finalist decided on Friday when the hosts WA defeated SA by 2 goals and progressed to the play-off game by virtue of superior head-to-head goal difference. In the boys’ completion, the finalists were also Western Australia and Victoria.

The girls’ final was a struggle early and the 6 goals to 2 half-time margin signalled a harder-fought match than had been experienced earlier in the week. With two goals each early in the second half, WA were still in touch. However, Victoria scored the last nine goals to win going away 17 to 4.

The boys’ game was a very close affair throughout, with WA leading by a maximum margin of three goals. In the last quarter (yes – the boys do play quarters while the girls play halves) Victoria whittled away at the lead, levelling with about five minutes to play. In the last 30 seconds, Victorian Alex Pike held the ball and ran the clock down awaiting his opportunity. In a flurry of bodies and sticks he goaled with 6 seconds left on the clock. Normally that time would be run down on the play re-start face-off, but in the excitement of the goal celebration, the bench players had run on the field and Victoria was penalised for having too many players on the ground. The goal stood but WA were given possession at the centre. Within the remaining time, WA took the ball to goal and had a shot which was only just kept out by the Victorian goalkeeper. The final minutes of this match can be seen here.

Audrey had a good tournament, and along with four other Victorians, three Western Australians and two South Australians, was named in the All Stars team. A few months ago when the try-outs for this Under 18 Victorian team were conducted, Audrey’s sister Ursula was unwell and unable to try-out. Given they turn 16 later this month, they both have two more years at this level and both can also decide whether they want to put themselves forward as candidates for the Australian under 19 team for 2015. They certainly have my encouragement and support.

We came to lacrosse as a function of geography (we live in Williamstown which is one of the focal points of lacrosse in Victoria) and friends (a family friend Colleen Hunter  – nee McVeigh – is a former captain of Australia). I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a sport for their children to play. Sam Pang has been heard to describe netball as “basketball with all the good bits taken out”. Lacrosse is like hockey, but with a lot of good bits thrown in.

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.

Comments

  1. La X is a sport that interests me, bought to this country by a Canadian looking for gold during the rush in country Victoria.

    Just as you can follow trails of men leaving the Victorian diggings and taking Australian football with them to WA, SA and other parts of this country, and setting up football competitions, you can follow the trail of LA X from Vic to SA and WA.

    The same states that are strongest in football are also the same states that strongest in LA X, in fact NSW and QLD don’t have LA X leagues.

    Coincidence ? … i think not, obviously the immigration patterns from Victoria west are much stronger than the one North.

  2. Andrew Fithall says:

    Thanks Browny

    At world cup events there is usually a team from Haudenosaunee being the Iroquois, indigenous North Americans (US and Canada), and the founders of the original game on which modern lacrosse is based.

    AF

  3. Never played it at St Pats.

  4. Andrew Fithall says:

    And if they did I would ave been no good at it. Identify yourself Mick.

  5. Well done to the girls AF.

    I actually think netball is a far superior game to basketball!

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