The University of Portsmouth’s men’s lacrosse 1st team made a triumphant start to this seasons BUCS campaign by beating the University of Sussex 8-4.
The victory was the teams first win since the 3rd February when they beat Imperial College London at Langstone. Goals from Ashleigh Heitman made the result certain.
A team of relatively inexperienced players came away with a huge victory. With five first team players out injured, seven first years took to the field and impressed enough to secure victory.
Portsmouth started the first quarter positively with the majority of the possession inside the first few minutes. Heitman came close on the sixth minute but his shot was shanked wide.
At the restart, Sussex pulled themselves together and began attacking the home sides goal more viciously. A speedy counter attack released the oppositions striker who, with their first chance of the game, struck the post.
Moments later and against the run of play, Sussex took the lead. Their attacker ran parallel with the defenders and managed to cut in, finding the net with a quick flick of the stick.
Portsmouth didn’t allow their heads to drop at the restart and quickly began piling on the pressure. With the majority of the possession in their favour, it only took five minutes before the home side levelled the scores.
Heitman drew the scores by rushing around the back of the goal, finding a gap and netting. Tricky running from the number nine made it 1-1.
Portsmouth took their momentum into the second quarter and, seven minutes in, Heitman was back on the scoreboard.
“Seven freshers played their first ever game of lacrosse and showed great levels of fitness, skill and grit to help the team to our first win of the season”
Williams floated the ball to Heitman on the edge of the area, who trickily defended the ball with his stick from the defender who was challenging him. A quick dash round the side and he was in, making it 2-1 to Portsmouth.
Visibly buoyed on by his performance, the team rallied round Heitman and before long he brought up his hat trick. An impressive shot from outside the area found the net to make it 3-1 to Portsmouth.
Moments later Portsmouth really carved out an advantage as number 31 ran clear, finishing past the keeper to make it 4-1.
Heitman brought the quarter to an end when his shot was parried by the goalkeeper. At the halfway point Portsmouth were three goals to the good, impressive for a team which hadn’t won for eight months.
Sussex pulled themselves together for the start of the third quarter and made it 4-2. Their attacker impressively ran half the length of the pitch, saw a shot saved but the second attempt was put away.
Portsmouth didn’t spend time licking their wounds and put on an imperious show, scoring two goals in five minutes to make it 6-3 and burying Essex’s hopes.
“In the end we feel we had a team that wanted to win for each other and that’s what gave us the win”
Williams brought the quarter to a close when he hit the crossbar following an aggressive run into the box.
The woodwork wouldn’t deny Williams in the final quarter, though. Five minutes in, number seven pinged the ball to Williams in the middle of the box, who then coolly slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
Sussex eventually scored another goal for 7-4 following a huge period of Portsmouth dominance.
An opposition goal did nothing to dent the home sides focus and determination and, with three minutes from time, Portsmouth made it 8-4.
It would prove to be the last of the action and jubilant scenes at Langstone as the Portsmouth’s men’s lacrosse team secured victory.
Speaking after the result, free-scoring Ashleigh Heitman said: “The game was a great start to the season, even though we were missing five first team players. Seven freshers played their first ever game of lacrosse and showed great levels of fitness, skill and grit to help the team to our first win of the season.”
Commenting on the team’s chemistry, Heitman added: “In the end we feel we had a team that wanted to win for each other and that’s what gave us the win.”
The win puts Portsmouth 1st team in second place in the South Eastern 2A league. Brighton top the league on goal difference following a 14-4 victory against Chichester.