Today was the day. Jefferson’s first match for Bristol University Men’s Lacrosse team. He was excited. He was nervous. He was going to run fast. He was going to run past midfielders cradling one handed. He was going to let the shot rip. He was going to score some goals. He was right.

Jefferson played exceptionally in this match, justifying his place on the team. He had pace like no other on the pitch and his teammates knew this. He had scored 19 and assisted 3 goals and Bristol had successfully beaten Cardiff Met 22 – 1. He was elated and loved his newfound teammates and friends. He couldn’t imagine ever playing without them. They would be allies for life, on and off the lacrosse field. He would invite them to his birthday party every year. He would invite them up to the Midlands to his stomping ground, where they would all enjoy ludicrously cheap pints in a location much less edgy than Briz. He cemented his friendship with the team by bonding over numerous VKs in Motion that night. He had found his purpose in life.

Every night Jeff would dream fondly of his times at Bristol Lacrosse Club – his first GB, his first goal, his first dodge, the first time he learned to cradle 1 handed. But the night of the 14th November 2017 was different. His sleep was disturbed. Jefferson tossed and turned with anxiety. In a mere matter of hours, he would be playing against his old comrades. His allegiance had shifted. His heart was torn. Bristol were aiming for a BUCS South Prem win, but he knew he had to put in his all for the Dark Blues and try to foil Bristol’s chances at winning. To lift his spirits and relieve his anxiety, Jeff listened to The Lonely Island as he cycled down to Iffley to meet the rest of the Oxford team. They couldn’t know about his internal dilemma and turmoil.

The boys assembled at a rather packed Iffley car park and Mr Montgomery arrived in the minibus displaying expert driving skill, atoning for his previous wing mirror incident. Iffley car park was rammed. A flock of middle class, middle aged men and their Range Rovers and/or Mercs complete with chauffeurs had turned up to watch the ruggers. After successfully navigating their way out of Iffley and being wished good luck by a pleasant car park attendant, the boys were on their way to the West Country and the team engaged in their standard journey activities. Gabe Barrie rapidly went into his REM cycle, Theo & Bith discussed IG post captions and Cob struggled to think of words to articulate himself. As Mr Montgomery was driving today, he could not engage in his usual bus Tinder/Bumble pastimes. However, he did not mind as the long drive reminded him of driving back to Scotland, something Mr Montgomery was incredibly excited for having spent the past 387 days in Oxford without his beloved dog.

The team arrived at Bristol. To reassure his new teammates that he was dedicated to the Dark Blues, Jeff tried to get them into the nice changing rooms, but failed, so the team had to make do with the corridor shared with the Bristol team. Given the choice of the Bristol team’s music, the boys couldn’t help but feel like they were in Cellar with the lights on. This confused Mr Montgomery, who only ever ventured into Park End on Wednesdays. Once changed, the boys began warming up off the pitch (apparently booting women’s football off the pitch mid game to warm up isn’t the done thing). Once the pitch was clear of sportswomen and rugby posts, the boys continued warming up. What was clear immediately to the boys, apart from how nice the sports facilities were, was that the pitch was big and that there was a lot of lines. Lots and lots of lines in lots of different colours. Thomas Carver would have no clue where the restrainer or halfway line was.

After running their revamped warm up, the match began. Faceoff. The author is unsure which is more derogatory to OULC fresher Ryan Power: his faceoff winning percentage of the Bristol match or the sconces that emerged on Wednesday night in Arzoo. (to be clear, Ryan’s FO winning % was in the single digits, winning only when Bristol swapped out their usual faceoff man). Despite Bristol winning early possession, the Oxford defence held strong – they knew the Bristol team were exceptionally well drilled and they’d have to keep switched on the entire time. Led by Cameron Montgomery & Alistair Berven, the defence contained the threat of Bristol’s outside shooters, sliding and holding with perfect precision. James Kershaw and Ciaran “my hip’s gone” Gilbride worked well with the other 2 poles. Tom Munro made an impressive debut for the Blues, keeping at bay player’s with years more experience than him. After a Bristol penalty, Oxford were man up. A feed from Gabe Barrie to Cob Ronway on the crease resulted in Oxford scoring the first goal 12 minutes into the game. Oxford were in the lead. Jefferson was ecstatic and tried to contain his excitement. If he could upset Bristol on their home turf, it would be a great achievement. Unfortunately for the Dark Blues, some man down situations resulted in shots from Bristol that Charlie Wall was unable to save. The quarter ended 2-1 to Bristol.

After a 2 minute chalk talk with “Princeton”, the boys knew how they were going to contain the Bristol threats. Good midfield defence from Theo Hayes and Bith, combined with wise hold and fire calls meant that although Bristol had much more possession, they were unable to get shots off. In attack, despite being rather cold at times, Oxford held the ball well, getting some good looks. A dodge and shot from Gabe Barrie resulted in another Oxford goal. NOEA. The defensive unit also held strong this quarter, conceding only 2 goals. Aggression in attack from Jake “where did you get your pads” Veliky didn’t go unnoticed in attack, especially during clears. The 3 attackmen worked hard to force turnovers: sometimes this worked well, other times not so well. A particular example that comes to mind was Cob playing a whole 60 kilos of “play to body” against a Bristol pole who was clearing the ball. It’s safe to say the Bristol defenceman had slightly more momentum, which Cob realised promptly as he glided through the air before crashing down onto the rubber crumb 3G. It wouldn’t be a lacrosse match if Cob wasn’t put on his ass at some point…

After half time, the boys lost some of their defensive focus, and unfortunately Bristol capitalised on this short spell of weakness. Slides didn’t come efficiently and some man down situations due to offsides and being unable to remember which lines on the pitch dictated the men’s lacrosse pitch. Jefferson was devastated at conceding these goals to his ex-teammates. In the fourth quarter the Dark Blues came back fighting with much of the intensity seen in the first half, meaning Bristol only scored an extra 1, however the damage had been done during the third quarter.

After 80 minutes of play, the final score stood at Bristol 10, Oxford 3. Jeff was disappointed he hadn’t manage to cause upset to Bristol, but the Dark Blues had, mostly, had a very positive game and played incredibly well against a very strong opposition.

Bristol 10 – 3 Oxford

Gabe (2, 1)
Cob (1, 1)

MotM: Berven
DotD: Cob for impressive aerial feats, tripping up his own teammate and potentially managing to break his thumb by body checking a Bristol LSM

Men's Blues - Wednesday 15th November 2017 - BUCS South Prem - Bristol Away