An electric atmosphere surrounded the pitch yesterday as the women’s lacrosse team warmed up for their semi-final cup game against Exeter. Birmingham have shown a strong performance throughout all the preliminary games, last week defeating Cambridge 10-8.
Birmingham demonstrated their determination for this win straight of the mark by being first to put a point on the bored with very calm and precise play. Spurred on by this early lead, the second goal was again for Birmingham taken from a foul, no pressure, great set up back of the net advancing their lead increasing the pressure for Exeter to play catch up. UoB continued this pressure on the Exeter forwards with their defence pushing them out, leading them to circle the goal unable to score showing a clear understanding and outwitting of Exeter’s strategy. A great interception from the Lionesses carried the ball up the pitch finishing with a foul from Exeter and another goal for Birmingham making it 3-0 with Exeter starting to show their concerns by calling a time-out to regroup.
Whatever Exeter’s coach said during that break lit a fire within the players who took control of the game with their player 2 running nearly the full length of the pitch with the ball weaving through every defender thrown at her scoring straight passed the keeper. They didn’t stop there; less than a minute later they added another point to their score taking Birmingham’s defence completely by surprise. Closing the gap with the scoreboard at 3-2 Exeter were clearly adamant on applying the pressure on Birmingham. However, the Lionesses were undeterred. Showing immense clinical skill, a great cross from the far right allowed Birmingham to score followed shortly by yet another goal for the Lionesses after another accurate pass into the middle of the pitch to finish. Only moments before the half time whistle, in quick succession towards Birmingham’s goal, Exeter scored surpassing the defence straight down the middle and through the keeper’s arms leaving the score at half time at 5-3 to Birmingham.
Less than 10 seconds after the start of the second half, UoB made an amazing run down the centre of the pitch and number 24 scored after a tip off straight into the bottom right hand corner. The Lionesses were coming out fighting there was no chance of easing up. Sadly, a silly fumble from Birmingham meant Exeter took the chance to take the ball up the pitch which resulted in them scoring.
The whole game had been a constant cat and mouse chase: Birmingham ahead and Exeter hot on their heels. The Lionesses showed strong tactics within their midfield players with great positioning and movement to get their next goal leaving the score 7-4. Exeter then suddenly made 3 great runs and despite a well fought defence by Birmingham, it wasn’t enough. An equal score and the heightening tension from the spectators led to UoB calling a time-out to regroup, assess, and regain their lead.
Birmingham were determined to not let this lapse in focus lose them the game, but Exeter’s players ganged up on Birmingham’s number 78 leading to a penalty: the first marginally wide but the second show meant another goal for Birmingham to reassert their dominance. The reaction from the crowd was ecstatic. The dirty play from Exeter’s defence was beginning to show through leading to yet another penalty allowing Birmingham to further their lead to 9-7. UoB’s goalkeeper made some spectacular saves frustrating the Exeter attacks by always positioning herself well and using her defence to keep them out and it was a long period of UoB possession before Exeter were able to get another goal from a penalty. Birmingham were determined to keep their small lead for the last moments of the game and they made a great play up the pitch with precise positioning, accurate passes and a lovely finish put the ball right into the back of the net just in time for the final whistle leaving the score 10-8, again, to Birmingham and allowing them to advance onto the finals. Amazing play from the girls throughout a very good game to watch and a well-deserved win.