The Men’s Lacrosse team had a hot and cold first term. Early season got off to a great start.
This year brought new faces to the program, most having played in high school, and most from the United States. With impact freshmen like Freddie Hall and Xandy Walsh, and a strong core of veterans, preseason showed promise.
The first game against the Granite City Gladiators, a club team out of Aberdeen, proved Saints had more than the usual talent to push other Scottish teams into the ground.
Playing in a second, elite league – the British Universities & College Sports (BUCS) Northern Premier, the team was pushed against stronger opponents. Yet, in the first BUCS fixture against Manchester, Saints came together for one of the more stellar showings in recent memory.
Rough estimates put the crowd around twenty, making it at least a record-equalling attendance at the St Andrews home field. Not only that, but Saints’ bench was deep, filled with almost every player on the roster (which sadly also became an attendance record).
St Andrews played solid lacrosse that game, and were able to put up a nice cushioned lead going into the half, which was shockingly sliced in the second half with a three-goal spurt by Manchester.
The defence regrouped, and in an unprecedented move, turned and stopped the regress, and held the lead down the clock. It was a satisfying win on a sunny day.
But problems began to show during the team’s second BUCS match, against perennial powerhouse and consecutive BUCS champions Durham. There were a disturbing number of half-baked excuses and bails from the player ranks, leaving a depleted Saints squad to journey down to England, with only enough men to field a team and have two catch their breath on the bench.
Though Saints got crushed on the scoreboard, 1-23, they didn’t play bad lacrosse – just undisciplined, uninspired, and intimidated. But blame can’t be pinned on those who at least made the trip; Saints lost because of much deeper failures.
Somehow, somewhere in the early season the team mantra became ‘do less’, which was taken to extreme limits by these Saints, and seriously jeopardised any formal team spirit that had existed.
The upperclassmen inherited leadership roles without realising their responsibility, and consequently what started as a promising season turned out to be based on sand and fell apart quickly, once the weather got cold and the bus rides long.
The leaders – President, Captain, Secretary, Co-Captains – held an early evening requiredmeeting for anyone wishing to stay with the program, stressing that this was a make-or-break moment for the club.
Following the meeting, there was a rowdy social and a series of high-intensity practices. But when only nine players showed to make the journey to the next BUCS game, away versus Sheffield Hallam, the team was deep and dead.
But the final spike in Saints’ grave? Rallying a despondent team together at the crack of dawn (before noon) and driving two vans to play the Glasgow Lions in Edinburgh… without directions.
The team got lost and couldn’t follow smartphone apps, arriving an hour and a half late, driving around Edinburgh itself for the majority of the time, only to turn around and go home.
The compounded damage: over £1,100 of debt in fines, to the AU and Lacrosse Scotland league, covering the lost bus, hotel trip and penalties from a humiliating decision to drop out of the BUCS league.
Though Men’s Lacrosse was one of only two teams elite enough to compete in the BUCS league, a high mark for the University and Athletic Union, the lack of commitment this season means it will be at least two years before the team can work its way back in.
There have been some big changes: team management has been reshuffled, in accords with probation terms and with help from the Athletic Union.
But since exams came on and Scottish league games ran out before intersemester, it has now been over two months since the team met as a group.
There are still games scheduled and practices to be had and history to be rewritten in Semester Two, big dreams to keep a ghost club real. Stay tuned, for whatever comes next.
This article was written by the Men’s Lacrosse Vice-President.