The Thrilla in Manila. Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor 3. Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward III. Lebron vs. the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals. Some of the most exciting sporting events are trilogies in which the opponents have been closely matched in their previous encounters, and with the anticipation building, the Oxbridge Allstars were hoping to put this series with the Israel Premier Lacrosse League Allstars (IPLL) up there as one of the great rubbermatches of all time.
Although Oxbridge found itself with only two subs, their love for the game dominated over any considerations of fatigue. Consequently, the day started with negotiations (led by Peter Scott) with the IPLL about playing a full game for the championship, instead of two 20 minute quarters (as the round robin games had been). Although the negotiations ultimately failed, the huge heart of the Allstars, and their eagerness to just play as much lacrosse as possible and to “grow the game” (at a pace at least as rapid as LeBron’s hairline from the ’15-‘16 season), was revealed by their passion and determination to just lax.
The championship match got off to a promising start as middie Ed Smith drew a slide and fed Matt Johnson on the crease for an early goal in the opening minutes. Unfortunately, IPLL then controlled the pace of the game for the following 38 minutes, with long possessions and the majority of the possession time. Oxbridge had a few good looks throughout the game that could have turned the momentum in their favor, with Pete Baddoo hitting a pipe toward the end of the first half, and attackman Tom Caniels creating some other good opportunities. Kav and Will had some big ground balls and clears, and midfielder Gabe Barrie continued the pace that had earned him the previous day’s man of the match honors, fighting for each faceoff. Midfielders Krin, Ed, and Seb played some critical defense, getting the better of their offensive midfield matchups, and making some critical plays on Oxbridge’s man down squad. Tim and Erwin continued to dominate their matchups, with a couple of strips each, and some crucial slides and heads up D, which saved Oxbridge during the occasional defensive breakdown. Peter Scott continued to eat up shots outside of 10 yards, and make pinpoint passes. Despite a performance full of heart and passion for the game, the Allstars simply weren’t able to control enough of the possession time to put themselves back in the game, and the Gentle Gentiles fell to the Israeli team 5-1.
In all, an impressive and memorable performance over the four days was put in by the Oxbridge Allstars. Despite the small numbers, the grueling tournament schedule in the Hungarian heat, and the hitting of the town nearly every night of the tour, the Allstars came together as a tight-knit team and played with everything they had all four days of the tournament, holding nothing back. Defensively, the Allstars were nearly impregnable, and dominant in settled play, with the vast majority of the goals coming in transition. Offensively, the Allstars quickly adapted to their teammates’ playing styles, and were able to create lots of opportunities. The team chemistry on and off the field bodes well for future tournaments, as the Allstars seek to reunite in one year’s time for more growing the game. Who will the next opponent be? Where in the world will the Allstars be? Why do British people call eggplants “aubergines,” and why was Peter Scott made to carry one around? Who is this mysterious girlfriend of Ed Smith’s, and does she really exist? Why does Matt Johnson spend so much time facedown on the ground during games? How far will Kav push the boundaries of fashion in the name of “edginess”? All these questions and more will be answered in one year’s time with the return of the Oxbridge Allstars. Stay tuned.
Highlight video of the Oxbridge Allstars by Erwin Lijklema
Player of the tournament: Matt Johnson
Goals, Gainz, Glory: Had in Abundance
White Flags: Unraised
Team Status: “In love, and always will be”