The Wales Men’s Lacrosse team headed out to Wroclaw in Poland at the beginning of April to play in the European World Championship Qualifying Tournament.
The Team was perhaps the best prepared that I have been associated with. Everything from the player’s physical fitness, mental fitness and Lacrosse know how had been carefully planned to reach a peak for this tournament.
Prior to the tournament a lot of effort had been put into players being physically fit, which is expected for major tournaments though we differed this time in taking on a sports psychologist to help mentally prepare the team for the tournament.
As a result, we not only had a squad of fit, well drilled players but we had a squad of quietly confident, self-assured athletes ready to take on all comers for this event.
Our tournament began with a very convincing 19 – 2 win over an enthusiastic Turkish side. The manner of our win allowed the team to settle into “Tournament” Lacrosse and to practice their attacking moves.
Second up was a very determined and well drilled Spanish team. The Team failed to capitalise on the amount of possession they had and were 4 – 2 ahead at halftime. A good 3 -0 third quarter saw the Welsh pull away and finally end up winners by a 10 – 4 margin.
The next two games were, prior to the tournament, considered to be our hardest games. Scheduling also made these games difficult with the Latvia game the last one of the day, and the Slovakia the first game the following morning, so minimum recovery time for the players.
Latvia first. We somehow play Latvia every tournament!! The last two games had been 1 goal games so this was always going to be a tough one. The resolve and mindset of the players turned up a gear and got off to a great start winning the first quarter 3 – 0. Latvia came back strongly but could only draw the second quarter 1-1. Wales stepped up a gear and scored 3 goals in each of the next 2 quarters with the Latvians only managing 2 in the final quarter so a convincing 10 – 3 win was recorded.
Tired legs and weary minds turned up against a better rested Slovakia team. In a dour game the Welsh team were unable to produce the good, fluent lacrosse of the previous evening. A reluctance to shoot meant the game was always closer than it should have been though a victory was never in doubt. The 6 -2 victory was followed by a much needed rest day!!
As result of the victory against Slovakia Wales became the first country to qualify from this European Qualification Tournament for the World Championships in San Diego in June 2023.
The final game against Denmark saw normal service resumed. The good Lacrosse meant the Wales team were 8-2 up at half time and a final score of 14 -4 which satisfied our pre-tournament wishes for an unbeaten record.
The attacking players scored 42 of our 59 goals which is testament to how well they worked as a unit. The midfielders need to step up to the plate so we as a unit can reach the next level.
The defence conceded 15 goals which is an excellent return for all the effort they put in.
Whilst the players will rightly take the plaudits for their exploits on the pitch a great deal is owed to the off-field staff.
The squad were reduced to 2 coaches, Chris Summers and James Perrin supported by the S & C coach, Stuart Britton, and Sports Psychologist, Nat Hatch- Johnson, who between them made sure that the whole Welsh juggernaut kept rolling to the end of a successful tournament. The team manager Jacqui Hicks made sure we were all well looked after and that everything ran smoothly and that the players and staff wanted for nothing.
Now the tournament is a distant memory we have not rested on our laurels but have dissected everything we did for the tournament and during it and are looking to improve on what we did and what we achieved last time. So onwards and upwards!!
Head Coach Nick Hewitt