The Eltham Lacrosse Club under 13 boys team hadn’t lost a game all season, and had no intention of changing that trend in the Grand Final on Saturday.
After Surrey Park scored a quick opening goal of the game, it was clear there were grand final nerves, but luckily for the Panthers they were more in the crowd then with the players themselves. They settled down quickly and resumed the game plan under the guidance of coach Jai Arambatsis. The frantic opening minutes gave way to some good strong possession by the Eltham team, and it was the last time the Parkers would hold the lead, as Eltham scored twice in the opening frame to hold a one goal lead before Surrey equalized with a late goal of their own.
The second quarter saw Eltham with the majority of possession, and were unlucky to not find the back of the goal more often, however the Surrey Park goalie made big saves and came out aggressively to challenge the shooters. Ethan Sprakel, Connor Ellis and Brayden Parker continued to keep up the running intensity and pressure on the Surrey team, allowing the bigger Eltham attackers to step up. Marcus Arambatsis took advantage of his teams hard work, scoring his second and third goals of the day, while Mitchell Wadsworth scored his second to give the black and gold a 5-3 lead at the long break.
The dominance of possession continued in the third, and it looked like Eltham would blow the game out when Wadswoth scored his 3rd and Marcus Bottrell his first, but Surrey would not lie down. Against the run of play they scored 2 goals of their own to keep in touch, and their Grand Final dreams alive. The frantic pace meant substitutions happened quickly, but with some difficulty as there was never a lull in play for the coaches to really work their benches. Turin Zobel, Archie McIntyre and William McBeath all played their roles for the team as the rotations continued, before the end of the third quarter say Eltham still holding a slender 2 goal lead.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair as both teams pushed hard into offense searching for goals. However both defences and goalies made strong saves to keep the shooters frustrated and tensions high. Brodie Hoyle held his nerve in goals, while he was supported by strong defense from Cooper Giann, Finn Clayton and Connor Warnock.
It was only a matter of time before one team must give way, and when Will McIntosh and Toby Templeton scored their first goals of the game, it was all but over. Time ran out for Surrey as they scored one final goal, but it wasn’t enough as Eltham headed towards their 16th and final win.
The captain and star of the Eltham team, Ethan Buchanan, was a workhorse across the ground all day. From winning the face-offs, to solid defense and fast-break transition down the field, he did it all. Although this could be misconstrued as selfish play, nothing highlights his team-first attitude as well as the five assists he gave to his scoring teammates. Although he didn’t find the back of the net himself, he was clearly best on ground for the premiers as the closed out their perfect season with a 9-6 win.
The win was a great start to the day for Eltham, who hosted the whole round of finals at Eltham Lower Park on behalf of Lacrosse Victoria. It drew large crowds for the 7 games, including state MP Vicki Ward, and Federal MP Jenny Macklin who are both long-time supporters of the Eltham Lacrosse Club.