Lacrosse team;

The fastest game on two feet in the Grand Duchy has has relaunched its men’s national team, now in the Olympic format of six-a-side; the small field version is a very fast version of the game, where speed and playing skill come at an even higher premium than in other versions of the sport. 

The team competed at the EuroLacrosse tournament in Vila Real de Santo António, Portugal against 11 other European teams from Europe and Brazil. 

The pandemic had a significant impact on the sport. Two cancelled European Championships later and the men’s national had to be relaunched. The Luxembourgish was composed of old, with some of most experienced now on the sidelines, but now were supported by a number of players from the 2020 national team rosters and from the Luxembourg summer tour team. Unavailability in the goal tender position resulted in the group relying on the services of a volunteer from Team Brazil, Wesley Miller. Team manager Nirav Haria also competed in several games.  

The tournament fielded four groups of three teams, leaving Luxembourg to face the obvious favourite and eventual champion Team Great Britain as well as semi-finalist Turkey. Two games and losses later, the group had found more of its identity with a clearly defined defensive approach and more offensive flow. The inconsistencies any new team shows struck here also – for segments the team competed to then lose momentum and/or focus and concede several goals. Head coach Schmidt clarified: “This new Olympic format is very fast, very unforgiving. A small mistake in field may well not cause a goal, here the margin of error is negligible. And we faced teams with much more experience, which did not help.”

In the qualifying after group stages, the team fancied its chances and ran into a wall of effective Lacrosse from team Switzerland who finished five of their first six shots. The team tried to push back, at times with more haste than speediness, resulting in more turn-overs and a widening loss margin. ‘Arguably the best lesson was in the Switzerland game, they are incredibly effective’ commented Schmidt. 

Losing to the Swiss pitted the team against one of the two Dutch teams, where an improved performance paired with increasing fatigue would not prove enough. Undeterred from four losses and grateful finally compete, the team prepared for the final game on Sunday against 2023 last ranked Ireland who had improved.

The team thus ended the tournament like any other new small nation joining the tournament in the last two years, taking last place. The performance of neighbouring Belgium, improving each year from rank twelve in 2021 to rank ten in 2023 serves as inspiration.

Luxembourg Lacrosse President Pit Bingen offered a closing comment: “We all left Portugal with positive spirit”. The team embarks to its next competition in Ghent, Belgium from 31 May to 2 June 2024. 

The team’s coaches confirmed that they are now looking to recruit more players and expand the team roster. Lacrosse’s recent addition to the Olympics will add to the visibility of this ancient if small sport – coach Schmidt’s invite to new players: “You are very very welcome to join – no equipment needed, just a smile and trying”. 

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