Season Preview – Women’s Hockey

The women’s firsts are hoping to shrug off last season’s disappointments and return to BUCS League 2B at the earliest opportunity

Photograph: George Lowther

Photograph: George Lowther

Ever feel that you have a point to prove? Ever feel that for all your red-faced determination, body-groaning courage and mind-numbing concentration, you’ve simply not received the rub of the green, the bounce of the ball, the sympathy of the official? It’s just not your year.

The women’s hockey firsts would probably empathise. Relegated unceremoniously from BUCS League 2B following a campaign which yielded only one victory and eight goals, their aim now is as straight and true as one of their fizzed penalty corners: to yo-yo back to where they belong, first time.

It’s a message UYHC Female President Sophie Hossack is keen to drum home: “I believe this year our firsts will improve and develop in this league and the young squad will be very willing to push themselves. Our firsts will feel they have something to prove.”

One definite positive to emerge from a largely heartbreaking 2008-2009 for the women’s side was a reliable nucleus of first year talent, who, having cut their teeth in difficult circumstances, are now expected to step up to the challenge and spearhead the promotion push. Hossack hopes that this time around it will be the names of Charlie Bartlett, Imy Eldergill-Storm and Laura Pepper that will be up in lights after stellar performances.

“[The trio] were all standout players last year as freshers. I think this year they will once again shine, not only as individuals but also in encouraging the team as a cohesive force,” she said.

Their importance to the side is only increased by the players lost over the close season. In contrast to their male counterparts, who can field a largely unchanged eleven, the women have bid farewell to some familiar faces, including Jaimie Unsworth, Marieke Hampshire, Lizzie Hollins, Laura Carter and Katie Wilson.

The President is unfazed, however; the graduations and years in industry downplayed as unavoidable inconveniences of the university sport experience. “With the loss of the majority of last year’s defence, hopefully it will encourage second team players to step up to the challenge and allow for the recruitment of another great group of freshers. We will keep our strong midfield and forward players, which will hopefully mean an intense and successful style of play.”

Captain Anna Smith, faithful to a theme running through the hockey club as a whole, will place the emphasis on high levels of fitness and, accordingly, has drafted in Billy Walsh, men’s Captain last year, in a coaching role. “The prospect of working with him [Walsh] is exciting, as I believe he will encourage and motivate both ladies’ teams to play their hardest,” said Hossack.

“A more serious attitude is developing amongst the girls: after a highly competitive Roses last year [the firsts drew 0-0 with Lancaster in a match more exciting than would first appear]- the belief that both teams can flourish and thrive this year is genuine and the girls are keen to put the hard work in to gain success.”

Echoing the sentiments of Male President Rob Newton, Hossack believes there exists a strong togetherness between all five teams within the hockey club – notably a working relationship with the men’s teams through mixed training sessions, which she believes can only enhance the girls’ games. “We have an impressively cohesive club and the support from both sides is going to be extremely beneficial this season during the tough matches.”

This spirit has also permeated to the second team, who have locked their sights on plotting an escape from BUCS League 6B. Oh, and the small matter of a local derby with York St. John, who have set themselves similarly lofty aspirations, at the beginning of December.

The seconds will be led by Milly Williams and Kate Dewar, joint captains, and boosted by Emily Scott’s decision to free herself from the York Sport Presidential desk at least once a week to lend her vast hockey-playing experience.

In line with the club philosophy, Williams believes her team “should all push to a high standard” with Dewar aiming to “step up the fitness levels for the whole season, making a serious routine imperative.”

These fitness levels will be necessary, with the seconds juggling fixtures in BUCS competition with involvement in the Yorkshire League at weekends.

The overall impression given is of a club pulling in the same upward direction, and who knows what they could achieve. “As with the boys, getting off to a strong attacking start to the season is vital for both teams,” said Hossack.

“Gaining, and then maintaining and working on, momentum is going to prove invaluable to the women this year. The club has got a great and stable core, and this year I am adamant that we will develop and utilise this. Sensible, serious and positive play will be the undercurrent of both teams in both the BUCS and the Yorkshire Leagues.”

The University of York Hockey Club will be holding freshers’ trials on the following dates on the JLD Astroturf (adjacent to the Sports Centre):

Monday 12th October: 15.00-16.00
Thursday 15th October: 12.00-13.00
Sunday 18th October: 15.00-16.00

BUCS LEAGUE AND CUP FIXTURES – WOMEN’S FIRSTS

Wednesday 21st October – Leeds University Thirds (H)
Wednesday 28th October – Hull University Seconds (H) BUCS Cup
Wednesday 4th November – Durham University Thirds (A)
Wednesday 11th November – Newcastle University Thirds (H)
Wednesday 25th November – Northumbria University Seconds (H)
Wednesday 2nd December – Sheffield University Seconds (H)
Wednesday 9th December – Sheffield University Seconds (A)
Wednesday 3rd February – Leeds University Thirds (A)
Wednesday 17th February – Durham University Thirds (H)
Wednesday 3rd March – Newcastle University Thirds (A)
Wednesday 17th March – Northumbria University Seconds (A)

BUCS LEAGUE AND CUP FIXTURES – WOMEN’S SECONDS

Wednesday 21st October – Leeds Met Carnegie Fourths (A)
Wednesday 28th October – Sunderland University Seconds (H) BUCS Cup
Wednesday 4th November – Bradford University Firsts (H)
Wednesday 11th November – Sunderland University Seconds (A)
Wednesday 25th November – Hull University Seconds (A)
Wednesday 2nd December – York St. John Seconds (H)
Wednesday 3rd February – Sheffield Hallam University Thirds (A)
Wednesday 17th February – Sheffield University Fourths (H)

For more information on the Hockey Club, visit https://sites.google.com/a/yusu.org/hockey/Home

If your club would like a season preview, contact [email protected]

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