Hockey Firsts cruise into quarter-finals

Wednesday’s 2-0 win over local rivals St. John bodes well both for Varsity next month and the firsts’ chances of silverware this season

Photograph by George Lowther

Photograph by George Lowther

UNIVERSITY OF YORK FIRSTS 2
YORK ST JOHN FIRSTS 0

BUCS Cup Third Round – Wednesday 27th January

In a match that will not live long in anyone’s memory, the women’s firsts progressed serenely into the quarter-finals of the BUCS Cup. Goals at the start of each half from Frankie Hall and Rachael Faustino were enough to overcome the weak challenge of cross-city rivals St. John, providing a great portent for Varsity in a month’s time, but, more significantly, keeping alive the team’s hopes of silverware.

St. John, despite playing one division higher, were stunned by Hall’s second minute goal and they never really recovered, enjoying about ten minutes of sustained pressure in the rest of the game and, even during that, found York goalkeeper Beanie Usher in uncompromising mood. Roaring out of the blocks, the home side pressed through Hannah Gage down the right, her tempting low delivery across the danger zone leaving Hall with the simplest of finishes at the near post.

They settled matters through Faustino in the early stages of the second-half, killing off the expected St. John resurgence. Laura Pepper’s effort was directed wide, but Faustino read its trajectory, controlled and hammered the ball past the goalkeeper and the defensive cover on the goalline. The umpire needed a moment’s contemplation, but adjudged that the ball had indeed crossed the line and York were sailing into the next round.

Women's Hockey, 27.01.2010, Photo: George Lowther

Anna Smith, the York Captain, looks for a teammate during Wednesday’s 2-0 win. The two sides will meet again on the Sunday of Varsity in a month’s time. Photograph by George Lowther.

Today’s result preserved the team’s unbeaten record in BUCS competition this season, as they seek to yo-yo back into League 2B at the first opportunity. Earlier rounds had seen comfortable wins against Hull University seconds (16-0) and Durham University fourths (3-1), but today proved that opposition of supposedly higher status hold no fear for the side. Two wins and four draws in League 3B have also left them well-placed for a late assault on promotion, with next week’s trip to Leeds set to be vital. They might have to book a return ticket to Leeds in the last eight of the knock-out competition as well, with Sheffield the other potential destination.

Other than those two moments, this one never really emerged from a slumber. St. John threatened occasionally, but half-heartedly, with Usher saving well three times in the first-half with an outstretched left foot to safeguard the lead. The second instance was most worrying, when a two-on-one situation left Charlie Bartlett exposed, but the ‘keeper, who seems to grow in stature with every match, was equal to the danger.

If anything, it was the home side who could have made the scoreline more comprehensive after the break. Faustino, having gained her place on the scoresheet, forced a save at the near post before the same player, who was lively throughout, scuffed a golden opportunity after her pressure had forced a mistake. St. John, visibly demoralised by the second goal, never looked like getting back into the game and can now concentrate on arresting their slide towards relegation in the league. York, however, go marching on.

Women's Hockey, 27.01.2010, Photo: George Lowther

York await their quarter-final opponents at the time of writing, though Leeds Met seconds, Cumbria firsts and Manchester seconds also progressed today. Photograph by George Lowther.

York Line-up: GK. Beanie Usher, 3. Anna Smith (c), 2. Emily Lucas, 5. Rachael McMillan, 7. Charlie Bartlett, 13. Imy Eldergill-Storm, 12. Hannah Gage, 9. Laura Pepper, 99. Frankie Hall, 11. Andrea Pisesky, 21. Rachael Faustino
Replacements: Karen Wallace, Bella Slator

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