Mixed results for hockey firsts in pre-season friendlies against York St John

Photo credit: Jake Farrell. The University of York Hockey Club's new president, Rachael Faustino, battles for possession in her side's 4-0 victory over York St John last Wednesday. The men lost 3-1.

Photo credit: Jake Farrell. The University of York Hockey Club's new president, Rachael Faustino, battles for possession in her side's 4-0 victory over York St John last Wednesday. The men lost 3-1.

The new season for the hockey club kicked off last week with two friendlies against inter-city rivals York St John. The men’s firsts fell to a 3-1 defeat but the women’s firsts romped home to a 4-0 win.

With important players leaving for both sides the matches were an opportunity for players to stake a claim for a place in the side, and they gave the new captains a chance to run the rule over their squads for the upcoming season.

The men’s side were up first, playing against a St John side that returned to University two weeks before and the visitors’ extra sharpness was evident, starting much the stronger of the two sides and keeping goalkeeper Sam Harriman busy.

The hosts were guilty of playing themselves into trouble on a few occasions in the first half, and as the away side pushed forward, another attack was thwarted only by a great tackle by Harry Bercis.

The main man for York in the first half was Harriman, who made a number of fine saves to keep the scores locked at 0-0.

York did begin to get into the match more but their rustiness was evident throughout and it was no surprise when Ben Bull put St John ahead; some good work from Rob Chamberlain earned him some room and his attempt was deflected in by the well-placed Bull. Chamberlain himself then doubled his side’s lead, tapping in after another Harriman save.

New captain Henry Meller, who found himself in the role of Umpire in the first half, was instrumental in York’s reply. Taking the ball on the left he found a superb pass, the ball finding its way to James Wilson who reduced arrears. It wasn’t to be York’s day however as St John scored a third in the closing minutes, Dom Firth making it 3-1 at the final whistle.

Captain Meller wasn’t too down, despite the scoreline: “It was what I expected. It’s the first competitive game we’ve had, we’ve come back quite late and only just started training. There were only three of four first teamers on display, their superior fitness told and, credit to them, they deserved the win.”

There was much better news for the women’s firsts, however, as they cruised to a 4-0 win. Obviously the better side right from the off, they made their dominance pay and the win would have put them in good stead for the season ahead.

Hannah Gage, who with Sally Warrington, takes over from Charlie Bartlett as the team’s captain opened the scoring to make it 1-0. With the experienced Imy Eldergill-Storm and Emily Lucas still pulling the strings it looks like it could be a very promising season for York’s women, and it was Eldergill-Storm who threatened next, hitting the bar from the edge of the D. Jill Mercer made it 2-0 before half-time and Eldergill-Storm added a third. With time running out Mercer doubled her tally to leave the final score 4-0.

Gage was suitably impressed with her side’s performance: “I’m very happy with the result. It’s a really positive start but we’ve still got lots to work on for the season.”

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