JAMES 2 – 2 HALIFAX
(James win 3 – 2 on penalties)
College Varsity qualifiers
In front of a mass of James supporters, it was always going to be a tough match for their counterparts Halifax in the opening hockey semi-final on the JLD. Despite an early mistake from the James defence, a fluffed shot from Jamie Emerson ensured that Halifax did not score first. Following this, James started strongly; with some key UYHC members dominating the middle of the pitch. Notably Chris Butterworth connected with Briony Peters beautifully, reading each others’ movements with perfection. Elizabeth Furber, goalkeeper for Halifax was forced to make some great early saves as shots came in thick and fast.
However, it was not all one way and Halifax put pressure on their opponents; with some fantastic interlinking play from Emmerson and Hermione Warmington. Their attacks, however, were not enough as it was not long before Nick Mitchell scored the first of his two goals.
A smooth passage of play between the mercurial James Hope through the midfield to Guy Holden fed the ball to Mitchell, who slotted it past Furber to break the goal deadlock.
The James onslaught continued, with Butterworth and Tyler having chances but Furber and her defence, in particular Laura Atkinson, proving once again why they are valued UYHC members. Halifax dug their heels into the ground and continued to fight, with Cameron Sanders almost equalizing. Mitchell, within moments of coming back onto the pitch, scored his second goal of the match just before the half time whistle was blown after being set up by Tim Sylcock and Emily Arter.
The second half was a different story as Halifax started to fight back. After Alex Francis came close to pulling a goal back, the relentless work rate from Sam Mackinnon in the middle of the park finally came to fruition as Emerson scored a somewhat scrappy goal after the ball hit both posts and rolled over the line.As James attempted to hold onto their lead, Halifax kept fighting and it was not before long that Warmington smashed in an equalizer from a short corner.
The umpires reduced James down to ten men for the final ten minutes but neither side could find a winner and it went down to penalties to decide the score. Goals from Emerson and Sanders were unfortunately not enough to keep James from victory in the shootout. Chris Butterworth, Katherine Bramwell and Declan Hall all scored their penalties and, combined with the three misses from Halifax, left triumph in James’ hands.