Women’s water polo thrash Roses rivals to claim the cup

On Wednesday afternoon, York women’s water polo team played Lancaster in the BUCS Northern Conference Cup final, thrashing our Roses rivals 19-1

BUCS Northern Conference Cup final

Image: Lily Grant

Image: Lily Grant

On Wednesday afternoon, York women’s water polo team played Lancaster in the Northern Conference Cup BUCS final. With their unbeaten position at the top of the league and +45 goal difference, York were the favourites going into the match and they did not disappoint. In what emerged as a rather one-sided game, York came out victorious and showed Lancaster what they should expect when York represent the White Rose in Lancaster this May.

After a slightly hesitant start, spurred on by the home-crowd, Louise Highton got the first goal for the York Ladies’ team. Both teams left nerves behind and, to begin with, both teams seemed similarly matched; no player was left unmarked. But York stepped-up, communicated well, and played the ball successfully around the arc to utilize every member of the team. Highton soon added two more goals to the York score sheet.

After the first quarter ending 3-0, Lancaster lost composure, resulting in an exclusion for their team and a penalty awarded to York. Beth Richards did not disappoint in putting a powerful shot past the Lancaster goalkeeper. Attacks by Lancaster were well fought off and Highton was able to add two more goals to her hat-trick. Lancaster fought back and were awarded a penalty which, fortunately for York, was saved by goalkeeper Yasmeen Jhons leaving the score 7-0 at the end of the second quarter.

Lancaster won the ball from the swim-off at the start of the third quarter; however, their attack was promptly halted after the obvious sinking of Highton . A strong pass in to Richards quickly reversed this into an opportunity for York to score. Some strong defence from Lancaster prevented a goal and play moved back up towards the York goal, but the ball was quickly picked up by the York goalie with a long pass to captain Hannah Carter who swam the ball up the wing. The ball was worked in and out of the pit and, following a Lancaster player being sent out, Richards was able to get a powerful shot into the top right corner.

The team before their big match. Image: UYSWC

The team before their big match. Image: UYSWC

After starting with the ball, Lancaster had an attempt to score, but the ball was put over the bar. York ‘keeper Jhons passed down to Gillian Jago who placed the ball precisely in front of Carter, who took a few strokes before putting the ball in to the back of the net.

It was Lancaster’s turn to attack. With the simultaneous exclusion of Beth Richards and Laura Simmonds, Lancaster were provided with a perfect opportunity to score. Unfortunately for them, after play resumed from a time-out, York managed to successfully defend with two players down and the shot from Lancaster went wildly off target.

An opportunity to get her sixth goal was just missed by Highton as the ball hit the post. Another off-target shot from Lancaster followed. Then came a breakthrough from York as Richards turned her defender and swam the ball down the pool to score her fourth goal. The ball was passed between Fiona Whiting and Jago and provided Hannah Carter with the opportunity to get another goal.

Following another unsuccessful attack from Lancaster, the ball was back down in front of Lancaster’s goal and the defending team had a player excluded. York took a time out and set up a man-up arc formation to provide them with the best opportunity to score. After playing the ball around the top of the arc Highton managed a very impressive, accurate shot into the goal. She put the ball out of reach of the four Lancaster players who were defending the goal. Lancaster soon replied with an impressive goal, a potshot from six meters out. Soon after Highton added her seventh goal. The third quarter finished 13-1.

In the final quarter, York were out to attack the deep end. In the first 30 seconds they took the score to 14-1. Centre-back Gillian Jago got the ball in over the goalie despite mounting pressure from her chasing defender. Another powerful goal from Richards followed shortly. The Lancaster team appeared to be getting frustrated as Johns saved two on-target shots from the Red Rose. Richards received a long pass and quickly moved the ball on to Carter who scored.

Lancaster were not short of attacks in this quarter, but once again Jhons made an impressive save. A shot from Jago just fell short as she was pushed underwater by the opposition, but luckily the ball was picked up Highton who put it in the back of the net. Another goal from Carter followed.

The Lancaster team crowded the space in front of the goal, giving York another opportunity to counter an unsuccessful Lancaster attack. As Lancaster left a woman unmarked it provided a chance for Lauren Kiy to get a goal, but the Lancaster goalie came out to grab the ball from her.

The cheerful team after their win, sporting their hats. Image: UYSWC

The cheerful team after their win, sporting their hats. Image: UYSWC

As the ball got into York’s attacking half, the exclusion of the Lancaster captain provided a great opportunity for a quick 1-2 into the pit and a goal from Richards in centre-forward. This was closely followed by an attempt from Carter, which was saved by the Lancaster goalkeeper, as was a shot from Simmonds that resulted from the subsequent corner ball. The whistle was then blown, culminating in a 19-1 win for York.

This BUCS Cup win comes at the end of an extremely successful season for the women’s side. Alongside BUCS, York also play in the University Polo (UPolo) league giving them the opportunity to play against a variety teams in higher BUCS divisions. Recent results include a win over Newcastle, who finished 3rd in the Northern Premiership, and a 15-12 victory over Div 1 side Leeds Met. York also played a closely fought match against the Premiership side Leeds, finishing 9-8 after a last minute goal from a strong Leeds side. This bodes well for next year as these are teams York will be playing in BUCS after their promotion this year.

Captain Hannah Carter commented: “This victory is down to the commitment the team have shown all season; the close teamwork exhibited by the girls and some confidence-boosting wins this year over teams we thought, at first, impossible to beat. The girls played with determination and integrity and did not let their high standard of play slip when Lancaster lost composure. The support from the home crowd was fantastic and we are all so happy with the most successful season Women’s Water Polo at York has ever seen. We look forward to our final game next term. Lancaster, we are more than ready for Roses.”

York squad: Jhons (GK), Whiting, Highton, Jago, Carter (C), Chidwick, Richards, Simmonds, Peacop, Livermore, Kiy

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