March 21, 2018, by brzmjb1
BUCS Big Wednesday : Women’s Hockey narrowly miss out on Championship Gold
It is a week to the day since University of Nottingham ladies recorded their dramatic 3-1 semi-final victory over league leaders University of Birmingham.
That victory came off the back of an amazing season in the BUCS North A Division, finishing the 3rdin the Premier North League behind both Durham and Birmingham. The team have finished higher in the league and with more wins than any other season to date.
The girls have consistently reached new highs, their first match being a win against Loughborough their opponents this afternoon.
Head Coach, Matt Taylor named an unchanged side sticking with Goal scorers Esme Burge and Charlotte Calnan in the starting XI.
The crowd was absolutely packed at Beeston Hockey club as the girls took to the field, with Green and Gold fans joined in the stands by Nottingham Trent University supporters who were eagerly awaiting the Men’s Championship final at the final whistle.
Eloise Stenner (Scholar, GB Elite Development Programme, England U21)
Lottie Ross (Scholar, GB EDP, England U18)
Phoebe Willars (GB EDP)
Saskia Swotland (England U18)
Becky Hutson (C)
Clari Goni (Scholar)
Esme Burge (Scholar, GB EDP, England U21)
Ella Bromley (GB EDP, England U18)
Paige Gillott (Scholar, England U21)
Ali Campos (Scholar)
Sophie Tait (Scholar, England U18)
Charlotte Calnan (Scholar, England U21)
Jess Roe (Wales U23)
Ella Bromley pushed back to Eloise Stenner to get things underway and it was Stenner’s driving run across the half way line that set the tone early on. She found Bromley who whipped it across the box but just failed to find a UoN attacker in the box in the first real chance of the game.
There was a real pace about UoNs play, spurred on by the crowd and Pheobe Willars, Lottie Ross and Stenner were confident with the ball at the back inviting Loughborough to press the ball high and catch them out.
Ali Campos started a great move for UoN, battling hard to win the ball back down the left hand side, switching play nicely around the back three and changing the point of attack but as Bromley was about to pull the trigger Loughbrouough snuffed out the dangerous attack.
Possession changed hands frequently with both teams struggling to get a foothold in the fast paced high tempo game which saw Goni, Campos, and Ross replaced after an intense first 15 minutes of play.
Loughborough nearly latched onto a long through ball, their first dangerous chance of the half but the forward failed to control the ball at the crucial moment and the chance went begging.
Moments later, Bromley was again at the heart of some UoN dangerous play as she darted for the goal resulting the first penalty corner of the game. It was taken by Willars, assisted by Becky Huston and struck low goal wards by Esme Burge, but the keeper saved well low to her right.
A well organised defence kept another two Penalty corners out in quick succession with Burge again unfortunate not to have taken the lead, denied again by a wonderful stop from the Loughborough goalkeeper.
Roe was caught in possession in midfield shortly after, but spared her blushes as everyone rushed back to cover. Loughborough by this point were pressing the ball hard and feeding off the scraps.
Burge was also battling in midfield and when she dispossessed a Loughborough midfielder on the half way line she put through Bromley who just missed out on making it 1-0, finding the outstretched keeper instead of the back of the net.
With 10 mins left in first half UoN were awarded another penalty corner. The block from the original shot fell to Burge who neatly squared the ball to Stenner. The resulting shot looped into the air and the Green and Gold again went agonisingly close to taking the lead.
When the breakthrough came, it was entirely against the run of play.
A Loughborough counter attack began from deep in the UoN half after feeding off loose possession. When the ball was eventually fed into the box following some neat stick work, Willars was on hand to block the danger on the line but was adjudged to have done so illegally by the officials and a penalty flick was awarded.
The resultant flick was neatly dispatched under a diving Laura Daglish who went the right way but couldn’t prevent the first goal of the game going to Loughborough as the minutes ticked out on the first half.
HT: University of Nottingham 1s 0-1 Loughborough University 1s
Fired up for the second half, UoN piled on the pressure with Paige Gillot running herself into the ground to win the ball back for her teammates and ensuring Loughborough could barely get out of their half.
The chances continued to come and there was a great chance for Campos who found herself in space and unleashed a powerful shot across the keeper but failed to convert. She had another chance moments later when the ball broke free from a heavy Gillot tackle but could only force the ball wide under pressure.
It was clear that Loughborough had set out not to concede early in this second half, with the team dropping deep allowing UoN time on the ball.
As quickly as UoN looked like they might claw their way back into the game, the chance was taken away from them and the next goal was a real dagger to the heart. After giving away a cheap penalty, Loughborough’s Lizzie Neal latched on to open play and shot low across a sprawling Dalgish to increase Loughborough’s lead to 2-0 – clinical finishing from Loughborough.
Dalgish was then forced into a double save to prevent the margin growing even further snuffing out another counter attack, but UoN never gave up.
Swatland nearly found an advancing Holly Dean in the box with a cross but it was deflected by a Loughborough defender, just enough so that Dean was unable to get a strong enough connection on the ball and guide it towards goal.
Swatland’s tenacity then won a penalty corner for UoN as she dug hard to win the ball deep against the Loughborough line. The Green and Gold still couldn’t find the net and the resulting attempt from Stenner was deflected wide after a last second block, a familiar theme of Loughborough’s resolute defence all afternoon.
The visitors turned defence into attack in a matter of seconds and a mistake in possession by Willars gifted Annabelle Sands the perfect opportunity to extend Loughborough’s lead to 0-3.
Bromley prevented a fourth, as Loughborough hit with yet another counter attack down the right hand side.
UoN threw themselves at the game and even though the deficit was large they tried everything to get back into it. More chances went begging for the Green and Gold but the breakthrough did eventually come.
Calnan found space down the right and was fouled on the line resulting in another penalty corner. Taken by Willars, it was Stenner who smashed the ball home in the bottom right corner to make it 1-3 with 10 minutes left on the clock leaving everyone to dream that a huge comeback might be on the cards.
Loughborough didn’t hold back and tried to put the game out of sight and had it not been for another wonderful save from Daglish with 8 left on the clock, the game would have been well and truly over.
Late on, Burge again weaved her way into the box only to be tripped and awarded a Penalty Corner, a decision that was bizarrely reversed much to a bemusement of all in attendance.
With seconds left on the clock there was time for one last penalty corner which was deflected into the path of Calnan. She twisted and turned and took her goal superbly well but it wasn’t enough and as the whilst blew it was Loughborough who won the BUCS Championship 3-2.
HT: University of Nottingham 1st 2-3 Loughborough University 1st
Speaking immediately after the game, 1st team captain and senior Becky Hutson said, “We broke history, the first team to get this far and beating the tournament favourites in the semi-final so in that respect it’s been a phenomenal campaign. Big shame about the result but we just didn’t convert our chances in the end, it was one of those days.”
It’s tough to lose like this and we’ll be reflecting for a long time but that’s the nature of the sport, you have to fight these games physically and emotionally.”
It was amazing to see so many supporters here, you all made such a different, I just want to thank everyone who has followed us.
Thank you to all the seniors who will be leaving this year after 3 or 4 years of hard work including girls who aren’t in this squad today. We’ve done so much as a squad, have worn the badge loud and proud and it’s been a privilege to have been on this journey with them.”
Also speaking after the match Head Coach Matt Taylor said: “There’s a lot of positives to take from this. My fear was that playing Birmingham in the semi-final that we would treat that as our final. Today we weren’t quite at the races and we knew we needed our A-game out there. Having said that we created a lot of chances and you’ve got to take your chances. They did, we didn’t unfortunately and it’s that simple.
As a group are a very young team and we’ve got a lot to learn but I’m pleased with the season. It’s a brilliant effort from the girls and I’m really proud of all of them.”
You can rewatch the action from the Women’s Hockey Championship Final below.