The BUCS 1A league is a highly competitive atmosphere, in which Saints regularly compete against much larger universities with considerably higher budgets. Most matches are incredibly fast paced and reflect the high standard of the uppermost league in Scotland. With nowhere to be promoted to, Saints are playing for pride.
In a season rife with injuries – including multiple ankle sprains, a broken jaw for Fiona O’Brien and a ball to the eye of defender Anna Smrckova – Saints have done well to remain positive and play competitively.
On Wednesday 7th of March, the Women’s Hockey 1st XI lined up to face a well-drilled Edinburgh 2nd XI. As the final BUCS match of the season and with six members of the squad in their final year, it promised to be an exciting and emotional match; to this end, the ladies in light blue did not disappoint.
From their previous form, both teams are well-matched in speed and ability. Meeting previously at Peffermill, the Edinburgh side had narrowly defeated Saints in a match where both sides were complimented on their sportsmanship and skill level.
This equality in dexterity was evident in the half time score of 0-0, with both teams spending plenty of time in their opponent’s circle. This writer may be slightly biased, but it felt that Saints had the competitive edge with their highly effective attacking press.
Both sides were working hard, and after half time, Saints knew that Edinburgh would come out rejuvenated, having received a ‘talking-to’ by their coach. Listening to some choice words from Captain Rebecca Bamford and the rest of the team, Saints started intensely, holding the play in their attacking third.
A break came in the first five minutes, with attacker Talia Sarafilovic slotting the ball neatly past the Edinburgh keeper on the far post.
The relentless nature of the match began to drain both teams, but they battled on, through a spontaneous shower of sleet, which chilled the athletes and made visibility difficult.
The tricky conditions seemed to affect Saints badly, and Edinburgh managed to sneak the ball past the defence. The teams battled on, and Edinburgh yet again managed to slip the ball across the goal line.
With the score at 2-1 to Edinburgh, the Saints redoubled their efforts with seven minutes remaining. Unfortunately, despite Saints holding a lot of the play, the team from south of the Forth defended well and the Saints could not get an equaliser. The Edinburgh side were the victors in a highly competitive match to end the season on a thrilling note.
The St Andrews Ladies 1st XI finished the season fourth in their league, and with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th XIs all being promoted, the next year will prove to be an exciting one.