The Women’s Hockey first XI play in two leagues this season: the BUCS League during the week and the National League Division 2 at the weekends. An incredible season last year saw them topping the BUCS league and taking home the title of not only the league, but the BUCS Conference Cup also. The odds were in the Saints’ favour. However, after a rocky start to the BUCS league, the team had only four points going into their Halloween clash against Edinburgh’s second team who were in fifth place, two places behind the third-place St Andrews. With only one win out of their first four games, the pressure was on the girls to perform – and they did not disappoint. In an enthralling game, the girls managed to secure a 3-2 victory at home.
The match started slowly with no real attempts on goal from either side and neither team looked obviously stronger. The Saints had some defending to do and Edinburgh looked slightly threatening as the first half continued, showcasing some great defending from the girls to prevent Edinburgh from taking the lead. A great run from vice captain Holly Beckett gave the girls their first strong chance on goal, but they couldn’t quite manage to take the lead. The first half ended goalless and seeming like it may stay that way for the duration of the match.
The Saints started the second half well, looking like the stronger team, seeing a second chance on goal but the ball was defended by Edinburgh and went out for a short corner. A great play from the girls resulting in the first goal of the game coming from Jane Wackett putting the Saints, deservedly, 1-0 up.
There was great hockey played by the girls as the match progressed with most of the game seemingly being played in Edinburgh’s half with, strong attempts on goal from the team. Edinburgh eventually managed to move play into the Saints half and after some good defending from the Saints, the ball went out for a short corner for Edinburgh, their second of the game.
With the Saints 1-0 up Edinburgh were looking to even the score, and that they did. With the score at 1-1 it was looking unlikely that there would be any further goals. But the Saint’s determination did not waiver and they came back fighting.
Another goal for the Saints made the score 2-1, this time from Sophia Free and the girls’ spirits seemed to be lifted. It was looking like they were going to be victorious. However, it appeared that Edinburgh weren’t willing to let this match go without a fight and a great run from their side saw goalkeeper Amy Cairns coming out to defend, a move which was unfortunately exploited by the Edinburgh girls, enabling them to score a second, and the teams were level for the third time in this match. It was seeming that the Saints were unable to maintain their lead. But they had been the stronger team for the duration of the second half and they were determined to make that known.
A good ball in from Edinburgh saw them looking to score again and take the lead, but the Saints weren’t willing to let that happen, defending excellently and getting the ball safely away from the danger zone.
As we approached the last few minutes of the game a great ball in from Wackett saw play moving, once again, into Edinburgh’s half. With four minutes left an incredible goal from Free (her second of the match after an excellent shift) put the Saints back in the lead.
As the final whistle blew, celebration erupted from the girls on the pitch and from the support on the side-lines. A really strong effort from the girls sees them joint on points with second place Strathclyde University in the Second Scottish University League, the only thing standing between them and that second place spot is the goal difference, which as it is only early in the season, they should be able to improve over the next few games. The girls’ commitment and perseverance showed today and they were unwilling to let the opportunity of a strong win pass them by. Overall an excellent performance from the whole team and an indication of another excellent season to come.