Having just witnessed the men’s hockey team triumph in an impressive 4-0 win, UEA Ladies Hockey went straight into an adrenaline-fuelled warm up, determined to continue the party. Spurred on by the fantastic – and quite possibly, frozen – crowd, the home team were also looking for their first victory over Essex in four years. The match began tentatively on both sides, with the opposition’s quick counter-attack and consistent congestion of the centre of the pitch appearing as early warning signs. However, UEA remained level headed and relied on their ability to communicate effectively as a team, ensuring all players were marked. Roughly ten minutes into the half, it was Aoibh Foley’s composure in front of the keeper that gave UEA their first goal of many, settling any pre-match nerves and allowing the team to play their own brand of hockey.
Not content with the one goal lead, the ladies went on to score three more goals before half-time, including a great rebound from Laura Thompson-Wright after Alex Vaughan-Johncey’s shot was cleared. But it was the second half that proved to be UEA’s real moment to shine. Undeterred by the hilariously weak heckling from the handful of Essex supporters (which included references to childhood classic, Tracy Beaker), UEA Ladies Hockey played attacking hockey with poise and creativity, leaving the steadfast defensive unit of Liz Pope, Sarah Goodwin and keeper, Christina Chubb, with only a few moments to shine.
The home team consistently and imaginatively utilised the space available, with Rachel Mayne and captain, Sophie Mullan, holding the centre perfectly. This lead to some excellent distribution down the wings, allowing Rachael Probert and Emma Holbrook to make some great runs along to the baseline. UEA’s goal tally began to grow at an alarming rate, with Jess Wilson’s fantastic interception leading to an unstoppable shot from Micayla Tootill; but the goal of the game undoubtedly came from the stick of Harriet Johnson, as she undercut the ball and lobbied the keeper to hit the roof of the net. In yet another moment of excitement, Lou Patterson’s extraordinary aerial nearly cleared the gates of the Sportspark and left the crowd briefly fearing for their heads, but as the final whistle blew, one last strike from Club Captain Helen Busfield ensured an emphatic 7-0 victory for Ladies Hockey, rounding off an amazing day for UEA Sport.