With a secure mid-table position and an unbeaten record at home, UEA Ladies’ Hockey Club have made a solid start to their 2014/15 Bucs season. The Ladies are currently sitting in fourth place in Midlands 2B, taking seven points from five games, and only goal difference separates them from third place. Promoted into this league just two seasons ago, the team has performed consistently, with their only two losses coming at the hands of joint league leaders, Birmingham 4s and Loughborough 3s. The side are already looking to the future – having learnt from these losses and going from strength to strength through the course of the season.
Bucs Hockey marks a change from the Saturday league hockey that the majority of girls are used to, but it never sacrifices the fun and enjoyment. Bucs means a different atmosphere, a chance to play in new positions and most importantly, the opportunity to play with girls from other teams. Captain Sophie Mullan has found the Bucs season so far “very rewarding, both on and off the pitch, with girls showing commitment to represent their university, as well as showing personal support to their friends within the team”. Mullan dubbed the ladies’ consistency “an incredible achievement and much deserved for a group of girls full of enthusiasm and fight. I am very proud to be a part of it and to have the opportunity to captain such a great side”.
The well-fought win against Nottingham 4s perhaps best encapsulates the team’s spirit and determination. At 2-1 behind with less than 20 minutes left to play, the ladies refused to succumb to the loss by digging deep and fighting back to win the game 3-2, playing some exceptional and fluid hockey in the process. However, their accomplishments do not stop there. UEA Ladies are already through to the quarterfinals of the Midlands Conference Cup, their best result since the Cup’s inception in 2011. Having recorded 4-0 and 5-0 wins against Anglia Ruskin and Birmingham City respectively, the ladies will be hoping to continue their considerable success when they come up against Loughborough 3s in the next round.
A 2-0 away win against Nottingham Trent 2s on Wednesday marked their last league game of 2014, and UEA will be hoping to use their new-found form and home advantage during a clash with top-of-the-table Birmingham 4s in January. Undoubtedly, the team has the quality to challenge further in the New Year and 2015 shows significant promise for UEA Ladies’ Hockey. Their success this season shows the depth of quality within the four ladies’ teams, not to mention the strength of community in the club as a whole. This includes support from Men’s Hockey Club, something which is reciprocated with the ladies always finding time to cheer on the men’s team during their fantastic season.
Defeat in the last 16 of the Cup on flicks to Birmingham 4s may have ended a 21-match unbeaten streak for UEA Men’s Hockey, but the team remain strong promotion contenders, five points clear at the top of the Bucs Midlands Division 3A and second in the Saturday league going into Christmas. After some strong performances from the team, including a 13-0 trouncing of Leicester and a 9-0 against Warwick, UEA were in a rich vein of form ahead of their trip to face a strong Birmingham side to decide a place in the quarter finals. The match started off brightly for both teams with chances at both ends, however it was Birmingham who managed to break the deadlock to go 1-0 up. Undeterred, UEA continued their expansive attacking style of play and were soon peppering the opposition goal with chances. This finally took its toll when Merlin Smethurst goaded a Birmingham defender into a nasty challenge to earn UEA a penalty flick, which was clinically dispatched into the corner by Gabriel Inch just before half time. After some motivational words at the break by captain Albert Forsey, UEA started the second half well and mounted a constant stream of pressure on the Birmingham defence. It was all one way traffic, but UEA were unfortunately unable to convert their pressure into a goal. With the match finishing 1-1, it would be decided by penalty flicks, which saw Birmingham prevail 4-1.
UEA’s Cup run may be over, but the team can take confidence from mixing it with teams in the league above theirs. “This season we have a really strong group of players” reflected Forsey. “This has allowed us to play as a unit with real togetherness and the difference has shown in our results. “Dan Woods is an integral member of our midfield. Our fresher Pistol is doing a good job at centre back and is improving with every game. Gabriel Inch, captain on Saturdays has brought some excellent hockey tactics and his knowledge and reading of the game is enviable. I think we have an excellent opportunity to win our Bucs league and achieve our goal of double promotion”.