Marching Forwards: University of Kent Women’s Hockey win BUCS South Eastern Conference Cup

Image courtesy of UKC Women's Hockey

University of Kent (UKC) Women’s 1’s were victorious over Imperial Women’s 1’s, on 11th March, in Surrey. What an achievement to claim the BUCS South Eastern Conference Cup.

On reflection, Captain Caitlin Merison said, “the win for me meant everything. I was extremely proud of the team who had given everything they had.”

After the close shave against St Mary’s in the semi-finals, (and a recent agonising loss against Canterbury Christ Church at Varsity), UKC were equally apprehensive as they were hungry for that Cup.

Defensive player, Rosie Kemp articulated, “the semi-finals proved that no matter how the game may start off, we can always pick it back up and come out on top.” This was reiterated by Goalkeeper Roanne Foister; “it showed us that if you really want something, to not give up.”

UKC certainly did not give up. With slick transfers, they had worked on in training and utilising the posts for deflections on the attacking short corner structures, UKC Women’s 1’s, as player Emily Hartle expressed, had a “seamless play.”

Image courtesy of UKC Women's Hockey

With nerves bubbling at the beginning, Kemp expressed, “the first five minutes or so we played down to Imperial”, however as they got into their stride, UKC pulled together. The first half saw UKC lead 1-0 with an accurate strike from attacker, Jasmine Clarke. Half time ended at 1-1, with a lucky goal from Imperial. It was anybody’s game, but thanks to a stunning goal-line save from Merison, the team were restored with another level of energy and determination within the second half.

It was no surprise this was a highlight of the fixture, and Merison was Man of the Match, since, Vice-Captain Rebecca Ellis recalled, “at this point, we were 2-1 up, so a goal from Imperial would have leveled the score and left it all to play for.”

Another highlight was Lara Creighton’s goal in the second half to take the scoreline to 2-1 for UKC. On reflection, Ellis said, “Lara’s goal from the baseline… the angle was crazy!”

Not only was the pattern of play smooth overall, but also within each individual sector of play. Kemp articulated the defense “transfers up to the midfield but also across the pitch had massively improved. We had the confidence to send the ball from centre back to either wing.” This strategy aids in gaining width, and in turn creates goal opportunities due to the spaces and movement it creates.

Image courtesy of UKC Women's Hockey

Amid the COVID-19 climate, hockey at large has come to a standstill. Yet, UKC continues to look forward and maintain a high level of physical fitness.

Clarke says “I am exercising every day. This helps with your mental state. It is important to keep the fitness going so that I am fully prepared for the new season to begin.”

In parallel, Foister now plans on “using [her] rebound net to keep up [her] reaction time.”

The Women’s 1’s now await the verdict of whether a promotion is granted, as they sit joint-top with Christ Church in the normal BUCS League.

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