The University of Nottingham (UoN) Hockey Team recorded wins for both the men’s and women’s in their Varsity event against Nottingham Trent University (NTU), with the score at 8-4 after Friday’s fixtures.
The atmosphere was electric with banners, beer and chants aplenty ahead of the University of Nottingham Hockey Club’s respective encounters with Nottingham Trent University on a fine afternoon at Beeston Hockey Club.
The overall varsity score was poised at 6-3 prior to the match, and victory for both of our sides would restore some sheen to the UoN lead, after disappointment on Thursday with defeat in the Ice Hockey.
Womens’ Hockey president Mary McCarthy was certainly optimistic about UoN’s prospects going into the game, commending Trent on “their constant efforts despite year after year of defeat”. The NTU Women’s First Team had, however, achieved second place in BUCS league Midlands 1A, representing a successful season.
UoN narrowly escaped relegation in the Premier North league, finishing 5th and collecting just five points from the whole campaign. Nevertheless, UoN have a better record than Trent in previous Varsity series, with the green and gold winning six out of the last nine matches, the latest being a close 1-0 victory in 2015.
UoN’s determination, passion and possession-keeping skills set them apart from their inter city rivals in the first half
It was quickly apparent as the game began at Beeston Hockey Club that this encounter was to be a much more one-sided affair. Within a matter of minutes, Yemisis Sofolarin gave UoN the lead with a tap in from close range, before captain Issy Davison doubled UoN’s lead shortly after, with a low accurate hit into the corner from ten yards out.
Sofolarin then scored her second goal of the afternoon with a tap in on the half hour mark, after a long period of UoN possession, as the green and gold asserted their dominance on their home turf and going in 3-0 at half time.
UoN’s determination, passion and possession-keeping skills set them apart from their inter city rivals in the first half, and the ladies continued to showcase these attributes in the second period.
UoN asserted their dominance of possession once again at the beginning of the second-half, with Emma Hardern and Ruth Tressider spreading the ball wide and driving forward on the counter attack for UoN, to carve open the Trent back line. Hardern increased the score to 4-0 early in the second half, when a short corner was accurately swept into the bottom left hand corner of Trent keeper Melissa Burgin’s goal.
Hutson said that “the girls put in a real team effort today, which is testament to the squad’s approach to matches all season long.”
Meghan Howitt then made it 5-0 with a low shot after a goalmouth scramble, as the floodgates well and truly opened in the green and gold’s favour. A flurry of chances were missed by substitute Annie Tuuty and England under 16 international Becky Hutson as Trent’s defence was repeatedly opened up, before her fellow England teammate Chloe McIntosh hit NTU for six with another accurate hit from the home side.
Star performer Emma Hardern picked up another goal to complete the 7-0 demolition of our inter city rivals. Celebrations were rapturous with chants of ‘green and gold’ bellowing from the stands as the full time whistle blew.
Impact Sport spoke to super sub Annie Tuuty and Becky Hutson after the game. Hutson said that “the girls put in a real team effort today, which is testament to the squad’s approach to matches all season long.” Tuuty described varsity as “the defining moment” of their season.
With the ladies’ 7-0 thumping of Trent, all eyes were on the men’s hockey team, and whether they could replicate the success in their encounter. The green and gold had had a disappointing campaign in BUCS, with only one victory and five defeats all season including a 3-1 loss against Trent. Despite this, their rivals finished one place lower than UoN in the same Premier North A division and were subsequently relegated.
Nevertheless, history in varsity is on the UoN’s side with 5 wins in the last 8 series, with last years result finishing 4-2 to the green and gold.
The game at Beeston Hockey Club began at a frantic pace, with Trent enjoying most of the early possession. It became clear this was to be a more closely fought encounter than the ladies match, as Ben James dramatically cleared the ball off of the line in mid-air after a strong Trent hit from the edge of the box.
“The green and gold came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, looking to double their lead, and it was a matter of minutes before they did so”
Trent had the lion share of opportunities in the first period, but against the run of play Tom Sorsby swept the ball into the corner from long range with an accurate hit. Thanks to Sorsby’s goal, the green and gold went in 1-0 at the break.
The atmosphere on the sidelines racked up a notch, as the whole UoN hockey club were in full voice, with chants of ‘unayy’ aplenty.
The green and gold came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, looking to double their lead, and it was a matter of minutes before they did so. American international Mo Gandhi powerfully struck the ball home from the edge of the box to make the score 2-0.
Trent brought a greater intensity to the game after their setbacks, however, with slick passing by England under 21 internationals Chris Proctor and Robbie Glesson opening up the UoN defence on successive occasions.
They were indeed the architects of Trent’s comeback as Proctor fired in from close range after a long spell of posession to pull a goal back for the men in pink.
“Jonny Ruiz dramatically forced home the winner for the green and gold in the dying moments of the game, to send the green and gold on the sidelines into raptures”
The game opened up with the score poised at 2-1, with drives forward from Mo Gandhi for UoN creating opportunities for captain Jonny Ruiz and Welsh Under-18 international Ed Iffla. However, Trent also fashioned chances of their own. and their equaliser came from a swift counter attacking move. finished off by Robbie Glesson with a fine hit into the far corner.
A nervy last 10 minutes was characterised by assault after assault upon the Trent goal. After endless Trent clearances and tackles, Jonny Ruiz dramatically forced home the winner for the green and gold in the dying moments of the game, to send the green and gold on the sidelines into raptures. As the final whistle blew the hockey club members on the sidelines joined their clubmates on the pitch to celebrate the extraordinary victory.
Impact Sport spoke to Ruiz after the game, who spoke of the incredible togetherness within the team and the fantastic support on the day as key factors in the victory. The whole UoN Hockey club will be delighted with a fantastic performance from both sides as the University of Nottingham go marching on in this Varsity series.
Words by Joe Tanner
Image: Amy Rainbow for the IMPACT Images Team
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