Oxford University Hockey Club
The Women's Blues will, once again, be defending their crown in the Varsity Match. Last years 2-1 victory means that they haven't failed to win since 2015, and will be feeling confident. Their new position in National leagues for both BUCS and Saturday leaves them playing some scintillating hockey and Captain Lee-Smith is hungry for success. The men lost in 2019, but new skipper Josh Keeling left with a deserved player of the match award for sheer belligerence and no little skill. The side has seen a lot of turnover in the squad, but they are capable of beating the best around on their day. The message from Oxford: "bring it on".
This year the Mens Blues have been blessed with an unprecedented amount of turnover. With 14 players in the squad being freshers or coming up from the Occasionals, it has been a great opportunity to mould the squad and rebuild to form strong foundations. Being such a new squad, early on we struggled to add the final touches to our play and went without a win during preseason, but trust in the new playing style and the tactical depth that the team has brought in resulted in a resounding 5-1 win in the first Saturday game of the season. This has been followed by a Michaelmas term that has seen good victories sprinkled with a few frustrating results (such as a 3-3 draw against top of the table London Wayfarers) which have left us 5th in the South Premier Division. Looking on to the second half of the season, with a few players returning from injury and the team more settled, we find ourselves with the opportunity to turn those almost results into wins to really make our mark on the league and of course to take back the varsity trophy on the 1st of March.
The Women’s Blues have had a seriously impressive first half of the season. Coming into the beginning of this year, we were surrounded by new things: two new leagues, two new coaches, new players, new captain, new formation, new presses - it was all new (well most of it). However, following a strong preseason, getting to know our new players and coach, Tamsin Pascoe (BUCs/Wednesday Coach), we started seeing results.
On a Saturday, we lost our first game away at Cheltenham, but after that we embarked upon a 7 game unbeaten streak, finding ourselves just 1 point off the top in 6th week! As is always the case with OUHC, the fatigue of 7th and 8th week saw this streak come to an end, and a couple of losses crept in, putting us 4th in National League Conference West going into Christmas. We hope to be top 3, maybe even knick the play off spot, by the end of the season. Even setting this goal would have seemed crazy at the start of the season, when we sat down in our first team meeting and discussed how we were going to stay up in National League!
On a Wednesday, we play in the BUCS National League against the likes of Birmingham, Nottingham, and Loughborough. It’s safe to say the WBs have been pulling their weight against the big guns of the University hockey world. With only Loughborough left to face next term, we look set to stay up in the National League, and long may that continue.
It has been a wonderful term for the WBs on and off the pitch, and we are looking forward to getting back into the swing of things next term and achieving our ambitious season aims. It’s an absolute pleasure to be part of such a great group of hockey players and people - we can only hope to follow in the Women’s Blues teams before us, and shoe the tabs for the 5th time in a row come Varsity!