VARSITY 2014: Hockey

Men’s Firsts

IMG_6874IT WAS AN all-or-nothing game with high stakes, and Team Aber’s Men’s 1st team emerged victorious over Bangor in their Varsity game, with the final score 1-0 to Aber. Drawing a large crowd of both Aberystwyth and Bangor supporters from various sports, the scene was set for a very close and exceptionally fast game of hockey.

The game began with a strong start from the Aberystwyth boys, captained by Rory Anderson, who were persistently testing the Bangor defence, but with Bangor not succumbing to the pressure. The game took a strange twist as a Bangor player, the infamous “Number 37”, was given a green card for having his stick higher than his shoulder when intercepting an aerial pass, which is illegal and deemed dangerous in hockey.

Aberystwyth continued to keep the play inside Bangor’s half, with Bangor making the occasional break and run at goal, often to be broken down by the Aber defence. Bangor’s defence was also performing well under the strain of the Aber attack, although both sides still managed to keep up the high speed of play.

IMG_6941At half time the score was still 0-0, with the atmosphere starting to grow as both teams were determined to get a goal, which came not long after the restart. Bangor provided an own goal, with an assist from Aber’s Chris Hardy, to send the Aberystwyth crowd into a frenzy of cheering and bagpipe music. Yes, bagpipe music. Shortly after, the cards came out again for “Number 37” who had committed the same offence, resulting in a yellow card, meaning Bangor were down to 10 men for five minutes.

The theme of carding continued as one of Aber’s players was given a yellow card for the same infringement, and another Bangor player was given a yellow too. Towards the end of the game the play started to get aggressive , with both Aber and Bangor making attacks at each others’ goals, and the frustration building up got too much for a Bangor player who was given a green card for reportedly swearing at the umpire’s decisions. The game came to an end with another yellow for Aber for intercepting an aerial shot too high.

The celebrations after the final whistle were very loud as all the Aber supporters celebrated to the audience of a devastated and dejected Bangor crowd. When asked to sum up the game in one word, the Bangor captain said “spirited”, which is very true as the Bangor team gave it their all. Alas it was not to be their day, as it belonged to Aberystwyth who finished their season on a big high. There will surely be some sore heads Sunday morning after that game.

Women’s Firsts

IMG_6571A DEFIANT AND ENTHUSIASTIC Aberystwyth Women’s 1st team were able to keep Bangor at bay in all but the final score in their very evenly matched Varsity game. The girls, captained by Flora Grove Smith, gave it their all, especially with a large crowd cheering them on, creating a brilliant atmosphere and essentially acting as the 12th player of the team.

The first half was dominated by neither team, both having an equal amount of possession and attacks on goal, all being well defended by both Aber and Bangor teams. At the end of the first half the score was still 0-0, but during the second half, the game became a bit more heated. A good start by Bangor was quickly broken down by Aberystwyth, resulting in a number of attacks on goal, which either resulted in missed shots on goal or good Bangor defence.

The first goal came from a short corner that Bangor were attacking, and provided a bit of relief for them as they, along with the Aber girls, were starting to get frustrated with the lack of goals. From then on, the game continued to be very even, but the score gave Aberystwyth some motivation and something to work for as they were now behind. As play continued, very ‘colourful’ chants were coming from the Team Aber supporters, mainly made up of other hockey players, to encourage the girls to get back the goal they were down.

Bangor scored again after another short corner, and the aggressiveness of the match took an upturn as the Aber girls were determined to get the goals to try and win the game. Alas, after many bursts up to goal, they were unable to do so.

Captain Flora Grove Smith, being interviewed after the game praised her team’s efforts and that they had a reason to keep their heads up and look forward to the season ahead. The Bangor captain was also upbeat, saying that they had a reason to celebrate tonight and that they would take the high that they have finished this year through to the next.

Women’s Seconds

THE Women’s 2nd team were unable to build on the win by the Mens’s 2nd team, who played immediately before them, in their defeat to Bangor in an exciting and entertaining Varsity game.

The game, which was watched by an ever growing crowd, began strongly for the Aberystwyth girls, who pressed towards the Bangor defence and kept play inside Bangor’s half for a period of time, but were unable to convert that into much needed goals to begin with.

IMG_6572A number of short corners were exchanged between the two teams, both being well defended by each team and not being converted into goals, as well as minor injuries for both an Aber and a Bangor player. The first goal on the scoresheet was from Bangor, with an impressive effort while attacking a short corner, but that was closely followed in a matter of minutes by an equally exceptional goal from Aberystwyth’s Catherine Keey after the restart.

After Aberystwyth’s goal, and into the second half, Bangor started to up their game and began to dominate possession of the ball, and concentrating play in Aber’s half, tested the defence and midfield. Team Aber did have some shining moments with a number of breaks resulting in shots on goal, but they were saved by the Bangor keeper.

Bangor’s second and third goals came during a period of domination towards the end of the match, and Aberystwyth were not able to respond. When interviewed after the match, Women’s 2nd team captain Caitlin Griffiths conceded that the Bangor team were just better than them, and that Team Aber are going to work to up their game in the coming season.

Men’s Seconds

IMG_6901A SPIRITED AND PASSIONATE performance by Bangor could not hold off the superb Aberystwyth Mens’ 2nd team in their Varsity fixture. The team, led by captain Alex Hannam, beat their fiercest rivals by four goals to one in an exciting and fast-paced game at the Sports Centre astro (nicknamed “The House of Pain” by the Aberystwyth team).

Throughout the game, Aberystwyth were advancing towards Bangor’s half and keeping play past their 25 yard line, resulting in a constant attack on the goal and repeatedly testing Bangor’s goalkeeper, who should be credited with making some impressive saves against the Aberystwyth attack. As a result many short and long corners were conceded by the Bangor defence giving Aberystwyth the chance to increase their score. However, umpiring decisions at some points in the game did not go Aber’s way. There were a handful of fouls and potential short corners not given by the umpires, but other than the standard muttering under their breaths and appeals to the umpire, it did not affect the team in any way.

IMG_6848Bangor, while having shining moments, including their impressive goal, found it difficult to get through the Aberystwyth defence- only managing to achieve a handful of short corners, most of which resulted in missed or saved shots on goal. Two goals from Rob Nicholls, and one each from Charlie Masey and Jakob Ooms, helped Aberystwyth to assert their dominance over Bangor and provided a strong base to continue going into next season and towards next year’s Varsity. Ooms’ strong contribution to the team throughout the entire match deserves rightful recognition as a player who stood out during the match.

When asked about the performance of his team, captain Alex Hannam praised the entire team’s hard work throughout this season and said that they were looking forward to the next, with new freshers in the team, and to hopefully defend their win next year.

 All photos by Eddie Whitehead