Six members of Stirling University women’s water polo team took to the pool for the final time on Monday evening, taking on league favourites Dundee.
Stirling started the game in confident mood with Beth Gray opening the scoring. However, Dundee hit back almost immediately to level the scores.
Not to be deterred Gray led the charge scoring again and almost completing a hat rick inside two minutes but unfortunately her final attempt left the crossbar shaking.
The teams then traded goals before Kayleigh Reid restored Stirling’s two goal advantage with a shot from halfway that meant Stirling ended the first period with a surprise 4-2 lead.
Dundee came out in the second period with a gritty determination – led by their influential captain they scored four times without reply in the first three minutes. Stirling regrouped and two goals from Langman and one from Reid stemmed the tide meaning that Dundee went into the half time interval just one goal ahead.
The second half started much the way the first ended with each team trading goals, Iona Craig and Langman scored early on to keep in touching distance, but they failed to capitalise on having an extra man when the Dundee number three was sent out for swearing at the referee.
Dundee’s superior fitness then started to show and they scored a further five goals in the third quarter with just one reply from Langman. The third quarter ended with Stirling trailing by 15-10.
Stirling won the final swim off and Lauren Averall scored almost immediately to give the team hope, but Dundee are ruthless on the counter attack and showed their composure with two quick goals.
With the clock ticking down Stirling upped their game and goals from Langman and Reid were the least they deserved from the fantastic fight and fortitude they showed in the final quarter. The game finished with a final goal from a classy Dundee side who although worthy winners knew they had come up against a spirited and skilful side.
The loss didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits however and the capacity crowd recognised the efforts of both teams. It was a fantastic end to a great season which sees Stirling finish in 4th place in the league.
The club wishes to thank the departing players; Emma High, Becky Langman, Beth Gray, Kayleigh Reid, Naomi Langdon-Wright and Iona Craig, for representing the club and university with such passion and desire over the past few years.
First team coach, Lewis Macgregor, commended the “legacy” that the girls leaving have created.
He said: “When they started they joined a team that was struggling to get enough players each week, now they are leaving behind a legacy having made the women’s team as secure and competitive since its inception nine years ago.”
He went on to say: “Being an inclusive team, we’re built on enjoyment as a priority, and success as a bonus, and they’ve helped to make the team a welcoming and enjoyable place to be.”
Photos courtesy of Hannah Louise Photography