by Shannon Scovel
When the University of West of Scotland women’s hockey team members showed up to the Gannochy on Wednesday, the odds immediately appeared to be against them.
They entered the game three players short of a full squad and had no substitutes, looking outnumbered in every way as they prepared to take on the Stirling 3s. Yet, despite their smaller squad, West of Scotland outran, outshot and outscored the women in green, taking down the home side 4-1 in what Stirling’s coach called a “frustrating” result stemming from his team’s lack of fitness.
“We haven’t been in a training session after Christmas because of the snow, so it’s the first time the girls have picked up a stick in a few months,” Stirling head coach Ben Basey said.
“A lot lack of fitness considering they haven’t played sport in two months, but [I] can’t fault them on their effort, it not too bad. [I] would prefer to have been better considering [West of Scotland] didn’t have the full 11, but can’t do anything about that.”
UWS, even with their small number of athletes, took control of the game early on, scoring a goal off a penalty corner in the first few minutes. Stirling retaliated, however, and notched a goal of their own after firing a hard shot past the West of Scotland goalie eight minutes later, sending the game into halftime with the score still tied.
The two goals aside, the battle between the two teams also resulted in bloodshed and a series of injuries that hindered the strength of the Stirling squad. In the last few minutes of the first half, Stirling’s Catriona Kirk found herself in an intensive scramble for the ball on the field that ultimately led to the ball being chipped into the air and hitting her the mouth. An ambulance was called, and Kirk ultimately needed stitches.
Her injury wasn’t the only physical concern for Stirling, however, as a collision between another Stirling athlete and the goalie on a breakaway in the second half resulted in a sprained hand for the Stirling player, causing her to need to be removed from the game. Down two valuable assets, Stirling struggled to rebound and find the back of the net, resulting in the 4-1 loss. Three of UWS’s goals came in the second half, after Kirk’s injury.
Stirling goalkeeper Katie Huddart, who Basey credits as one of Stirling’s standout performers despite the loss, saw some of the most action of any player on the pitch, as she fended off penalty corner after penalty corner from the visitors. Huddart allowed four goals past her pads, but Basey acknowledges that she had “quite a lot to do” during the matchup and performed well given the strength of the West of Scotland team. While Huddart did not have the same impression of her own performance, she hopes that with more training and less weather complications, the team will be back on track as the semester progresses.
“I think we could have played better, but I don’t think it helps since we haven’t been training because of the snow and everything,” Huddart said. “And injuries didn’t help.”
The Stirling 3s will return to the pitches next week when they play the Edinburgh 6s, a game vice-captain Gabby Simes said will be challenging, but one that will allow the team a chance to build on today’s performance and test their fitness again. She plans to lead quietly and take care of the small parts of the game, allowing captain Louise Rorke to be the guiding voice for the squad.
“Louise, our captain, she’s really good at being very vocal on the pitch and organizing things as well in terms of training,” Simes said. “I think to do with all the backseat kind of stuff that’s my forte.”
Regardless of the outcome next week, Simes hopes her team’s performance will be less “demoralizing” than today’s contest against West of Scotland.