East Grinstead women scoop bronze at the Euro Indoors Cup
DUNDEE Wanderers flew the flag for Scottish hockey in fine style at the weekend while a gallant East Grinstead side fell agonisingly short of promotion at the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy.
Silver proved good enough to see Dundee move into Europe’s indoor elite competition next season after an intense three days of indoor hockey action in Siauliai, Lithuania.
Dundee’s bid for gold came unstuck in their final match when they were beaten by eventual champions MSC Sumchanka, of Ukraine, 5-1.
But that proved to be only a minor blip in the overall picture as they not only secured top flight indoor hockey for 2018, but also played together as a full team for the first time this season.
“We went with a squad that we knew could finish in the top three,” said Dundee’s Vikki Bunce.
“We’ve played our domestic season without two of our internationals, Becky Ward and Charlotte Watson, who were competing for Scotland in the World League in Valencia.
“They flew home on Monday and we left on Wednesday for Lithuania. It’s been a good tournament, lots of close and competitive matches. We were fortunate that some other results had gone our way but we feel we performed pretty consistently so we are happy with that.
“A few more goals in a few more games would have been nice, but we defended well as a team and had a 100 per cent defensive record going into our last match.”
Bunce highlighted two emerging youngsters in 16-year-old Emily Dark, who played her first game for the club in Lithuania, and Ruth Blaikie, 15, with the pair scoring seven goals between them.
“They have both been fantastic and are such good prospects for the future,” she said.
A mix of youth – Dundee travelled with three Under-14 players – and experienced heads, including the returning duo from international duties, clearly proved beneficial for the Scots in the end.
Bunce added: “The girls were really tired but dug deep and put in a massive shift. Becky ‘The Wall’ Ward was fantastic as always and Charlotte can beat anyone with her sheer pace. Both did a fantastic job.”
As did Carmin Dow, who was awarded goalkeeper of the tournment. “She plays a massive role in how we defend as a team,” Bunce said.
East Grinstead coach Mary Booth also praised the efforts of her goalkeeper, Kirsty Mackay, for keeping the Sussex side within a whisker of promotion.
Defeats to the top two sides – 4-3 to Sumchanka and 4-2 to Dundee in their opening game – left East Grinstead with an uphill struggle. And in the end they fell three goals short of securing top-flight status and were forced to settle for a third place finish.
“Kirsty was outrageous against the Ukranians,” admitted Booth. “I know Maddie (Hinch) is good, but Kirsty was superb.
“She read every single short corner and got them rattled. When they got to corner number six they just didn’t know what to do.”
Booth claimed that their eventual defeat to Sumchanka was the highest standard of hockey played over the weekend. And despite missing out on promotion – English indoor champions Slough will now take East Grinstead’s place in Europe next season – she remained upbeat.
She said: “This was great for the girls and for the club. It was just a pity that we messed up the domestic indoor season.”
Booth said that one of the differences over the weekend was a difference in interpretation of the indoor rules by English and European umpires, especially when it came to the slap hit.
For example, the European players would tend to take a higher stick, giving them more ball pace where it would be deemed a foul in England. It was a “learning curve” as far as Booth was concerned and she said that she would handing over video footage to England’s domestic officials.
Meanwhile, Mannheimer became European champions after beating HC Minsk in a thrilling final 5-3 in the elite Championship division.
Club de Campo de Madrid just lost out on a medal to hosts, Rotweiss Wettingen, in an equally entertaining bronze medal match. It was won by Wettingen 3-2 and played out in front of a partisan crowd of 600.
Wettingen’s Stephanie Walti was awarded player of the tournament by officials.
Silver lining: Dundee with their runners-up trophy. Right, top: Dundee on the attack, below, East Grinstead shoot PICTURES: Mark Hollis
Under attack: East Grinstead on the defence