UK University Ultimate 2017/18: Women’s Indoor Nationals Preview

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This year, University Women’s Indoor Nationals will be held in far distant Glasgow. Though extensive coverage will be taking place on the weekend itself, here is a sneak peek of what might go down on the fields of Ravenscraig this weekend.

 

East

Teams competing: Hertfordshire, Imperial, KCL, Oxford, UCL

The East region teams have to make a very long trek to Glasgow, but they will be bringing their a-game against any team who thinks that the distance puts them at a disadvantage. Hertfordshire, Imperial, KCL, Oxford and UCL (who qualified in that order) are all formidable teams with their own strengths and may be aiming to bring home some silverware, especially since last year’s National Champs Chichester didn’t even field a team for Regionals this year.

With a dominant showing by their women at Mixed Indoor Nationals, I’ll put my bets on Hertfordshire finishing the highest of the East region teams, with the highest possibility of  making the top three. Their women are tall, athletic, physical, and willing to put their body on the line for any disc. Keep an eye out for Ola Kulikowska (Uprising) and Cat Gale (GB U17 & U20 Coach) in particular.

Imperial, KCL, and Oxford will be trying to crack the top eight, and that would be a respectable finish for these teams. Imperial rely on quickness and structure, and their flow can be unstoppable, leading to two-pass scores. Claire Baker (GB U24 Women’s Captain) is a huge asset to the team, but the rest of the ladies on this highly disciplined team are not to be underestimated. If KCL have Lauren Bryant (Deep Space, ex-Iceni) to marshal the backfield, they will be on route for a top eight finish as they have the height and sticky hands in their receivers to pull down tough discs. They came second last year, though considering they did that with Karen Kwok (Iceni) and Lauren Bryant (ex-Iceni), it will be tough for the Thrown women to repeat those results.

Oxford sees the return of Joyce “The Kwokadile” Kwok (Iceni) to add to their experienced handler core, and they will be bringing a larger team than they did at Regionals to provide sufficient legs for the weekend. Christine “Triple C” Moore (Black Eagles) and Captain Sarah-Jane Rodgers (SYC) bring yet more star-power to this experienced team. UCL rounds off the five Eastern teams, and should not be underestimated. They topped their pool at Regionals, and, despite winning gold at Nationals last year, lost to an on-form Oxford in a crossover that led to them having to win all their remaining games to qualify. This team will be looking to better their seed, and are likely to  do so.

I’ve made some modest predictions on where the teams will finish, but I won’t be surprised if they surpass my predictions. There is plenty of talent and grit amongst the East region’s women.

Predictions:

Hertfordshire: 3rd

Imperial: 8th

Oxford: 9th

Kings: 10th

UCL: 12th

by Isabel Goh

 

West
Teams competing: Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Warwick.

The West has not historically had a great showing at UWIN, especially since Birmingham were knocked off their throne last year. The four teams representing certainly fought harder than usual for their spots, and will not be resting on their laurels come this weekend.

Bath were the surprise of Western Regionals, beating uBu in a nail-bitingly close final. Turns out that having three GB U24 players (Amy ‘Vz’ Van Zyl, Beatrix Perks, Georgia ‘G-Dawg’ Murphy) and a pickup who’s been playing for seventeen years (Shino Yoshen) helps you win games. With previous national champions Chichester out of the picture, and many other top teams suffering losses to graduation, Bath should certainly be aiming to hold third seed if not improve on it. Birmingham (uBu) should also be aiming high. Their pull plays and calm offence are often impossible to defend, especially with captain Ophelia Byrne (GB U24 Development Squad) and Grace Owen (Hydra) still on the roster, combined with a crop of tall and athletic third-years. They’re coming in 12th and have a tough pool, but I believe in you ladies, don’t let me down!

Further down the seedings are Bangor (14th) and Warwick Bears (16th). Bangor had little difficulty in securing third place at Regionals, breezing through their pool and only losing to uBu by two points in the semi-final. Captain Bethany Gunbie is joined by GB Junior veterans Tabi Caröe and Natalie Knight to create some unbeatable chemistry on pitch. Bears, on the other hand, had to take the backdoor route to qualification, beating Plymouth in the 4v5 after losing to Bath in their quarter-final. The Bears ladies have a talented and experienced squad with several Red Leicester players, as well as Chloe ‘Yorwerth’ Newsom (Jusdisc League) and Hannah ‘Newsom’ Yorwerth (St Albans). Their speed and physicality make them a force to be reckoned with, even though they are probably not looking to challenge the top half this year.

by Ali Thomas

Sheffield and Huddersfield battling it out at last years’ Indoor Regionals. Photo by Alice Hanton.

North

Teams competing: Huddersfield, Loughborough, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield.

The Northern teams performed strongly last year, with four of the five making the top ten. Given the hotly contested nature of every qualifying spot at Regionals, the spotlight is on the six qualifying teams to prove their worth to the rest of the country.

Huddersfield
Huddersfield were a small but exceptionally talented team, who came from sixth seed to dominate the tournament undefeated. Having previously come eighth in 2015, and not even qualifying last year, their victory was unexpected but entirely deserved, with fiery defence and a drilled iso offence that almost every team found impossible to defend. With GB U24 Development Squad player Tanya Fozzard and Elly White back from a year playing in New Zealand, these formidable ladies will undoubtedly be making a mark at Nationals.  

Loughborough
This  was the second year in a row that Loughborough reached the regional final but were unable to take the victory. However, their game against Huddersfield went to universe point and proved without a doubt that these ladies, led by GB U24 superstar Rupal Ghelani, will come out fighting at Nationals. All of their athletic first team have played club for LED or JR, and will be looking to improve on their 10th place from last year’s result.  

Leeds
‘Dropping’ down to third from winning last year, Leeds might be disappointed after their performance at Regionals, but were still an impressive and determined team. With GB Junior and club players Alice Hanton and Lucy Cinnamond leading them , Leeds were the second highest northern finisher last year at Nationals (eighth), and are going to be fired up to beat any local rivals they come across in revenge for Regionals.  

Manchester
The general consensus at Regionals was that Manchester had an easy route to qualification, but don’t let that fool you. This team were consistent and calm against every opponent, and never seem ruffled by any variation in defensive looks. With strong handlers leading the way (Bear Hare and Emily McCabe in particular), Manchester will be determined to improve upon their 19th place finish last year.

Newcastle
This is the second year running that the Pies ladies have finished fifth at Regionals. Last year they powered ahead to take fourth at Nationals, so the question is if they will be able to repeat their success? The losses of Lucy Hyde (SMOG) and Dianne Lopez (GB U24 Development Squad) are mitigated by the arrival of Jo Murnane, Kate Gibson (GB U24 Women) and Dawn Chueh, so be prepared for this team to not take any prisoners, and bring slick offensive looks off the back of challenging defence.  

Sheffield
Having not qualified last year, Sheffield are full of excitement and anticipation for Nationals. They proved their worthiness by beating seventh place finishers Durham twice to take the final qualifying spot. This small but cohesive team climbed seed at Regionals and could be dark horses to challenge the rest of the country in Glasgow.  

by Becky Greenwood and K-J Rowland

 

Scotland

Teams competing: Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow, St Andrews

With five teams from the host region, the Scottish women will be looking to break the pattern of the past couple of years. Scotland has a tradition of very strong women’s teams – one look at the outdoor results shows this – but that hasn’t managed to translate to a top three finish indoors in recent years. This year may the year that changes. Let’s get into it!

In order of seeding:  

First up is Edinburgh, Ro Sham Bo. They placed seventh  last year after a defeat by the eventual champions Chichester, and go into UWIN seeded fifth. I promise I’m not biased, this is a very strong team. Captains Kate Stafford and Kathleen Beekman are bringing a squad that has plenty of experience internationally, and have been building some great connections on field. I’d expect to see physical, fast play and lots of determination.  

Seeded sixth is Dark Horses: Strathclyde. Still suffering from jetlag, Katie Flight and Hayley Dalmon are fresh from U24 World Championships in Perth and heading a fast team at UWIN. At Regionals, Horses played excellently and made it to the final. The highest placing Scottish team at last year’s Nationals, this is a performance they will surely be wanting to repeat. Look for a tight zone and big throws, with play centred around Flight and Dalmon.

Hot on the heels of these two teams comes Aberdeen, in seventh. Captained by Eloise Savineu, their goal for UWIR was to make it to Nationals. Having done that, and seeded highly, they’ll probably be looking to hold seed and hopefully climb the rankings. Placing a high sixth last year, I’d expect them to do so! As always I’d mention the speed of Ellie Taylor. Rumour has it the heat in Australia just made her faster, so watch for burns from those cuts and, by contrast, trademark chilly handling.  

In 13th seed comes Glasgow.  Quite frankly, I’d expect them to climb up during pool stages. They certainly looked speedy and well-prepared at Regionals. They defeated the Edinburgh women’s side, and Captain Jiaqi Sng will absolutely be keeping her team’s eyes fixed on a high placing finish. They won’t be afraid to get up high and fight for every disc.  

And finally, St Andrews. Seeded 20th, the only way for them to go is up, and I can see them achieving that. Captain Laura Nagle heads the brightly dressed squad, which includes the U24 Women’s player Gabi Starek. In preparation for Regionals, they hinted at their secret play, “The German” which still confuses me, but basically I’d be expecting them to play through their handlers and not be afraid to go to ground to rescue discs.  

Overall, the Scottish women are looking well prepared for Nationals, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results. Catch me commentating on the livestream for this event during The ShowGame’s coverage or on Twitter @A_Bechtel62 for updates and puns!

by Annie Bechtel

 

Follow The ShowGame on Facebook for news concerning live coverage of UMWIN, and let us know in the comments what your predictions are. Best of luck to all those competing!

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