Georgia “GeeGee” Morrison gives us her outlook on the Eastern Indoor Women’s region.
University Ultimate is buzzing with the excitement of regional events. Mixed came and went with historic victories and shocking drops throughout the nation. Now it’s the turn of our ladies.
We have a pretty big region – the largest UK region in fact, comprising of 22 universities. Four spots are up for grabs to go to Nationals (UWIN) in February 2017, and no team will go down without a fight.
Last year’s nationals qualifiers were Oxford, University College London (UCL), Kings College London (KCL – Thrown) and Portsmouth (first to fourth respectively). The final was hotly contested with a fresh-looking UCL facing a deeply experienced Oxford team. GB Mixed’s Leila Denniston was a defensive machine and a force to be reckoned with; alongside Joyce Kwok’s impeccable offensive flow, the game ultimately swung in Oxford’s favour.
At UWIN 2016, UCL and Oxford both finished in the top eight, and so will be hoping to replicate those results (at least) this year.
Predicted Top 4
Straight to the prediction:
As previously mentioned, Oxford are deeply experienced. The team is missing Leila, but hold on to Joyce and SYC’s Christine Moore as a handler duo. They also pick up Cathryn Klusmeier, who holds a mere 11 years of experience in her Ultimate career.
KCL are looking very strong this year. They hold pretty much the same team as last year, including Iceni and GB Women’s Karen Kwok, with the additional pick up of Karen’s teammate Lauren Bryant. Thrown’s captain Megan Tracey says: “This year for our first team we hope to secure a spot at Nationals as we did last year. We’re also hoping to develop our second team in preparation for next year.”
Imperial and Chichester round out my predicted top four for the Eastern region. The unpredictability of women’s Ultimate is incredibly difficult to work around, especially with teams such as Cambridge and UCL pushing for a qualification spot. Imperial did not take a top four spot last year, in fact coming ninth. After their Mixed squad finished second at regionals and having watched them play at SICKO, it cannot be denied how talented and athletic these ladies are.
Chichester Cobras narrowly lost out last year in a tight game against the regional champions, finishing a very respectable fifth. Their Mixed team were victorious a few weeks ago in the game for Division 1 against Sussex, utilising their tall and athletic girls to break down and very well drilled Mohawk team. Cobras are not a team to ignore when considering who will make up this year’s top four.
UCL will fight their way to the end to qualify. They have unfortunately lost three of their key players, making they bid even tougher. In previous years they have dominated the region with the help of Iceni’s Vanessa Lowe and ex-Iceni and GB player Lauren Bowman, bulking the team with vital experience and grit. Captain Alicia Tan says: “More than anything, I’m hoping our women’s team will feel like a family that will fight for each other on the field.”
Cambridge’s current squad is laced with varying levels of experience from freshers to postgraduates, but are hopeful of finishing near the top of the table. As a squad, Strange Blue have a history of strong finishes in all three divisions, so it would not come as a surprise to see this team battle their way to top eight.
Sussex Mohawks are one of the most consistent and tenacious teams in the region, presenting strong fresher retention and holding some very experienced girls. Having affiliation with several Brighton club teams and the coaching of Felix Shardlow, Mohawks are never a team to be underestimated.
Teams to watch out for
London School of Economics (LSE) are making history by entering their first ever Women’s team into a university event. It is incredible to watch the development of Women’s Ultimate at competitive levels, which LSE are showing this year. Their captain Marta Verani is looking forward to regionals in Brighton this year, saying: “We have three experienced players and a lot of new enthusiastic freshers. Looking to have a great experience and learn a lot from the other teams at the tournament.”
Feature photo by Andrew Moss.