Friday 8th March saw the first Ladies playing their return away match against Bath in the UPolo tournament.
Aside from BUCS, which very few of our first team were actually able to attend, this was our first match this year in a double-deep pool. In addition to this, the Bath pool was Olympic sized and had a full 8 lanes- meaning it was a good 4metres wider than we were used to playing.
We warmed up, had a team talk, walking through the different tactics for use in a wide pool, and then the match began. All too soon, Bath players began to break away from us and get one-on-ones with Eloise in goal. Many were easily and capably saved, but the sheer number of shots meant that 4 slipped past to find the back of the net. The Southampton girls did not let this faze them however, continuing to defend strongly and counter-attack quickly. The Bath keeper’s skill meant that we did not manage to score in the first quarter, but our full-press defence meant that not a single goal was scored off the Bath arc.
We regrouped during the break, and came back out confidently. We now knew which of the Bath players were fast, and managed to mark them out of the game appropriately. By playing our attack more carefully and slowly we kept possession for longer, provoking Bath to give away more majors. Multiple times we had the ball turned over against us as the 30 second shot clock ran down, until finally one shot and a penalty made their way past the Bath keeper. The quarter ended 4-2 to Bath, but a 2-0 quarter win to us meant that we were bolder going into the 3rd quarter.
The 3rd quarter passed with neither team managing to get away from the other, both getting very tired due to the lack of available time to substitute players. The last minute descended into a melee of long shots, missed passes and scrappy tackles as both teams got more desperate, and the quarter ended 4-2 again; neither team managing to score.
We went into the last quarter exhausted, but knowing that the match was very close. After an injury to a Bath player, both teams now had only two substitutes, and Southampton had 7 minutes to pull the game back. The quarter was the fastest, the most physical and the most frustrating. Both teams defended with a full pool press, and neither managed to break away. A major against a Bath player in the last two minutes allowed us a quick one-two that snuck into the goal, but unfortunately Bath managed to hold us off there. The game ended 4-3 to Bath; an incredibly close score that showed just how close fought the match was between the two teams. Well done to everyone who played, we’re now looking forward to our last game of the league this coming Wednesday!
1 – Ali Rodari
1 – Nicole Alexy
1 – Vicky Gall