Report Author: Rhia Perks
Game: Southampton Women’s vs London School of Economics
At 11am, SUWPC ladies met on redbrick to start the longest day of their polo careers. A team of 8, joined by two loyal supporters and one very injured team member who was already getting FOMO from being kept out the pool, so didn’t want to miss out on the matches altogether. Don’t trip on metal stairs, kids. 0/10 would not recommend. The 8 players who could still walk prepared themselves for the first match of the day in London. Nerves were low, considering their league position depended on it, every other team had beat LSE, they only had one sub, and they were told: “you better win, it’s an easy win, you’ll definitely win”. No pressure. We arrived at the pool with plenty of time to spare, but it was a long wait as the naturist swim beforehand ran over. After rumours of some fiddling in the changing rooms, the team were eventually allowed in to get changed and the supporters headed to poolside, only seeing 3 bums in the process.
After a lengthy warmup, the first quarter began with a bang as Emma won the swim off. But the excitement quickly vanished when fresher Abbie received a major less than one minute into the match. A very silly fresher. This was quickly redeemed by Char Davis gaining the first goal of the day, followed by one LSE goal, a goal from Emma and two more LSE goals. This was all in the space of about two minutes, happening so quickly that Rhia missed the entire thing when she walked to get Char’s inhaler. It was a fast-paced game. Captain Critchley ended the quarter with another goal, as well as her first major of the day (with many more to come), followed by one more LSE goal. The quarter finished 4-3, with high hopes that Soton could pull it back. (Spoiler alert: we couldn’t).
The second quarter kept the same high-speed thrills as the first – at least it did for LSE. We began the quarter with one major for fresher Gemma, who then climbed out of the pool (we don’t know why either) at the wrong corner. Somehow, miraculously, the ref decided to let her off for this mishap, but Gemma, determined to get the two majors she deserved, decided to dive into the pool in the middle of gameplay. Of course, Gemma received her second major, but we were all thankful (and amazed) that she wasn’t wrapped. Getting wrapped in the second quarter would be very silly, and something our captain certainly would not stand for… After such an eventful minute, LSE wanted a bit of attention for themselves so decided to score a goal. Apparently this attention was not sufficient, as they began to attack Meg whilst she was in goal, which seems to be becoming quite a habit. They somehow tricked Meg into committing a major, gaining themselves a penalty which was successfully scored. This gave them such a high that they proceeded to score 3 more goals, but success went to their head and they committed a major, granting a penalty to SUWPC. Char effortlessly pinged the ball into the back of the net – this time learning to wait for the whistle. This made LSE very jealous, so they decided to one-up us and scored two more. The quarter ended 11-4, with a pretty disheartened but determined SUWPC. Looks like this match wasn’t going to be as easy as we were told.
The third quarter sadly began with another LSE goal. We wanted to believe their luck ended there since they granted us a penalty, but it appeared that their luck was only just beginning as Emma unfortunately threw this one to the goalie. LSE picked up 5 more goals and 2 majors, whilst Soton fell behind with 3 goals from Emma, Natalia and Abbie. Special mention to Abbie, who managed to score from halfway down the pool – we’ve seen how far she can throw before, but luckily this time it went into the goal instead of a panic pass to the other team. Progress! Unfortunately for us, the end of this quarter cued LSE’s decision to change their goalie, after a mysterious spectator who had no affiliation whatsoever to SUWPC told our team she may be less than adequate. Although they may have used more choice words. Who can remember? We do not condone this poor sportsmanship, but it was a shame to be faced with yet another challenge. The quarter ended 17-7.
The fourth quarter was by far the best performance from Soton. Within 15 seconds, we had won a penalty, which saw our captain take a beautiful shot, lifting spirits to drive the team for the final 7 minutes, determined to close that gap. Within 1 minute, LSE scored two more, with one incredible shot from Emily Pearce (who once again played fantastically). Emma, determined not to let LSE take another quarter, pinged in 3 more shots, whilst LSE managed three more too but awarded us another penalty. Fresher Natalia took her first-ever penalty and executed it beautifully. To polish off a very successful quarter, Captain Critchley scored one more in the final 30 seconds, her eighth goal of the match. They finished the game 20-14.
Splitting up into three cars, the girls (and honourary girls) headed back to Southampton to face their final match of the season, and second of the day. Luckily, Char also made it back with her inhaler, despite her best efforts to leave it as a present for LSE. A group of exhausted girls had two hours to get ready to do it all again.
Man of the Match
This one’s a tie. It easily has to go to Emma for being top goalscorer – 8 goals in one game is ridiculously impressive. But it is impossible to not also credit Natalia for her performance in this match, being responsible for the majority of flawless passes to the pit which led to these goals. Good work girls.
Mug of the Match
Gemma. Without question. Nobody knows how you didn’t get wrapped but we are very glad you didn’t because the rest of your gameplay was great.
Name – Goals/Majors
Meg Morecroft – 0/1
Emma Critchley – 8/2
Emily Pearce – 1/0
Helen Davey – 0/0
Gemma Lawrence – 0/2
Abbie Turner – 1/1
Natalia Tsouka – 2/0
Char Davis – 2/0