Kings Take the Crown

Report Author: Rhia Perks

Game: Southampton Women vs King’s College London Women

Location: Whitgift School

Score: 19-9

Date: 23/10/22

There’s nothing like a relaxing Sunday afternoon. For SUWPC’s women’s 1st team, this was absolutely nothing like a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Tensions were high as 12 coughing and disease-ridden girls travelled to play King’s College London – the undefeated winners of last season. An eventful journey started with Emily’s bus arriving late, then the window of the minibus fell off – they do say bad things come in threes …

 After an almost completely successful nail check (we handed out nail clippers and nail files on the bus but somehow people still failed), Lottie was pulled out of our warm-up to tape up her bracelet in case she planned to use it to rip someone’s finger off. The rest of the team warmed up and tried to pretend they weren’t bricking it. Rhia confessed she was indeed bricking it, which prompted fresher, Iris, to respond “If you’re scared, I should be terrified!” Oops – maybe that wasn’t the best pep talk. We were then informed that for no reason whatsoever, we would be playing 8-minute quarters (not even rolling!) – this is not in line with BUCS rules and frankly was exhausting.

 Quarter one began with an almost immediate major from Natalia. Soton successfully defended the man-down and even manged to score the first two goals of the game from newbie, Acacia, and returner, Emily. Kings, determined to defend their title, scored three goals of their own. Meanwhile, Captain Katie was keeping one of their strongest players at bay. The ref quickly noticed Katie being held by the neck and warned both her and Kings 12 that unless they calmed down, they’d be out for the rest of the match. Please be calmer when you’re being strangled, Katie. The first quarter ends 2-3 Kings.

 The second quarter saw KCL’s Italian National player score two goals in quick succession as, shockingly, Rhia was not strong enough to defend her. Soton earned another major as Jess was sent out – probably because when a Kings player asked Jess not to break her costume, Jess responded that she’d break her nose instead. That seems like an even trade. Soton defended their man-down excellently again, preventing any goals. With a full team back in the pool, Kings scored again, but were quickly followed by a goal from Katie. KCL scored twice more and Katie took her second goal of the match. The Italian Stallion set up to shoot from 1 metre so Rhia swam over her and grabbed onto her elbow, backing Lottie’s chance of saving a penalty more than this close call. Unfortunately, they scored their penalty anyway, giving Rhia an unhelpful major. Claudia, defending the sisterhood, earned herself a major in solidarity too – Kings took advantage of their man-up with another goal. Katie reciprocated a final shot with 5 seconds to spare, so the quarter ends 5-9.

 After a quick intermission and pep talk from Coach Alex, the girls entered the third quarter with confidence that they could pull it back. The ref called both teams to line-up for the swim-off, but Kings decided not to bother. Eventually, Soton are told to just go and manage to sprint down the pool before any defenders had even climbed in. Somehow, we still didn’t score. Emily redeemed herself with another goal, but Rhia was only earning another major by pulling someone’s foot as they swam away. Kings took their chance and scored again. Katie, who had earlier been told to calm down, also earned herself a major as she gave away a penalty. It was beautifully saved by Lottie, but Kings managed to score another goal soon after. Katie scored again. Emily demonstrated a beautiful counterattack as she sprinted the length of the pool and lost her defenders. She then took a pretty rubbish shot to the bottom of the goal – miraculously, it went in. Kings earned themselves a goal too. They employed some confusion tactics against Jasmine, asking “Can you do me a favour and just swim away from me? Can you zip up my costume?” – safe to say it hurt Jasmine’s head (not literally). Determined to hurt as many heads as possible, Kings received a major for smacking Jess in the face so hard that we had to pause the game. She climbed out but was quickly fixed by a pat on the head from the ref – genuinely, he did that. Acacia scored again, but so did Kings. Lucia gave away a foul, but as the referee called King’s ball, she decided she didn’t care and picked it up anyway. The girl has literally just completed a referee course. She was immediately given a major. By the time she had swam to the side, Kings scored and she was allowed back in. She decided she couldn’t be bothered to swim back again so made Rhia sub in with just 20 seconds left. Kings score again, so the quarter ends 9-15.

 With a lot less optimism and a lot more damage control, Soton enter their fourth and final quarter. Kings still managed to score 4 goals, but our defence was pretty sharp. Our delightful coach reminded us that the ref was not calling many fouls, so we could be a bit more aggressive. Rhia might have taken this too far, as she grabbed onto Italiana’s costume and clung on like her life depended on it – stopping the King’s player from swimming and pulling her back to the surface whenever she tried to play the foul. Somehow, the ref decided it was fine, even if it did mean Rhia was subject to a lot of Italian insults. Questo di Pesto. Once the poor Kings player had finally managed to pass the ball, far away from her and Rhia, she deliberately gave Rhia a kick in the chest so hard that Rhia couldn’t breathe until the end of the game. She did apologise and they hugged, which was weird. Feeling inspired by these aggressive antics, another Kings player right hooked Natalia – it left her with no memory of the punch, but a sore jaw for several days. The game ended 19-9.

 During a thunderstorm (hello, pathetic fallacy), the girls quickly climbed aboard the minibus so the driver could race home for his own match. With a speedy stop at a Shell service station (no bigger loss than not having a McLoss), we arrived in Soton to cheer on the men. It also gave us plenty of time to compare battle scars: scratched chest for Katie; scratched legs for Lottie; scratched/bruised chest and bruised arm for Rhia; scratched chest and black eye for Acacia. Are we sure KCL passed their nail check? Despite what the scoresheet says, the women played well – there was a lot of improvement from their last KCL match so it’ll be an interesting rematch in a few months.

Man of the Match

Acacia Bell – an excellent first BUCS game for SUWPC with two goals and the battle scars to prove it.

Dick of the Day

Lucia Ciardo – you went on a referee training course two weeks ago and still managed to pick up a Kings ball to earn a major.

Names – Goals/Majors

Charlotte Ratledge – 0/0

Emily Bownes – 3/0

Acacia Bell – 2/0

Iris Bugnar – 0/0

Jess Grace – 0/1

Rhia Perks – 0/2

Katie Magill – 4/1

Georgia Skelton – 0/0

Claudia Ellis-Bone – 0/1

Natalia Tsouka – 0/1

Lucia Ciardo – 0/1

Jasmine Brown – 0/0