By Charlotte Greenwood, Deputy Sport Editor and Masters Student, Contemporary Identities
A dislocated shoulder, four fast-paced quarters and 17 goals for the home side; it’s no large claim that the Bristol Women’s first game was an exciting start to their season.
Coming off last season, placing second in the league, the 1sts took a huge 17-3 lead over their midlands rivals from Birmingham. With a new influx of athletes in their first year at Bristol, this was, for many of them, their first game performing at a university-level standard.
The first quarter saw Bristol take an easy lead, showing a clear and successful structure to an impressive 5 goals in just a short 8 minutes. With the vast support from fellow athletes and local supporters on the balcony, the centre was filled with noise both in and off the water.
Heading into the second quarter, the noise in the water grew as Birmingham attempted to close the gap, firing in 3 goals towards the end of the quarter. The frustration was clear when Birmingham called for a timeout, immediately scoring a goal which was later disallowed. Bristol took advantage of this frenzy, sticking to their well-practiced succession of passes; ending the quarter with a 12-3 lead.
Entering the final two quarters of the game, Bristol harnessed the advantages of facing a weaker opposition, infiltrating Birmingham’s long and loopy shots with impressive marking and focused aims with immediate success. From this point on, their lead remained unchallenged and the calls from the balcony to try a ‘back-shot’ cemented the inevitability of their eventual success.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game was that, despite their healthy lead, the Women’s 1s never compromised on their effort – there was always a sense that something could change. Whether this has been a lesson learnt from previous seasons I am unsure, but the professionalism and drive to perform until the final buzzer, made for an impressive spectator experience.
With Birmingham’s best player receiving three exclusions and therefore sent out for the rest of the game, Bristol took the final score of an impressive 17 goals to 3 in the close of the final quarter. This excitement for their successful debut was clear when captain Lauren Harrison commented that ‘it was a great start to the season considering it was the first time we had played as a team together with our new freshers’.
This cohesion of new athletes alongside previous athletes at Bristol has clearly proven to be an effective advantage; undoubtable in Harrison’s expression that there is a renewed ‘strength across the board which will hopefully make a positive impact on the whole team’. Similarly, Bristol’s goalkeeper, Elizabeth Lee, said that despite this being the first time this team had played together, ‘it’s like we’ve been playing as a squad for years!’, reinforcing this element of pride in performance to their gaming debut.
With a win under their belt in home water, the first team went on to dominate Cambridge 1s in an away fixture on 11 November, winning 23-6. Hopefully Bristol can take their new excitement and momentum to challenge for a top spot this season!
Photo by Emily Dickson
Can Bristol maintain their momentum by overcoming league leaders Bath 1s on Wednesday 14 November? Let us know what you think!