Sunday saw a strong team of 14 Vixens compete in the First Ladies National Qualifier for the 2017/2018 season. This years format is different with BHUK holding 2 qualifiers before the National Finals.
The day started off with a strong performance against Widnes earning the ladies a 1-0 victory with Helen Moss finally getting the ball past the netminder after numerous attempts.
Up next the Vixens faced off against the Bee knees. It was an even game until the Bees knees took the lead. We kept battling with Chloe Rudkin getting a corker of a goal, even more impressive when her first choice position is between the pipes. The game continued to be end to end and finished at 1-1.
The third game of the day was against the Sheffield Steelers. It was a slower tempo game compared to the previous two, but a tough game nonetheless. It ended with the us taking a 2-0 win.
After a game break we were back on court to face the Avengers. Having watched the Avengers play we went into the game knowing it would be a high tempo game with pressure from the moment the ball dropped. Unfortunately after the first period the Vixens were 2-0 down. The second period saw us come out fighting and putting together some great play unfortunately to little avail against the Avengers defence and the game ended at 2-0.
The final game for the us and for the tournament was against the North East Dekstars. Going into the game we knew if we won we would end the tournament in second place, something we have never achieved before. We went down 1-0 relatively early on but the girls kept battling and were pushing forward to get the scores back onto even terms. Despite some great shots and movement towards goal nothing ending up in the back of it and the Dekstars went on to get their second goal. The ladies kept pushing to the final whistle to try and get something from the game but unfortunately it wasn’t to be and it ended 2-0.
Whilst it was a disappointing end to the tournament to finish 4th rather than 2nd it shows how far the team has come over the past few years since it was officially established in 2015.
For some of the ladies it was the first time they had competed in a ladies only tournament, with most having experience of playing in the Central Conference for their respective teams. Sitting under the Nottingham Wolves umbrella has allowed the Vixens to play friendlies against the other Wolves teams in the lead up to the tournament, which has paid dividends as the day showed how much the team has moved forward and are coming together, despite missing some regular faces from the line up do to other commitments and illness.
Team coach Luke Browne had the following to say about the day; ‘I think the girls at the weekend did a great job. At times the girls were untouchable and we worked really well at pinning teams in their own zone and made it hard for teams to play good hockey against us, in the end I think our legs got to the best of us. As a team we were a little disappointed coming away with forth place knowing how well we played and how much we dominated a lot of games but we will take the experience back to training and start preparing for the next tournament in January’
The tournament itself was a fantastic day and just shows how far the ladies game has come along in the UK since 2011 and the ‘Original 16’ headed out to Bratislava for the World Championships. Unlike previous seasons the fact we get to met again before National Finals, with the potential of other teams also being at the qualifier allows all teams more opportunities to play and will aid the ladies GB campaign.
The next step for the Vixens is a game on Sunday. We are fortunate enough to be able to compete in the new Nottinghamshire Ball Hockey Cup, having already played against the Werewolves and coming out of the game with a defeat, we look to take on the Direwolves and hopefully use lessons learnt on Sunday to play some great hockey and use it as preparation for January 13th and the Second Nationals qualifier.