After a number of months of miserable English weather our European guests brought with them sunshine and soaring temperatures to create the perfect setting for the EuroHockey ClubTrophy in Rochester. Hosts Holcombe HC were not scheduled to play until 18:45, so there was a long wait for the home crowd to see the current EuroHockey Club Trophy Champions, however with Waterloo Ducks and their significant travelling support the atmosphere was vibrant from Game 1.
Waterloo Ducks, from Belgium, faced HC Victoria Smolevichi of Belarus, and after Ulyana Kasabutskaya opened the scoring in the 12 minute the largely Belgian crowd was stunned into silence. As the game progressed however they recovered their composure and 2 goals in 3 minutes from Morgane Vouche and Marie Ronquetti ensured the best possible start and 5 points.
The next game, also from Pool B, saw last season’s bronze medallists in the EuroHockey Club Cup, Club de Campo de Madrid from Spain, face MSC Sumchanka of Ukraine. The Spanish side set out their intent in this tournament with an efficient 5-0 win with goals from Begoña Garcia, Ana Medina, Carmen Cano Ruiz, Laura Barrios and Elisa Gil.
The first Pool A fixture of the day event was a contest between Edinburgh University of Scotland and Dinamo-COP Moscomsport from Russia. The Edinburgh team twice raced into a two-goal lead before a 3 goal salvo in the last 15 minutes saw the Russian side draw level at 3-3, Iuliia Frolova’s goal just three minutes before the full time whistle proving to be the last score of the game.
After three absorbing games to kick off the tournament, it was finally time for Holcombe – coached by Leigh Maasdorp – to take to the field, with the clubhouse terrace packed full to the rafters with members of the club and other spectators all turning up to lend their support.
The atmosphere was superb and, after Dirkie Chamberlain’s first minute goal, it looked as though Holcombe could make the ideal start to their campaign but University College Dublin from Ireland, were a lively and entertaining team completely unfazed by the crowd and after a string of chances netted a deserved equaliser after breaking fast down the right wing and crossing for Ellen Curran to slide in on the 33rd minute.
The hosts did have a goal ruled out as both sides pushed hard for the winner but they cancelled each other out and the game ended in a draw – meaning all four teams in Pool A were tied on 2 points.
The following morning saw the Waterloo Ducks again in action only this time they shook off pre-tournament nerves with a faultless 8-0 victory over Ukrainian side MSC Sumchanka.
Having scored two goals in the opening period to take control of the game Sumchanka fought back in the second quarter without finding any success in front of goal and paid the price in Q3, conceding goals from Daphné Gose and then Marie Ronquetti. In the final 9 minutes the Belgians scored four more goals through Gose, Emilie Sinia, Joanne Peeters and Lauriane Stappaerts to win the match and put pressure on their nearest rivals Campo.
Club de Campo de Madrid responded to the challenge against HC Victoria Smolevichi with a composed 4-0 victory and another strong display of attacking intent. They opened the scoring through Begoña Garcia in open play in the 10th minute. The had to wait until the fourth quarter to add a second through a penalty corner and a third in open play. They then took off their goalkeeper looking for an improved goal difference and it paid off when they made it 4-0 through Carmen Cano Ruiz in the final minute.
The afternoon matches were all in Pool A and the big question was with four teams all level on 2 points who would take control of a group.
First University College Dublin took on Edinburgh University. It was another game showcasing the high standard of passing accuracy and ball speed across the teams and after 9 minutes of tit-for-tat Sarah Young of UCD popped up to deflect in a reverse stick cross to open the scoring. The scoreline doubled on 21 minutes through a stunning Niamh Carey strike. In Q3 Nina Heisterkamp and captain Leah Maguire both scored penalty corners, the first after following up a rebound and the second from a straight strike to give UCD complete control. When Michelle Carey added a 5th goal in Q4 UCD coach Miles Waren opted to remove the goal keeper in search of a bigger win and and all important goal difference – a bold move but resulted in Edinburgh pulling a goal back through Hanna McKie five minutes from time.
Once again the terraces of Holcombe Park were bursting for the next game for the home team but it was Dinamo-COP Moscomsport who took the lead in the sixth minute. This really galvanised the home team and after a couple of half chances were spurned, a deserved equaliser came on 14 minutes a long pass into the circle was touched past the goalkeeper by Sofia Viarengo. The second quarter was well contested but Holcombe, playing confidently, added a second through Hattie Jones on 29 minutes Welsh goalkeeper Rose Thomas had to make a great penalty corner save in the final seconds of the half to diving to her right to turn the drag flick from Bogdana Savovaia wide.
It wasn’t until the third quarter that Holcombe were finally able to dispel the pressure that comes with the being the host team, scoring three goals in the opening seven minutes of the third period. First, Leah Wilkinson deflected Emma Trunks’ slap goal bound before Trunks found the net herself. Another Wilkinson deflection was then stopped illegally on the line, allowing captain Steph Elliott put the penalty stroke into the bottom corner. Holcombe couldn’t find more goals despite Jo Westwood forcing a good save at yet another set piece and in the fourth quarter their final pass wasn’t quite good enough to open up the defence. A foul by Trunks then saw a penalty stroke awarded to Moscomsport, with Bogdana Sadovaia beating Thomas from the spot.
The ground filled early with the eagerly awaited confrontation between Club de Campo de Madrid and Waterloo Ducks who both had two wins out of two heading into the Pool B encounter.
Nothing that had gone before could have prepared you for the next 60 minutes, simply that Campo played hockey that most people could only dream of -a faultless game of high quality execution of basic skills, high press, brilliant short corner routines – it was a match that will live long in the memory.
The Spaniards ran out 9-0 winners, which meant the Belgians were consigned to playing in Monday’s Bronze Medal Match. Goals from Begoña Garcia (2), Carmen Cano Ruiz (3), Laura Barrios, Empar Gil, Beatriz Perez Lagunas and Lucia Abajo Saenz de Tejada not only maintained their perfect record and earned a place in the EuroHockey Club Trophy Final but also meant they had not conceded a goal.
MSC Sumchanka and HC Victoria Smolevichi then played out the final Pool B match in a battle for third and fourth place in the group to try to earn more ranking points for their country.
It was a strong display from the Belarusians as they raced into a 2-0 lead in the opening sixteen minutes through goals from Alina Sashko and Hanna Zabrotskaya, before the Ukrainian team pulled a goal back just three minutes later Yuliia Shevchenko firing home.
That fragile lead saw Victoria in to the half time break, before a goal four minutes before the end of the third quarter from Yulia Mikheichyk restored their two goal advantage.
The final quarter was much more comfortable for Victoria as Sumchanka picked up two cards and conceded two further goals in the 50th and 53rd minutes respectively, meaning a 5-1 win for HC Victoria Smolevichi.
Once again the Pool A matches followed Pool B with the University College Dublin slight favourites to progress to the final owing to their superior goal difference over hosts Holcombe.
UCD were to take on Dinamo-COP Moscomsport, beaten 5-2 by Holcombe the previous day, and with current form a guide most expected the Irish to prevail, but this is tournament sport and nothing should be taken for granted. The Russian team found their best form and with goals from Alina Khalimova and Ekaterina Stepanenko found themselves 2-0 up at half time.
The third quarter was tense and tight for all supporters but was goalless meaning UCD had it all to do in the last quarter and they responded magnificently with 2 goals in 2 minutes through Leah Maguire and Sarah Patton both from short corners to bring the scores level at 2-2. Moscomsport hadn’t read the script though and promptly went down the other end and scored again through Ekaterina Shaburova to win the game 3-2 and provide Holcombe with a chance to qualify if they avoided defeat in their final game.
In the final Pool game Holcombe had the better of the opening quarter against Edinburgh University having won two penalty corners but they couldn’t convert until the 25th minute through Leah Wilkinson, who had forced a good save from the University goalkeeper already.
Goals followed from a Beth Bingham volley, an Emma Trunks short corner strike and a diving deflection from Sofia Viarengo to see the hosts through to the Final – where they would meet Spanish side Club de Campo de Madrid.
For the fourth day in succession the sun shone and the crowds came and watched a feast of high quality hockey but unlike in the men’s form of the game there were no shootouts.
Edinburgh University played MSC Sumchanka first to decide 7th/8th places and vital ranking points with both sides still looking for their first win of the tournament. Sumchanka scored in each of the first two quarters to set up a 2-0 lead, the first goal coming from a short corner hit from Yevheniya Moroz beating Edinburgh keeper Katherine Goddard low to her right, the second added by Olha Honcharenko just before half time. Edinburgh weren’t to be denied and twice pulled a goal back but Sumchanka held on for 3-2 winners the final goal coming from Yuliia Schevchenko.
The 5th/6th play off place was an exciting end-to end encounter between Dinamo-COP Moscomsport and HC Victoria Smolevichi and with both sides committed to attack this was a thoroughly entertaining match. Moscomsport took the lead but then fell 2-1 and then 3-2 behind before eventually winning 4-3. Bogdana Sadovaia scored twice, her fierce-some drag-flicking a feature all competition, Ekaterina Stepanenko and Alina Goryacheva also scoring for Moscomsport with Victoria replying through a brace from Yulia Mikheichyk and a goal from Karyna Syddykava.
The bronze medal match was between Waterloo Ducks, looking to bounce back from the heavy defeat against Campo, against UCD. They Ducks scored their first goal on the stroke of half time through Marie Ronquetti and doubled their lead right at the end of the third quarter from a short corner with the initial shot being saved but Morgane Vouche followed up deflecting high into the net. The Belgians held on against a plucky UCD to win 2-0.
So to the final Holcombe HC versus Club de Campo de Madrid. The opening exchanges were tight Campo once again pressing high up the pitch and putting pressure on the experienced Holcombe defence. However it was Holcombe who almost drew first blood when Dirkie Chamberlain’s drag flick bounced off the post. Campo though continued to dominate possession and took the lead through a short corner Empar Gil deflecting the slap shot high over Rose Thomas in goal. The score remained a slender 1-0 into the third quarter before Campo extended their lead with a well worked team goal passing nicely around the D before Begoña Garcia deflected in.
With Holcombe now having to commit more numbers to attack Campo scored a slick break-away goal through Alejandra Torres-Quevedo for 3-0 before just two minutes later Sofia Varengo-Cervino achieved what no team had managed previously beating Maria Angelos Ruiz Castillo in the Campo goal for 3-1. Holcombe went to kicking back in the final 4 minutes but were unable to add any further goals.
Thanks to Brian Field for the report, and to Cesar Velasco and Theresa Waight for the photographs.
Congratulations to Club de Campo de Madrid, EuroHockey Club Trophy Champions. Well done to all the teams involved, and sincere thanks and congratulations to hosts Holcombe HC for a wonderfully-run event.