University of Exeter 1s crowned CHAMPIONS

BUCS Championship Cup EUMHC

University of Exeter 1s have been crowned winners of the BUCS PwC Hockey Championship after their hard-fought and well-deserved 4 – 3 victory over Durham University at Abbeydale Park, Sheffield.

Large, boisterous students and face-painted crowds from both Exeter and Durham packed into the stands surrounding the astro-turf, voicing their unwavering support over the opening minutes of the game as chances were created but neither team could convert.

The score-line stalemate was broken after fifteen minutes, however, when Nick Cooper forced Durham’s goalkeeper, Lewis Ankers, into making successive saves as he lay sprawled across the floor before the Exeter forward prodded the ball into Durham’s goal from close range.

Durham responded well to their setback and Hugh Robinson exploited space along the right-flank to instigate several attacking movements that demanded Exeter’s defence to remain steady; their incessant pressure on Exeter eventually resulted in winning a penalty flick that Daniel Coultas fired into the top left-hand corner of Chris Rea’s goal to level the score with five minutes remaining.

After relinquishing the lead, Exeter, invigorated perhaps by their frustration at having conceded both a penalty corner and a penalty flick, started playing their best hockey of the game: Nick Cooper completed his hat-trick just ten minutes into the second half via moves that both involved moving the ball swiftly and then penetrating the space created amidst a stretched Durham defence.

Durham, or Daniel Coultas to be more precise, remained ignorant to the matter of accepting defeat, however, as the Scotland international sent two drag flicks fizzing past Chris Rea to draw the score level once again – Coultas’ second drag-flick, his third goal of the game, was a sublime finish that nestled the ball into the goal’s top right hand corner: the best goal of the game.

Both sides then sought to find the fourth goal that would turn the other team’s hopes of victory into despair, and, with just five minutes remaining, Exeter won a penalty corner that Tom Carson coolly converted to make the final score 4 – 3.

University of Exeter Captain, Olly Deasy, was jubilant after the game but also praiseworthy of Durham’s plucky efforts as he said to Hockey TV’s Vikki Lawrence:

“It feels absolutely fantastic (to win) and hats off to Durham; they played really well and we had to draw on all our resources to get that victory.”

Earlier on in the day, University of Exeter 2s faced Newcastle University 1s in the BUCS PwC Trophy Final where, contrasting to the BUCS PwC Championship result, the northern-based side, Newcastle, overcame their southern competitors, Exeter, in a 4 – 2 victory.

Newcastle firmly controlled the game’s proceedings over the opening minutes as they won and converted a penalty corner via Hector Hall’s well-placed drag-flick that shot through Andrew Miller’s outstretched grasps in Exeter’s goal.

Ben Underwood then pounced on Will Heywood’s unfortunate but costly mistake in defence barely minutes later as Heywood slipped on the astro-turf, pushed the ball forward and gave the Durham forward an unchallenged opportunity to score.

The slight look of incredulity on Underwood’s face as he reeled way from slotting the ball beneath Andrew Miller into the goal’s bottom left corner typified how Newcastle, the fixture’s underdogs, suddenly found themselves in a comfortable and convincing position.

Matt Grannell managed to halve Exeter’s deficit through a swiftly taken strike from the top of Durham’s ‘D’ mid-way through the first-half, but any aspirations for an Exeter resurgence were then resolutely crushed by Newcastle: Ben Underwood scored his second of the game, finishing a well-worked move that saw a Durham defender’s aerial bypass the entirety of Exeter’s midfield, before Kieran Borrett flicked the ball into the top left corner of Exeter’s goal with five minutes remaining before half-time to make the score 4 – 1.

Throughout the second half, Exeter maintained possession and Matt Grannell scored his second goal of the game via a superb first-time hit from a tight angle on the right-hand side of the pitch. Newcastle’s lead, however, in spite of Exeter’s determined efforts, still remained unsurpassed and they emerged from the game as the eventual victors when the final whistle blew.

EUMHC Club Captain, Andrew Miller, was pensive about Exeter’s performance after the game:

“We played a lot better in the second half, creating several chances that perhaps should have been converted. We were constantly having to compensate for our mistakes made in the opening minutes of the game, however, and that ultimately cost us the game and the trophy.”