By Nick Friend
In freezing conditions on the tarmac court at Maiden Castle, Hatfield took on Derwent in what appeared on paper to be an evenly matched contest, with both sides sitting second in their respective college leagues.
Hatfield fielded a strong side, with the team unchanged from their previous league game, a defeat to St Aidan’s.
York made an early mockery of Hatfield’s strength, taking an early lead with two quick-fire goals. In a game that was open throughout, however, Hatfield were rewarded for their high pressing and subsequent turnovers. The Durham side levelled with two successive strikes of their own through Pippa Frizzelle. With momentum in their favour, Hatfield continued to attack, with three more turnovers leading to goals. Derwent crucially fought back just before the break, netting twice to remain in touch going into the second quarter.
In an attempt to pull away from the visitors, Hatfield brought on University players Hattie Gould Katherine MacLennan. The move paid off with Hatfield turning over possession at the first centre. However, as good as Hatfield were in this period of play – scoring seven times, Derwent were naïve in their approach. The windy conditions meant that short passing was a necessity in order to avoid a constant flow of turnovers. Derwent, though, were direct in their approach, leading to a higher rate of possession change.
With Hatfield 12-7 up going into the second half, the York college made a belated change to their tactics. They changed their shooter and began to play the percentages and find teammates with a more logical passing approach. The change made for a tighter game with a scrappiness creeping into Hatfield’s play that had not previously been there. Buoyed on by a large band of increasingly drunk supporters, Derwent came back into the contest. Three quick goals made it 12-10 and but for Rosie Stewart’s crucial turnover, the advantage may have been even slenderer.
With just one quarter remaining, Derwent went for the jugular, hassling the Durham side and forcing errors. Penalties were awarded to both sides as fatigue crept in along with the effects of the sheer cold. In a moment that summed up Hatfield’s late capitulation, captain Hannah Burnell and Kate McNay tripped each other up, causing a brief delay and a certain loss of concentration. The York college took advantage, producing a stirring late display to claim a dramatic 21-15 victory.
Photograph: Kyle Wong