With the first round of games in the Investec Women’s Premier League looming large on the horizon in just nine days’ time, the teams are honing their skills and going through the last of their preparations before the big day arrives on Saturday 13 September.
Representatives from the Investec Women’s Premier Division teams gathered at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre earlier this week to talk about their chances of making the Investec Women’s Finals Weekend and wrestling the coveted trophy away from holders Surbiton.
The Finals Weekend will be held at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from 18-19 April 2015.
Video Referral: Investec women’s premier teams set for new season
Sarah Haycroft [England & GB], Surbiton captain on retaining the trophy:
We’re taking it as it comes and trying to win every game. Of course we have more pressure as defending champions but we have a good squad who can cope with that. It’s our first season in Europe so were looking forward to all competitions. We’d love to defend the title and the cup and have as good a season as last.
Grace Balsdon [GB], Canterbury captain on her team’s recipe for success:
As was our mantra last year we’ll take it one game at a time. We have to focus on performing and hopefully the results will come. Building on Jen Wilson’s success as a coach last year, we’d obviously like to achieve the same and more this season. It’s all about one game at a time and we’ll see where we end up.
Susie Gilbert [England & GB], Reading on rivals Surbiton:
Sarah Page is an exciting player going forward who can make a difference in any game and Surbiton as a whole were very tough last season. We lost in the play-offs to them on Investec Finals Weekend so they’re the big rivals and the team we hope to beat this time around.
Joie Leigh [England & GB] on Clifton’s strength across the field:
One of our strengths last year was we were hard to beat. We perhaps drew too many games, though. We’d like to win more of the games and get that momentum to move to the top of the table. Els Mansell scored plenty of goals and we have a new forward in Claire Thomas who’ll do well. We also have a great defence with players like Harriet Pearce, overall we’re pretty strong all over and a good team unit.
Lauren Turner [England], Leicester on coming of age:
It’s good to be back where it all began with my first club. I’m looking forward to playing English hockey again but I’ll have to remember I’m not 17 anymore! I need to take more responsibility but also use the technical side of the game I picked up in Holland along with my experience to be more of a leader in the team.
Suzy Petty [England & GB] on Beeston’s young squad:
We’re quite a young team building on our juniors and building on last season’s efforts. We have an amazing goalkeeper in Lucy Dawkins who came back from a car accident last year and of course Sophie Robinson is a great goal scorer. We’re really looking to our juniors to step up.
Sarah Haycroft, Surbiton Captain
Lily Owsley [England & GB] on University of Birmingham and competing:
We had some close games last year. We were unlucky a lot and hopefully we’ll turn those games into 1-0 and 2-0 wins instead of losses. We competed and showed that we can live with the top teams but we need to show it every week. It’s tough to predict how we’ll do. We could finish almost anywhere. We need to get a few games in and see where we are but I think we can finish top six.
Steph Elliott [England & GB] on Holcombe’s debut in the Investec Premier League:
We’ve lost a few good players but gained some good ones too. We want to compete having just come up but I have a good feeling about it. We’re aiming for mid table. We don’t know what to expect but we’d like to give the league a bit of a shake up.
Zoe Shipperley [England & GB] on the challenges ahead for Buckingham:
We’re massively excited about the season. The girls are fully into training ready and raring to go. Four times missing out through playoffs was hard. We knew we could compete against these teams but now we have the chance to prove ourselves against the best.
First weekend of Investec Women’s Hockey League fixtures
|Saturday 13 September|
|Women’s Premier Division|
|University of Birmingham||v||Leicester||14:30|
|Women’s Conference West|
|Bristol Firebrands||v||Olton & West Warwicks||12:00|
|Oxford Hawks||v||Gloucester City||12:00|
|Women’s Conference North|
|Brooklands Poynton||v||Ben Rhydding||11:45|
|University of Durham||v||Whitley Bay and Tynemouth||12:00|
|Liverpool Sefton||v||Loughborough Students||12:30|
|Women’s Conference East|
Click here to see the full fixture list for the Investec Women’s Hockey League for the 2014/15 season.
Click here to find out more about the Investec Women’s Hockey League.
Photo Credit: Chris Lee / England Hockey