Investec Women's Hockey League: Meet the contenders

Jo Hunter takes on Maddie Hinch

The regular season has come to an end and now, with the four best teams in the land confirmed it is time for the playoffs and time to crown the Investec Women's Hockey League Champions. with Surbiton going for their third consecutive title can any of Canterbury, University of Birmingham or Holcombe stop them?

Surbiton

League record: P: 18 W: 14 D: 4 L: 0 F: 53 A: 11 GD: 42 PTS: 46

Top Scorers:
Jenna Woolven (8)
Jo Hunter (8)
Giselle Ansley (5)

The reigning champions are back to the finals to defend their title, hoping for a third consecutive crown. As was the case last season, they have once again gone through the regular season unbeaten. Surbiton are a formidable team with quality in every area of the pitch. They have the pace and guile of the likes of Rebecca Middleton, Jo Hunter, Sarah Haycroft and Jenna Woolven in attack, the class of Georgie Twigg in midfield and of course the rock-solid Hollie Webb and Giselle Ansley at the back. Add to that two of the best goalkeepers in the league in Abi Walker and Amy Gibson and it is clear the Sugden Road side will take some stopping.

Canterbury
League Record: P: 18 W: 12 D: 4 L: 2 F: 45 A: 18 GD: 27 PTS: 40


Top Scorers:
Grace Balsdon (8)
Sarah Kerly (7)
Dirkie Chamberlain (6)

Once again Canterbury’s solid defence has laid the foundations for their assault on the title. Their total of seven clean sheets is only bettered by the nine Surbiton have registered. Captain Grace Balsdon is maturing into a top class player and as well as being a defensive rock, Balsdon has chipped in with eight goals from penalty corners. Canterbury’s strong backline allows their powerful, pacy attackers licence to cause havoc at the other end.

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University of Birmingham

League Record: P: 18 W: 11 D: 3 L: 4 F: 37 A: 20 GD: 17 PTS: 36

Top Scorers:
Erica Sanders (11)
Hannah Martin (7)
Holly Hunt (4)

Birmingham led the table until the first week of February when they were knocked off top spot by Surbiton. They have endured a tough second half of the season, winning just twice since Christmas, but with much of the heavy lifting done before the festive break, they were able to qualify with something to spare. Erica Sanders has proved to be a fine addition in attack alongside the outrageously talented Hannah Martin and another rising star in Holly Hunt. With Tina Evans and Amelia Andrew resolute at the back Phil Gooderham’s side will be keen to show what they can do.

Holcombe

League record: P: 18 W: 9 D: 3 L: 6 F: 28 A: 31 GD: -3 PTS: 30

Top Scorers:
Emily Maguire (6)
Sarah Jones (5)
Steph Elliott (4)

It took the Kent side a while to get going this season. With a number of new faces taking time to settle it wasn’t until game five that they registered their first win. Their form second half of the season has been outstanding, winning five out of the last six to see off a strong challenge from East Grinstead to secure the final playoff spot. Sarah Jones has developed a handy knack of scoring important goals, whilst Emily Maguire has hit a purple patch, netting penalty corners for fun. With the likes of Maddie Hinch, Sarah Robertson, Sam Quek, Lucy Wood, Steph Elliott, Nicola White, Shona McCallin and Maguire in the ranks, all from the central programme, theirs is a side that if it clicks can beat anyone.

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