Preview: Investec Women's Hockey League title and play-offs!

Surbiton women
Surbiton will be looking to secure their fifth consecutive Investec Women's Premier League title on Sunday at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

Buckingham stand in their way at the semi-final stage with Holcombe and East Grinstead competing for the other final spot.

With a whole host of internationals in action after returning from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, it's not to be missed! Tickets are still available here!


Surbiton v Buckingham
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre (3:00pm)

BS

Surbiton
Having once again finished at the top of the table, Surbiton have the chance of winning a fifth consecutive Investec Women’s Hockey League title. It hasn’t been completely plain sailing this season for Brett Garrard’s side but with the firepower they have in their team expect them to come out all guns blazing as they search for yet another piece of silverware. Their squad boasts six Commonwealth Games medallists in Giselle Ansley, Emily Defroand, Sarah Haycroft, Jo Hunter, Hannah Martin and Hollie Pearne-Webb – while Robyn Collins also featured for Scotland on the Gold Coast – alongside a host of exciting young talent including Isabelle Petter and Ella Burnley.

Buckingham
It has been a remarkable season for Buckingham, who were only promoted back into the top tier this season. Having starred at Lee Valley in last year’s play-offs, defeating Wimbledon and Brooklands Poynton to secure their promotion, they will hope to set the home of hockey on fire again this time round. Abbie Brant – the league’s joint-highest goalscorer alongside Erica Sanders and Giselle Ansley with 11 – will be a huge threat from both open play and set pieces while Emily Rowlands and Hannah Cozens will be searching for their second title of the season having already won the BUCS Championship with Loughborough. Their team also features recent Commonwealth Games competitors in Welsh trio Eloise Laity, Phoebe Richards and Ella Jackson.

Holcombe v East Grinstead
Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre (5.15pm)

HE

Holcombe
Last year’s finalists Holcombe have a score to settle this time round as they seek to go one better than that second-place finish. This is a team that knows how to handle pressure – having beaten the University of Birmingham in their final game of the season to secure a spot at League Finals – and will be looking to take that nous into this weekend. Their forward line will be lead by Gold Coast bronze medallist Ellie Watton and she is joined in an experienced team by Welsh stars Sarah Jones, Jo Westwood, Rose Thomas, Beth Bingham and captain Leah Wilkinson, who all represented their country at the recent Commownealth Games, as did South Africa’s Dirkie Chamberlain.

East Grinstead
Another team who will be appearing at a second consecutive League Finals weekend, East Grinstead can thank a strong mid-season run for the fact they have qualified for this showpiece event. Six wins in eight games either side of the Christmas break propelled the Sussex-based side into the top four and there they stayed until the end of the season thanks to results going their way on the final weekend. Joint-highest goalscorer Laura Unsworth will be looking to add to her tally, having scored for England at the Commonwealth Games, while international team-mates Ellie Rayer and Amy Tennant will be hoping to take their team to a first ever league title.


Play-offs

The battle for the final place in next season’s Investec Women’s Premier Division looks set to be another intense one as the three Conference winners – Stourport, Hampstead & Westminster and Beeston – take on this year’s ninth-placed team Slough.

Despite having not lost any of their last four games, two draws on the final weekend of the season saw Slough slip below Clifton Robinsons on goal difference. However that run of form will certainly boost the squad’s hopes of retaining their top flight status for a third consecutive season.

Beeston will also enter the event in prime shape having dominated the Conference North, winning 17 out of 18 games and scoring a remarkable 74 goals. They boast each of their league’s three top scorers in Sophie Robinson (16), Lauren Burrell (13) and Rosy Stephens (12) so expect fireworks when they play.

However Hampstead & Westminster were the only undefeated team across the Investec Women’s Hockey Leagues. Like Beeston they strolled to the Conference East title with 17 wins and one draw, also scoring an incredible 74 goals and conceding just 10. Expect top scorer Joyce Esser, current Scotland and GB international Sarah Robertson and London 2012 medallist Emily Maguire to lead their charge.

Stourport will also offer a stern test having come through a tough Conference West, pipping Reading to the title by just a point in a hotly contested league. Lorna Symonds and Sarah Parkinson-Mills have enjoyed fine seasons in front of goal – scoring 13 and 12 times respectively – and will be hoping to replicate that form as they bid to reach the top tier for the first time in their history.