How they're shaping up: Women's Premier Division

How they're shaping up: Women's Premier Division
The 2020-21 England Hockey League Women’s Premier Division season starts on Saturday, with many clubs fielding new-look squads after a busy summer of signings.

Under the new format all teams play each other once before the winter break and then the top six will play off for the championship and the bottom five to avoid the drop.

The revised format is to dovetail into a busy international calendar culminating in the rescheduled Olympic Games in the summer of 2021. 

With pre-season routines disrupted because of Covid restrictions, week one will take on a new level of interest as teams face off with different line-ups and mixed pre-season programmes.

Fourth last season, Buckingham head to Surbiton on Saturday and will have in their squad former Surbiton player Jo Hunter who has signed for the Stowe School outfit.

But last season’s champions Surbiton have added several players to their squad, with a trio of Holcombe players in former international star Steph Elliott, Alice Wills and Emma Bandurak signing up.

A raft of former Surbiton colts players have also returned to Sugden Road in Meg Dowthwaite, Lottie Ross and Louise Bray, while American international youngster Corinne Zanolli has finished quarantine and is ready to compete for a place.
Holcombe 2019 LF

Holcombe have lost a number of players to rivals Surbiton and Hampstead, but have brought in new faces such as Argentinian defender Luciana Galimberti and attacking compatriot Agueda Moroni Melgarejo.

Italian international defender Ivanna Pessina, who also won caps for Argentina before her move to Italy, has signed up too, while other first XI newcomers include young Holcombe-bred goalkeeper Katie Cardwell.

Great Britain and Scotland international forward Charlotte Watson has moved from Holcombe to their opponents this weekend Loughborough Students. Other new faces at Loughborough include Kyra Angerer, the German age group international who is completing a masters’ degree at the university.

Hampstead and Westminster go to Beeston with several new players in the squad including three former Holcombe players.

Olympic star Nic White is returning to hockey after two years out with a head injury, Izzy Davison is also moving from Holcombe to Hampstead & Westminster after several years at Beeston before that, and England U21 player Pip Lewis moves from Holcombe after three seasons.

England and GB player Esme Burge joins Hampstead from the University of Nottingham, while Livy Paige also has England caps and comes to Hampstead from the University of Birmingham.

Their hosts on Saturday are Beeston, who have added Welsh international midfielder Julie Whiting from Bowdon, while American developmental international players Jillian Wolgemuth and Kelsey Briddell have also joined their first XI.

Clifton Robinsons have signed former Surbiton and GB defender Holly Munro, while former GB U23 and England age group player Megan Crowson has also joined Clifton Robinsons. Sarah-Jayne Thorburn and Livvy Hoskins have moved across the border from Swansea.

Starting with a home game, Clifton Robinsons entertain East Grinstead who have added former Holcombe goalkeeper Laura Myers.

EG 2019 LF

Division One South champions Wimbledon are hosting Division One North champions Swansea in their first game, and both have made several new signings over the summer.

Among Wimbledon’s new faces are three former Beeston players. Midfielder Mairi Drummond and goalkeeper Nicky Cochrane are both Scottish internationals, while Annie Dalton also moves from Beeston to Wimbledon.

And Swansea have signed four young players from America, thanks largely to coach Gareth Terrett having coached at the University of the Pacific in California, USA for a year.

West Chester University duo Kat Roncoroni and Katie Thompson have signed, while USA development international Madalyn Conklin from Cornell University and Allie Christopher from Bucknell University also join, with all four studying at Swansea University for the year.

Welsh international Beth Wood will play for Swansea, the former Cardiff & Met defender having returned from a season in Australia, while former Trojans player Rebecca Treharne will bring experience to the squad.

The University of Birmingham have a bye in week one, but their new faces include Canterbury’s Ailsa Naylor, Beeston’s Sarah Spooner and Maisy Ellis from Basingstoke.

You can follow the action including live scores at https://englandhockey.altiusrt.com/ or by clicking HERE.

Arrangements for spectators at clubs will vary depending on their individual circumstances. Anyone wishing to attend a game is advised to check with the home team before travelling.

FIXTURES

Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, 19 September):

Premier Division
Clifton Robinsons v East Grinstead 13:30
Beeston v Hampstead & Westminster 14:00
Surbiton v Buckingham 15:00
Wimbledon v Swansea 15:30
Holcombe v Loughborough Students 16:00