If the competition at the University of Hertfordshire’s de Havilland campus wasn’t enough, The League’s Head of Women’s Football Dr Elesa Zehndorfer announced the creation of a Women’s Student Great Britain team to go along with the men’s team that was revealed a couple of months ago.
The host team were always the class act of the tournament as they comfortably beat off the challenge of both the Southampton Stags (44-8) and the Portsmouth Destroyers (34-0). The Stags came second after a 66-0 win over a Destroyers team that was ravaged by injury.
The principal organiser of the tournament was Hertfordshire Hurricanes head coach Jim Messenger. He was delighted with how the day went: “The way today has gone is absolutely astounding. I thought it would go well, but it went by far and away better than I thought it would. It was a really fun day and I am confident that this has laid the structure for the future of women’s football. Hopefully when we do this again next year there could be as many as 12 teams competing.”
The order of the fixtures meant that the final game of the day between the Hertfordshire Tornadoes and the Southampton Stags was set up as the championship decider. After both teams beat the Portsmouth Destroyers in style it looked set up to be a close encounter. However, while never all-out dominating the Stags, the Tornadoes hit big and important plays early on to build up a lead from which they couldn’t be caught.
Hertfordshire running back Amanda Casey was the MVP of the game for an outstanding performance. She set the tone on the very first play from scrimmage by taking a counter play for a touchdown. She then forced and recovered a fumble on the Stags first possession and then caught the touchdown reception following on from it. Overall she accounted for 3 rushing touchdowns and two receiving, as well as making other plays as a quarterback and on defence.
When describing her overall performance on the day of 106 rushing yards on 15 attempts and 3 receptions for 38 yards, she thanked her teammates and coaches for their role in her success. She said: “All I can put my performance down to really is the outstanding technical coaching I’ve received and also some great blocking from the other girls.”
All coaches agreed that the day had been “excellent” and that there was definitely scope for a second competition next year.
The Portsmouth Destroyers suffered a torrid time with injuries; including centre Vicki Hellard being taken to hospital (she was kept overnight in hospital but it appears she will be fine in due course). In spite of this, Destroyers head coach Russ Hewitt was pleased with how the day went. He said: “It was an excellent day and it was an excellent opportunity to play in games which featured some very high quality football.”
On the theme of injuries, he added: “Obviously the injuries didn’t go for us today and if there’s one thing we have learned from the experience of this tournament it’s that the team that won had a squad of 10, whereas we had fewer. The girls are really keen to address this and focus on this at next year’s fresher’s week. Hopefully next year we will have a bigger squad and that will help us to improve as a team.”
The Southampton Stags also came into the day with a small squad of players. This didn’t stop them from putting in a good display and head coach Jonny Brooks was keen to point out that he can see his team coming back and winning next year: “Today was just awesome really. It was great to see so many girls getting involved and playing the game. I’m very proud of the way my team played and without a doubt next year we will come here and win that trophy, that’s a promise!”
The victory for the Tornadoes means that Hertfordshire University now holds both National Student titles with the Hurricanes reigning supreme in the men’s game.
Passing: Audrey Mann (Tornadoes); 17/42, 153 Yards, 8 TDs
Rushing: Amanda Casey (Tornadoes); 15 rushes for 106 yards, 4 TDs
Receiving: Rebecca Small (Tornadoes); 7 catches for 69 yards, 3 TDs
Tackles: Amanda Casey (Tornadoes); 13 solo, 7 assisted
Interceptions: Alice Sadler (Stags); 2 INTs, 1 returned for a TD
Words: A Houghton
Photos: GLN Photography