On Saturday 19 November, Penguin Rockhoppers travelled to Manchester for two Championship 3 matches. The first game against Southampton started well, with player-coach Nora Benko kicking things off with two goals to take the lead for Penguin. However, Southampton weren’t going to let go easily and fought back to 2-1 at the end of the first quarter. They took the lead in the second quarter and from then on their strength in both attack and defence pushed us hard. While we kept taking shots, we couldn’t keep up in terms of goals, and going into the last quarter we trailed 6-10. A final team talk kept us focussed and the classic surfer’s lob did its job, first in an attack and then in a man up from the left wing, less than a minute later. Despite our efforts the final score was 10-12 to Southampton asnd, while it was disappointing to not seal the victory from the early lead, coach Nora praised our persistence and determination.
We anticipated that our second game against ICENI would be an altogether different affair, having seen their inexperienced team already suffer heavy defeats against Polytechnic and Sunderland. Nora chose to sit out and rest her injury, which meant the remaining girls had a lot of pool time ahead of them. It also gave less experienced players Zoe Grainge and Jai Mai Lee, the chance to prove themselves.
The match started just as we’d hoped with five goals in the first quarter from four different players including Laura Hues, Vicky Miller and Emma Stapleton. The second quarter saw ICENI scrape a goal back, although two more from Laura and Julia Hornig kept us comfortably in the lead. With the half time score at 7-1, we knew we needed to maintain our standard of play despite the weaker opposition. Throughout the remaining two quarters, the Rockhoppers showed lots of creative play in a variety of man up situations, breaks and set ups, with further goals from Vicky, Laura, Julia and Emma. The whistle blew with the score at 15-2, a good win for us against a team who will undoubtedly grow in strength in the future.