Editor/Additional Contributions: Hazard
Western Region Contributor: Katie
It was surprising not to see Bath make Division 1 this year, after being a consistent contender in previous years. Having not trained together as a team all year has seriously hindered their team chemistry, as they seemed to experience an uncharacteristic number of miscommunications at Regionals. They are, however, a group of talented individuals, namely handler Georgia Murphy (GB U24), and cutters Beatrix Perks (GB U24)/Issy Clements (Brighton Breezy). Their players are notoriously well drilled and skilled in fundamental frisbee so hopefully with some time to train over the Easter period, we may see Bath back on form fighting for a podium finish at Nationals.
After their outstanding triumph at regionals and 2nd place at Nationals last year it may be surprising to see Exeter Urielle in Division 2 this year. Losses of Cat Pope (Devon, GB U24), Jess Taylor (Devon) and Helen Thompson (Canada U23) seem to have hit this team hard, with a shock loss in the game to go to Indoor Nationals earlier this year. Still, Urielle girls are known for being fierce and hard working, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them bounce back and push for a high finish at this tournament. Watch out for core players Captain Molly Arnett and Vice Captain Emma Pickens (Devon, GB U24), who are likely to be instrumental in Urielle's offence.
|Helen Thompson (left) was one of many players who |
helped Exeter to second place in UWON 2016
Photo by Andrew Moss for the ShowGame
Newcastle Pies have stood in good stead all throughout the Indoor and Outdoor season so far, maintaining strong finishes from their 2015/16 fixtures. With consistently strong handler play, they dominated teams at Regionals, particularly with their 7-4 win against Division 1-team Loughborough on the Sunday morning! Pies have seen captain/GB U24 player Dianne Marquez Lopez suffer a recent injury at Mixed Tour 1, however their drive and determination will carry them through the weekend to maintain a top spot in Div 2 I’m sure. Watch out for their pool game match up against Exeter, which should be one of Saturday's more entertaining game.
The Rest of the Pack
Sheffield are looking forward to putting some well-drilled work into practice this weekend. With height on their side, captain Zarah Dixon expresses her excitement for UWON. In comparison to last year’s UWOR, Sheffield have seen a few key players leave but I’m pleased to say that it gives the team scope for really pushing their players, particularly with Bath in their pool. Go and steal a top spot in Division 2!
The girls up at Huddersfield couldn’t sound more excited to be attending their first UWON as a team. With a relatively small squad attending the ladies are keen to push themselves and develop as a club for the upcoming years. Looking back at UWOR Huddersfield turned heads with fierce game against Sheffield and York, winning 7-1 and 8-4 respectively. Gaining powerhouse and NZ senior player Elly White has really added to their outdoor game, and I’m looking forward to see their finishing position this weekend – make your mark girls!
University of East Anglia Aye-Aye will be a bit of an unknown coming into this weekend. It was very sad not to see them enter Regionals, particularly after doing so well indoors this year. They qualified by beating a strong Oxford team, the same Oxford team who then went on to dominate Outdoor Regionals. Now, not wanting to miss out on the fun, the took up UKU's open offer for Nationals spots, and here they are. It looks as though captain Eve Holland's team may just be this year's dark horse.
Southampton Skunks lost 13 women at the start of this year, including such big players as Claire Baker (SYC, Reading, GB U24) and Celine Lim (Punt). As such, Skunks have done well to scrape qualification this year, beating Swansea in sudden death to claim the final qualification spot at Regionals. Though Skunks won't be pushing for a top finish this year, Captain Livvy Maxwell (Guildford) is excited to have another opportunity to develop talented freshers Beth Squires and Ann Lai. With the help of main handler Katie Allen (Reading, GB U24), Skunks are hoping to bring a good fight to Nationals, but are mainly focused on pushing higher up the ranking at next year's event.
York can be feeling confident this weekend, coming of the back of crushing their Roses Varsity opponents Lancaster last weekend (albeit indoors). While they might be seen more as underdogs this weekend, they certainly boast some fearsome players. Hannah Willet has been training with JR this season, Martine Ballinger has been training with the GB U24 development squad, and Ruth Haley has been constantly developing with teams like Curve. As such, this team is likely to have much more solid disc skills than their opponents would predict, and be looking to push any team they play.
After initially failing to qualify, Swansea are pleased to be given the opportunity to represent at Nationals. Expect to see handler Louise Sorensen-Bentham (Reading) running the Swansea horizontal offence, with some sweet grabs from Captain Immie Wong (Cardiff Storm) and great cutting from speedy Rosie Thompson. Swansea also have a great crop of talented freshers this year, who will benefit immensely from this Nationals experience, making Swansea a team to watch for years to come.
Left holding the baton for Scotland is Edinburgh 2. In nearly every other division, you may expect to see Scottish teams getting podium places. However, with Heriot-Watt dropping out and Strathclyde getting the nod to Division 1, it is difficult to see these girls doing the same. However, don't count them out yet, as co-captains Kristi Witemyre and Tris Sailer managed to see their side get points on every team at Regionals, and only narrowly lost 4-6 to Heriot. Expect a lot of heart, cheering, and sideline from the other Edinburgh Women's team.